By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University baseball players Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS), Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) and Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) have been named First Team All-Northwest Conference for the 2018 season in voting by the NWC head coaches. Four Bearcats received Honorable Mention recognition.
A total of 46 players were selected for the 2018 All-Northwest Conference Baseball Team. Fifteen athletes were named to the First Team, with 15 players on the Second Team and 16 athletes chosen for Honorable Mention.
Outfielder Jacob Bockelie of Pacific Lutheran University was selected as the NWC Player of the Year. Hugh Smith of Whitworth University was named NWC Pitcher of the Year. Second baseman Kyle Strash from University of Puget Sound was voted as the NWC Freshman of the Year. Head Coach Nolan Soete of Pacific Lutheran was chosen NWC Coach of the Year.
Willamette finished the regular season with a 23-14 record, including 15-9 in the NWC (3rd place). The Bearcats qualified for the NWC Baseball Tournament as the #3 seed. Willamette won the NWC Tournament Championship and received the NWC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament by defeating George Fox University, 11-6 and 5-3, on the final day of the event.
The Bearcats also defeated Linfield College and Pacific Lutheran on their way to a 4-1 record in the tournament. Willamette improved to 27-15 on the season, giving the Bearcats a combined record of 55-29 in the past two years.
Honorable Mention All-NWC selections from Willamette were Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS), Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS), Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) and Tyler Janitz (Jr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS).
First Team All-Northwest Conference
Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP) received First Team All-NWC honors for the second year in a row. He led the NWC and tied the Willamette record for wins at 10-3. He ranked first in the NWC with 94 2/3 innings pitched and was second with 63 strikeouts. He achieved a 2.57 earned run average for third place in the NWC and allowed just 14 walks, while holding opponents to a .237 batting average.
Steindorf threw four complete games this year, with three covering nine innings, plus one eight inning game ended due to darkness. He threw a complete-game in the first round of the NWC Tournament for the second consecutive season, earning a 6-5 win over Pacific Lutheran in 2017 and a 6-3 victory over Linfield this spring. After defeating Linfield, Steindorf pitched six innings two days later in the NWC championship game. Against Pacific University on Feb. 24, he struck out a career-high 14 batters and pitched nine innings in a 2-1, 10-inning win.
Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Steindorf's 10 wins were tied for first in NCAA Division III, and he was tied for first in the nation with 13 pitching starts. He threw at least five innings in every start and went seven or more innings eight times. A solid defensive player, he earned six putouts and provided 18 assists.
During his three seasons at Willamette, Steindorf has achieved a 24-7 record and a 3.34 earned run average over 258 1/3 innings. His 24 wins rank fourth all-time for the Bearcats. He has registered 160 career strikeouts for ninth on WU's all-time list. He has contributed 63 assists on defense.
"Matt gave us quality innings all year," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "I can't think of two poor innings by him on the mound. He is a true ace and a fierce competitor."
Connor Bailey (Jr., LF) led the Bearcats with a .373 batting average. At the end of the NWC Tournament, he ranked first in NCAA Division III with 14 home runs and was first with 120 total bases (4 for a homer, 3 for a triple, etc.). He was eighth in home runs per game (0.33 avg.) and was fifth with 52 RBIs. His .759 slugging percentage ranked 13th in the nation.
Bailey recorded a team-high 59 hits and 44 runs in 158 at bats this season. He was 16th in NCAA Division III in hits and was 17th in runs. He walked 26 times and was 6 for 7 on stolen bases. He pounded out a total of 29 extra-base hits, while tying for first on the team with 11 doubles and leading the Bearcats with four triples. He was the only Willamette player to compete in and start all 42 games through the NWC Tournament. On defense, he recorded 80 putouts.
In Willamette's three-game NWC series against Lewis & Clark College on April 14-15, he smacked five home runs and a double, while batting .538 (7 of 13) with an impressive 1.769 slugging percentage. Bailey has earned a hit in 21 of the Bearcats' last 23 games and has produced an RBI in 20 of the last 22 games.
Bailey's career statistics include a .347 batting average, 154 hits, 101 runs and 102 RBIs. He is tied for fifth all-time at Willamette with 21 home runs, and has blasted 29 doubles and seven triples. He has played in 120 games, all starts. He has accumulated 220 putouts on defense. He was chosen Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2017.
"His talent and dedication are the reason why he is so successful," Swick said. "There were weekends where he carried us on offense."
Jack Brett (Sr., C) was named First Team All-NWC for the first time. He was second on Willamette's offensive chart with a .341 batting average and a .618 slugging percentage. He supplied the Bearcats with 42 hits, including 10 doubles and eight home runs. He scored 20 times and drove in 27 runs. His eight homers ranked 21st in the nation in NCAA Division III.
While playing in 35 games with 32 starts, Brett earned 145 putouts and 22 assists with just one error for a .994 fielding percentage. He registered at least one hit in 19 of 20 games between March 3 and April 21. He was chosen as the NWC Baseball Position Student-Athlete of the Week on April 10 after hitting .538 with two doubles and two home runs, as Willamette swept a three-game series against University of Puget Sound.
He was the catcher against Pacific when Steindorf struck out 14 batters on Feb. 24. Brett finished the game with a total of 16 putouts.
In four years with the Bearcats, Brett has played in 94 games with 70 starts. He owns a .285 career batting average to go with 79 hits, 13 doubles and 15 homers. He has scored 44 runs and provided 49 RBIs. His skills as a catcher have allowed him to amass 312 putouts, 48 assists and a .989 career fielding percentage.
"Jack's offensive numbers this year were great, but it was his leadership and his catching that really helped our team achieve the success we did," Swick commented.
Honorable Mention All-Northwest Conference
Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B) earned Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition for the first time. He was chosen Second Team All-NWC in 2016. This year, he batted .291 and played in 41 games, all starts at first base. He drove in 44 runs to rank 18th in NCAA Division III, including a team-high six sacrifice flies (7th in Division III). He connected for 10 doubles, one triple and four home runs. He tied for the team lead with 158 at bats through the NWC Tournament. On defense, he led the team with 357 putouts.
During his Willamette career, Del Prado has registered a school record 1,053 putouts. At the plate, he has achieved a .300 career batting average, while playing in 134 games with 119 starts. He has contributed 112 RBIs, 61 runs, 29 doubles and 12 home runs in his career. He ranks sixth all-time at WU in RBIs.
Troy Conway (Sr., 2B) was chosen Honorable Mention All-NWC for the first time. He hit .261 this spring, while producing six doubles, two triples and one home run. He scored 31 times to rank third on the team. He was 6 for 8 on stole bases. He competed in 40 games -- all starts -- and made 100 putouts to go along with 103 assists on defense.
In four seasons at Willamette, Conway has attained a .281 batting average, and has played in 129 games with 123 starts. He has scored 100 runs and earned 74 RBIs, and has accumulated 481 at bats. He has pounded out 20 doubles, four triples and seven homers in his career, and has registered 318 putouts and 324 assists at second base.
Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF) gained Honorable Mention All-NWC status for the first time. This season, he started 38 games and supplied the Bearcats with a .333 batting average. He ranked second on the team through the NWC Tournament with 39 runs scored and was tied for first with 11 doubles. He also smacked four homers and rove in 27 runs. He walked 23 times on offense and was 14 for 18 on stolen base attempts. He achieved 65 putouts and a .985 fielding percentage in center field.
In 117 career games played, he has registered a .302 batting average with 24 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs. He has scored 87 runs and provided 64 RBIs. He is tied for seventh all-time had WU in stolen bases after converting 37 of 44 attempts. He has made 238 career putouts with a .992 fielding percentage.
"Perry loves the game of baseball and loves working at it," Swick noted. "It was great to have him recognized for an outstanding senior season."
Tyler Janitz (Jr., SS) received Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition for the first time. He hit .283 this year and tied for 14th in NCAA Division III with nine sacrifice bunts. He scored 16 runs and earned 14 RBIs. Janitz finished the NWC Tournament with a season total of 102 assists, just one fewer than Conway, who led the team. He played in and started 31 games.
At Willamette, Janitz has played in 104 games, including 102 starts. His career totals include 50 runs scored and 52 walks. He has belted 11 doubles and stolen 17 bases. He has registered 148 putouts and contributed 317 assists at shortstop for the Bearcats.
"Tyler has a great feel for the game," Swick said. "He always puts himself in a situation to help the team."