By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University baseball players Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CORegis Jesuit HS) and Connor Bailey (Jr., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS), along with Head Coach Aaron Swick, have been selected to the 2018 D3baseball.com All-West Region Team. Brett was chosen for the First Team, Bailey was picked for the Third Team and Swick was named West Region Coach of the Year.
A total of 42 players were named to the D3baseball.com All-West Region Team. Fourteen athletes were selected to the First Team, with 14 players on the Second Team and 14 more on the Third Team.
Outfielder Riley Schaefer from Texas Lutheran University was chosen as the West Region Player of the Year. Nathan Malinovsky of Texas Lutheran was named West Region Pitcher of the Year. Second baseman Kyle Strash from University of Puget Sound was chosen as the West Regon Newcomer of the Year.
Willamette went 24-16 in regular season games, 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.
At the NCAA Spokane Regional, the Bearcats reached the championship game before falling to Texas Lutheran, 6-5 in 10 innings. Willamette was 3-2 in the tournament and finished the season with a 31-19 overall record.
First Team All-West Region
Jack Brett (Sr., C) was selected First Team All-Northwest Conference. He led Willamette this season with a .359 batting average and 14 doubles. He ranked second on the team with 10 home runs and a .649 slugging percentage. He ended the year with 54 hits, 27 runs scored and 33 RBIs. On defense, he recorded a .985 fielding percentage. He played in 42 games with 39 starts.
He earned at least one hit in 27 of the last 30 games in the season, including one stretch with a 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 registered 16 putouts against Pacific University on Feb. 24.
Brett hit .364 (8 of 22) during the NCAA Spokane Regional. He blasted three doubles and smacked two home runs. He scored six runs and earned four RBIs during Willamette's five games in the tournament.
"Position players are usually selected for awards based on their offensive production," Swick said. "Jack had a tremendous year at the plate, but his leadership on and off the field was a significant reason why we had so much success."
During his four seasons with the Bearcats, Brett competed in 101 games with 77 starts. He attained a .298 career batting average, while earning 91 hits, 17 doubles and 17 home runs. He scored 51 runs and recorded 55 RBIs. He accumulated 337 putouts in his career on his way to a .985 career fielding percentage.
Third Team All-West Region
Connor Bailey (Jr., LF) was named First Team All-NWC this spring and received Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition in 2017. This year, he ranks second in NCAA Division III with 15 home runs and is sixth with 120 total bases (4 for a homer, 3 for a triple, etc.). He is 13th in home runs per game (0.30 avg.), 24th with six sacrifice flies, and 26th with 55 RBIs. He ranks 44th in the nation with a .683 slugging percentage.
Bailey batted .339 this season and tied the school record with 64 hits, matching Mitch Gregg from 1999. Bailey's 15 homers are tied for second all-time at Willamette and his 55 RBIs are third all-time. He established a Bearcat record with 189 at bats. He tied for the lead on this year's team with 28 walks. He registered a hit in 23 of 25 games at one point, including 16 in a row, and also had a stretch of the season with an RBI in 20 of 22 games, including 15 in a row. In the outfield, he provided the Bearcats with 101 putouts, with 14 during the NCAA Spokane Regional.
He was the only Bearcat to start all 50 games this season. During 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 a 1.769 slugging percentage.
"Connor showed up on campus a good player, but has improved each year," Swick noted. "His work ethic and desire to be great are the reasons for his continued success."
In three years at WU, Bailey has achieved a .335 career batting average to go along with 159 hits, 105 runs scored and 105 RBIs. He is fifth all-time at Willamette with 22 home runs. He has belted 30 doubles and seven triples. He has played in 128 games -- all of them in the starting lineup. He has earned 241 putouts on defense with a .980 fielding percentage.
West Region Coach of the Year
Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick was chosen as the West Region Coach of the Year after leading the Bearcats to a 31-19 overall record and to the championship game of the NCAA Division III Spokane Regional. WU placed third in the NWC in the regular season at 15-9 and won the NWC Tournament Championship. The Bearcats played 50 games for the first time in school history and tied the school record for wins, matching the 1998 team. Willamette has achieved a combined record of 59-33 (.641) during the past two seasons.
Swick, who has coached the Bearcats for 10 seasons, owns an overall record of 215-186-1 (.536) at Willamette. In 2017, he led Willamette to a 28-14 overall record, and an 18-6 mark in the NWC (2nd place). The Bearcats reached the championship game of the NWC Tournament. He has led Willamette to at least a .500 overall record eight times, including seven winning seasons.
This year, the Bearcats limited opponents to a .268 batting average. The WU pitching staff struck out 260 batters and finished the season with a 4.09 team earned run average. Willamette hit .286 on offense, including .306 over the final 30 games of the season, as the Bearcats went 22-8. The Bearcats tied the school record with a .968 overall fielding percentage and turned 43 double plays.