By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- It's great when the strength of a baseball team is right up the middle of the defense, and that was the case for Willamette University this season. Connor Bailey (Sr., San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) in center field, Justin Scanlon (Jr., San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) at second base, Matt Steindorf (Sr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) pitching and Cole Pursell (Sr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) behind the plate led the way for the Bearcats. All four players have been named to the 2019 D3baseball.com All-West Region Team.
Bailey was selected to the First Team, Scanlon was chosen for the Second Team, and Stiendorf and Pursell were named to the Third Team.
"All of these players had great seasons and I am happy they were recognized accordingly. We had the most selections of any team in our region," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "This is a testament to the talent of the players in our program and for the hard work done by our coaching staff."
A total of 41 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 13 players on the Third Team.
Casey Combs, a catcher from East Texas Baptist University, was voted West Region Player of the Year. TylerP eck from Chapman University (Calif.) was chosen West Region Pitcher of the Year. Dane Goodman, an outfielder at Whittier College (Calif.) was selected as the West Region Newcomer of the Year. Head Coach Scott Laverty from Chapman was named West Region Coach of the Year.
Willamette ended the season with a 19-16 overall record, including 14-10 in the Northwest Conference. It was the Bearcats' sixth consecutive winning season. The Bearcats have been .500 or better in 10 of the last 12 years. This season, Willamette achieved a 4.31 team earned run average on the mound and tied a school record with a .968 team fielding percentage. The Bearcats pounded out 64 doubles, five triples and 28 home runs.
First Team All-West Region
Connor Bailey (Sr., CF) was named NWC Baseball Player of the Year this spring and was chosen First Team All-NWC for the second consecutive season. He was Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2017. It is Bailey's second time on the D3baseball.com All-West Region Team and his first time on the First Team. Last year, he was named Third Team All-West Region. Also in 2018, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) chose him First Team All-West Region.
Bailey led this year's team a .386 batting average and a .661 slugging percentage, and was second with a .470 on-base percentage. He was 49 of 127 at the plate and ranked first for the Bearcats with 38 runs scored. He also ranked first with seven home runs, tied for first with 13 doubles and two triples, and was second with 33 RBIs. He walked a team-high 24 times, and was 9 for 12 on stolen bases. In the outfield, he provided Willamette with 80 putouts and two assists for a 1.000 fielding percentage.
In 2018, Bailey ranked second in NCAA Division III in 2018 with 15 homers and was eighth with 129 total bases. He was 13th in homers per game (0.30 avg.), 25th with six sacrifice flies, and 26th with 55 RBIs. His .684 slugging percentage ranked 45th. He hit .339 at the plate and earned a school record-tying 64 hits. He set a school record with 189 at bats.
During his four years at Willamette, he set school records with 213 career hits and 615 career at bats. He tied for another school record with nine career triples. Bailey's career batting average of .346 ranks sixth all-time for the Bearcats. He is second all-time with 143 runs scored and is third with 29 home runs, 43 doubles and 101 walks. He contributed 321 putouts in the outfield. He played and started 162 games.
Second Team All-West Region
Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B) received All-West Region honors this spring in his first season with the Bearcats after transferring from West Valley College in California. He was chosen First Team All-NWC this season.
He ranked second for the Bearcats with a .357 batting average, 46 hits and 30 runs scored, while leading the way with 35 RBIs. He tied Bailey for the team lead with 13 doubles and two triples, and was third with five home runs. He finished the year with a .605 slugging percentage and a .436 on-base percentage. On defense, he made 48 putouts and supplied 61 assists with just one error for a .991 fielding percentage. He played in 32 games with 31 starts.
Scanlon hit .417 with 28 runs and 27 RBIs in his last 25 games played. He was named NWC Baseball Position Player Student-Athlete of the Week and was chosen for the D3baseball.com Team of the Week after batting .563 (9 for 16) in Willamette's three-game sweep of George Fox on April 13-14. Scanlon blasted a home run in all three games of that series and ended the weekend with five runs scored, 10 RBIs, a double and a triple. He had a 1.313 slugging percentage during the week.
Third Team All-West Region
Matt Steindorf (Sr., RHP) was chosen for the D3baseball.com All-West Region Team for the first time. He was named Second Team All-West Region by the ABCA last season. Earlier this spring, he was selected First Team All-NWC for the third consecutive season.
Through his four seasons at Willamette, Steindorf earned a 33-9 pitching record to set the school record for career wins. He pitched in 52 games and set school records with 49 starts and 356 2/3 innings on the mound. He finished his career ranked fifth all-time at WU with a 3.28 earned run average and was third with 232 strikeouts.
This year, he was 8-2 with a 2.61 earned run average and 68 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 83 1/3 innings pitched. He tossed at least five innings in every start, went seven or more innings nine times, and limited opponents to a .247 batting average. He struck out 10 batters against Whittier College and struck out five or more batters nine times.
In 2018, he set Willamette's record for wins in a season with an 11-3 mark. He led the NWC with 109 2/3 innings pitched and tied for second with 67 strikeouts. He achieved a 2.87 earned run average for third in the NWC. Steindorf ended the year tied for fourth in NCAA Division III in wins and was tied for fifth with 15 pitching starts. He threw at least five innings in every start and went seven or more innings 10 times. He struck out a career-high 14 batters against Pacific University on Feb. 24, 2018.
Cole Pursell (Sr., C) was named to the D3baseball.com All-West Region Team for the first time this spring. He also received First Team All-NWC honor this year.
Pursell started 31 games this season for the Bearcats, including 23 starts behind the plate. He batted .305 with a .542 slugging percentage. He ranked second on the team with six home runs and placed third with 10 doubles and 32 RBIs. He was fourth for the Bearcats with 22 runs scored. He this spring. He smacked two home runs in Willamette's 10-5 win over University of Puget Sound on Feb. 24.
On defense, he was second on Willamette's roster with 143 putouts this year. His solid efforts at catcher also included 13 assists and no errors, as he registered a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Pursell hit .262 for his career with 36 runs, 47 RBIs, 16 doubles and eight home runs. He walked 25 times, including 17 free passes this season. An injury limited his playing time as a junior to just seven games, but he still finished his four years with 347 putouts, 40 assists and a .985 career fielding percentage. He achieved a career high with 12 putouts against Whittier on Feb. 3, 2018 and against Linfield College on Feb. 17, 2019. He played in 76 games with 72 starts.