|Chapman is back on the national stage, but will the Panthers need another miracle finish to take the next step?
Chapman athletics photo
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Meet the teams
|Willamette is the closest team to Spokane and should have a large crowd to cheer their efforts.
Willamette athletics photo
By Ralph Turner
The West Regional returns to Avista Stadium in Spokane, Washington, the site of the 2016 regionals, with six teams starting play on Thursday. The West Regional champion has won two straight national championships and three of the last five. Is the West up for a three-peat?
Chapman head coach Scott Laverty leads the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time as the SCIAC Pool A bid by scoring 19 runs in the last 3 innings of the SCIAC tourney championship where Chapman was the No. 3 seed in the SCIAC. The Panthers’ previous trip ended in losing to Marietta in the 2011 final game as a Pool B bid.
Redlands earned a Pool C bid to return to the West Regional for its first appearance since 2011. Head coach Aaron Holley won the SCIAC regular season title in his sixth season at the helm.
Former major leaguer Tommy Boggs will take Concordia (Texas) into the West Regional for the fourth time in eight years. The Tornados were eliminated in the Finals in 2017 and are the only ASC team to make the Division III World Series, in 2002.
Texas Lutheran earned its first bid to the NCAA playoffs since joining the SCAC. Coach Greg Burnett’s Bulldogs were the No. 3 seed in the SCAC tourney. TLU had four appearances from the ASC, most recently in 2013.
Texas-Dallas swept Concordia-Texas in the ASC tourney finals to earn its first bid to the West Regional since 2007. Shane Shewmake's Comets were the No. 3 seed in the ASC tournament. UTD’s .349 batting average is the best in the regional.
Northwest Conference insiders alerted us to the improvement in the Willamette program in the pre-season preview and it is not a hugh surprise to see them suiting up this week. Coach Aaron Swick led the Bearcats as the No. 3 NWC seed to win the NWC Tourney.
Spokane Regional schedule
All times Pacific
Thursday, May 17
Game 1: No. 1 Chapman (34-11) vs. No. 6. Willamette (28-17), 11:00 a.m.
Game 2: No. 2 Redlands (33-11) vs. No. 5. Texas-Dallas (23-15), 3:00 p.m.
Game 3: No. 3 Concordia-Texas (29-16) vs. No. 4. Texas Lutheran (34-9), 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 18
Saturday, May 19
Sunday, May 20
Even though Redlands stumbled in the last 3 innings of the SCIAC championship game, the Bulldogs have been the strongest team in the Region for the entire season. Redlands will forget the slip-up and is our pick to make a trip to the final round in Appleton.
Most likely to disappoint
Picking the team most likely to disappoint is tough, especially when there are a few surprises in those not here. Picking one? Concordia (Texas) is the only returning team from 2017. The Tornados had the bases loaded in the ninth inning against Cal Lu last year in the final game. They are ready for the next level.
Willamette. This program has been getting better in the past few years but now the nation will have their eyes upon the Bearcats. Their time in the spotlight could be long if they play like they did in the NWC tournament.
Players to Watch
1B Barry Casey, Texas-Dallas (.446 BA; 78 H; 13 2B; 2 3B; 5 HR; 61 RBI)
2B Carson Cox, Concordia-Texas (.391 BA; 63 H; 11 2B; 1 3B; 4 HR; 40 RBI)
3B Brendan Gardiner, Redlands (.418 BA; 69 H; 17 2B; 4 3B; 4 HR; 45 RBI; SB 26-28)
SS Aaron Singh, Redlands (.370 BA; 60 H; 20 2B; 5 3B; 3 HR; 33 RBI; SB 18-20)
C/3B Gavin Blodgett, Chapman (.367 BA; 58 H; 10 2B; 2 3B; 7 HR; 47 RBI)
DH Tyler Cauley, Texas Lutheran (.401 BA; 65H; 17 2B; 5 3B; 9 HR; 58 RBI)
UTL Brendan Natuzzi, Willamette (.280 BA; 9 2B; SB 10-7; OBA .371; ERA 1.59; 3-0 WL; 11.1 IP; 10K)
OF Riley Schaefer, Texas Lutheran (.434 BA; 79 H; 12 2B; 3 3B; 8 HR; 38 RBI)
OF Connor Bailey, Willamette (.367 BA; 62 H; 11 2B; 4 3B; 14 HR; 53 RBI; SB 6-5; SLG .728)
OF Tristan Kevitch, Chapman (.382 BA; 58 H; 12 2B; 2 3B; 7 HR; 38 RBI)
SP Matt Steindorf, Willamette (2.57 ERA; 10-3; 3 CG; 94.2 IP; 84 H; 63 K; 14 BB)
SP Adam Stead, Redlands (1.56 ERA; 9-0; 1 CG; 80.2 IP 79K; 30 BB)
SP Nathan Malinovsky, Texas Lutheran (1.47 ERA; 10-1; 4 CG; 2 saves; 91.2 IP; 92K; 36 BB)
SP Dylan Drgac, Texas Lutheran (2.29. ERA; 11-1; 4 CG; 1 save; 106.0 IP; 99K; 25 BB)
RP Justin Traxler, Concordia-Texas (ERA 2.69; 6-0; app-GS 20-0; 67.0 IP; 8 saves; 62K; OBA .233)
RP Cody Turner, Chapman (0.90 ERA; 1-0; 4 saves; 20 IP; 27K; 8 BB)