BASEBALL YOTE NOTES - EDITION 1 (2012 SEASON PREVIEW)
COMING UP: at NAIA Desert Classic, Feb. 2-4, Anthem, Ariz.
2012 SYNOPSIS: With six everyday players returning this season and a quality group of recruits to accompany the pitching staff, the Coyotes will be in position once again to contend for the NAIA West title and its automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships.
LAST SEASON / PLAYERS LOST: The Coyotes had an up-and-down 2011 season, finishing third in the NAIA West North Division, but made a run at the NAIA West Tournament title, advancing to the championship game, losing to British Columbia in a winner-take-all match-up for a berth to the NAIA Championships. The Yotes had highs-and-lows during the season – recording three win streaks of six-or-more, including a season-high 12 game streak, but also had losing skids of five and seven games. Two All-NAIA West players – outfielder Kyle Douglas (.272 9 HR 47 RBI), the league’s leader in RBI, along with pitcher Mitch Dame (9-0 1.78 ERA), who tied a school record for wins without a loss, are gone – along with first-baseman Gavin Gamboa (.300 2 HR 17 RBI), catcher Jordan Lanman (.212 2 HR 15 RBI), and pitchers Bobby Wassmann (5-4 2.76 ERA) and Levi Mitchum (6-3 3.99 ERA). In all, the Yotes must replace 13 players from last season’s team.
ABOUT THE COACH: The 2012 season marks the 25th year in The C of I baseball program for head coach Shawn Humberger, his 12th year as Coyote skipper. Last season, he led the squad to a 33-21 mark and advanced to the title game of the NAIA West Qualifying Tournament. During his tenure, Humberger has compiled a 365-240-1 record, including a third-place finish at the 2002 NAIA World Series and a trip to the 2010 NAIA National Tournament. He has been named Cascade Conference Coach of the Year on six different occasions (2002, 2005, 2006. 2007, 2008, and 2009), along with earning NAIA Region I Coach-of-the-Year and CCC Men's Coach-of-the-Year for all sports in 2002. A native of Twin Falls, Idaho, Humberger graduated from Twin Falls High, played for the College of Southern Idaho for two seasons, and played at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for one year. In 1984, Humberger was part of the CSI national championship junior-college team. In addition, he was named to the 1985 Junior College All-America team. Humberger, a 1989 C of I graduate, also served as the facilities coordinator for the J.A. Albertson Activities Center for ten years, is a physical education instructor at the College, and coached Nampa's American Legion baseball program for eight seasons. He and his wife, Michelle, live in Caldwell - with his son, Riley, a sophomore infielder on the Coyote team.
NAIA WEST / NATIONAL POLL: The NAIA conducted its conference and preseason national polls during November, with the Coyotes picked to finish second in the NAIA West. British Columbia earned top billing, followed by the Coyotes and Menlo, while Lewis-Clark State (which competes in the NAIA West schedule, but does not factor in the postseason), earned the top spot in their unaffiliated poll. In the Top-25 poll, Oklahoma City earned the top spot – though five different teams earned first-place votes. Defending champ, Concordia (Calif.) was second, followed by Lee (Tenn.), Lubbock Christian (Texas), and Embry-Riddle (Fla.). Lewis-Clark State was No. 11 and British Columbia was No. 20, while the Yotes received one voter point. Two other Coyote opponents’ were in the tabulation – No. 17 Fresno Pacific (Calif.) and Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), which received votes.
POSITION BY POSITION – PITCHERS: The four weeks of non-conference games leading up to the NAIA West opener will give the Yotes ample time to determine roles on the mound – as three of the four weekend starters graduated. A trio of returners look to be in position to grab a spot – including Todd Griffiths (Meridian, Idaho / Lower Columbia CC), Chad Yeggy (Boise, Idaho / Centennial HS), and Joshua Orr (Port Townsend, Wash. / Lane CC). Griffiths started six games last season, posting a 3-3 record with a 3.96 ERA, while Orr had an up-and-down 2011, finishing 5-4 with a 6.37 ERA. Yeggy has been a bullpen mainstay for three seasons, going 2-4 with a 4.46 ERA last year, including a team-high three saves. A pair of junior college transfers will also have their chance to join the rotation, as lefty Zachary Fabricius (Fruitland, Wash. / Treasure Valley CC) and righty Taylor Nicholson (Emmett, Idaho / Columbia Basin CC) are coming off solid seasons. Fabricius went 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA and Nicholson posted a 6-1 record and a 0.69 ERA – both earning All-NWAACC honors. Returners Bryan Hildebrand (Eagle, Idaho / Eagle HS), Brad Hahn (Caldwell, Idaho / Baylor U.), and Mitchell O’Dell (Nampa, Idaho / Nampa HS) will battle for innings in the bullpen, along with three newcomers – Michael Garza (Othello, Wash. / Columbia Basin CC), Dylan Kowitz (Idaho Falls, Idaho / Bonneville HS), and Seth Raver (Kuna, Idaho / Kuna HS). Hildebrand made strides during the Fall season after posting a 4.66 ERA last year, with Garza, a junior transfer, and Kowitz, a freshman, also showing promise.
POSITION BY POSITION – CATCHERS: After two years of splitting time behind the plate, junior Jarel Lewis (Boise, Idaho / Capital HS) looks to take over the No. 1 catcher’s role in 2012. Lewis, who earned All-NAIA West honors as a freshman and Gold Glove honors as a sophomore, hit .275 with two homers and 15 RBI last year – while throwing out 37-percent of would-be base stealers. Backing up Lewis will be a question mark heading into the year – as four players will contest for playing time. Junior Jesse Dodd (Eagle, Idaho / Loyola Marymount U.) is the only returner in the mix, coming off a sophomore season where he hit .250 with nine doubles and 20 RBI. Three freshmen will also be in the mix – Cameron Packham (Kuna, Idaho / Kuna HS), Michael Lane (Salmon, Idaho / Salmon HS), and Kade Henderson (Butte, Mont. / Butte HS).
POSITION BY POSITION – INFIELDERS: The Yotes will have options galore throughout their infield, as many of the players are interchangeable throughout the four positions. The battle at third-base will be between a trio of returning players – seniors Jeffrey Harris (Caldwell, Idaho / Wenatchee Valley CC) and Todd Griffiths, and sophomore Anthony Pawelek (Elko, Nev. / Elko HS). Harris hit .305 with 14 RBI last year, spending most of his time on the right side of the infield, while Griffiths, who hit .288 with 23 RBI, will find a place in the infield when he is not on the mound. Pawelek hit just .111 as a freshman, but drew 15 walks and had a .354 on-base percentage. Returning shortstop, Tanner Hodges (Sisters, Ore. / Mount Hood CC), is coming off a quality junior year – hitting .322 with 22 RBI, and looks to be the everyday player. Both Griffiths and returner Andrew Sewell (Lakewood, Wash. / Pierce CC) will play in supporting roles. Griffiths will also see plenty of time at second-base, where he started 13 games in 2011. Both the sure-handed Sewell, and sophomore Riley Humberger (Caldwell, idaho / Caldwell HS), will see time at second. First-base will be by committee this year, as the Yotes look to keep a hot bat in the line-up. Expect Jesse Dodd and Jarel Lewis to find time at first when not catching or serving as a designated hitter, with Harris, who started 15 games their last season, also seeing time. Transfer Jake Vincent (Caldwell, Idaho / Blue Mountain CC) will serve as a utility infielder.
POSITION BY POSITION – OUTFIELDERS: The outfield is led by preseason NAIA All-American, Izaac Garsez (Caldwell, Idaho / Caldwell HS), coming off a junior season in which he set a new school record with nine triples, hitting .344 with eight homers, 38 RBI, and 31 stolen bases. Garsez, the NAIA West Player of the Year, will be the everyday right fielder for the third-straight year. Returning after a year off is Tyler Andazola (Caldwell, Idaho / Caldwell HS), who looks to be an impact player in center field. Andazola hit .351 as a freshman in 2010, stealing nine bases – while using his speed to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Left field will be by committee – led by returner Brett Ward (Nampa, Idaho /Nampa HS), who hit .274 with nine RBI last season, and the versatile Jarel Lewis. Three newcomers will also be in the mix – transfers Nick Muncy (Caldwell, Idaho / Whitworth U.) and Zachary Fabricius, along with freshman Parker Vernon (Redmond, Ore. / Redmond HS).
SURVEYING THE SCHEDULE: The Yotes will play a challenging schedule this season – a slate that will feature a staggering 30 home games at Wolfe Field. The season will start with The C of I making their first-ever trip to Arizona during the first weekend in February, playing in the NAIA Desert Classic against perennial powers Point Loma Nazarene, Fresno Pacific, Wayland Baptist, and Lewis-Clark State. The team returns home for the next three weekends (in fact, the Coyotes will play 17-of-18 games at home in one stretch this season) – meeting Division III opponents’ Whitman and Willamette, along with NAIA foe Dickinson State. Also on the schedule for the first time since 2007 is Canyon County rival, Northwest Nazarene – as the teams will play four single games, two in Caldwell and two in Nampa. The conference season will have the Yotes making road trips to Lewis-Clark State, Concordia, Corban, and Patten, while British Columbia, Oregon Tech, Menlo, and Simpson make the trip to Caldwell.
CHANGES IN THE NAIA WEST: The 2012 schedule within the NAIA West Grouping has changed immensely this season – as all nine teams will play each other this season. Each squad will have four home series and four series on the road, with every game in the 32-game schedule being a nine inning contest. The season will culminate in a five-team tournament (not including Lewis-Clark State), with the winner receiving a berth to the NAIA National Championships.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information on The C of I baseball program, head to the official homepage of the Coyotes, http://www.collegeofidaho.edu/baseball.