By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS), Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CORegis Jesuit HS) and Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) from the Willamette University baseball team have been chosen for the 2018 All-West Region Baseball Team as selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). Bailey was named to the First Team, while Brett and Steindorf earned positions on the Second Team.
A total of 50 players were selected to the ABCA All-West Region Team. Fifteen athletes were named to the First Team, while 17 players were chosen for the Second Team and 18 were honored on the Third Team.
Third baseman Brendan Gardiner from University of Redlands was voted as the West Region Position Player of the Year. Nathan Malinovsky of Texas Lutheran University was named West Region Pitcher of the Year.
Willamette qualified for the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament and reached the championship game of the Spokane Regional. Texas Lutheran edged the Bearcats 6-5 in 10 innings in the championship game. Prior to competing in the NCAA Tournament, the Bearcats won the Northwest Conference Tournament Championship. Willamette was 24-16 in regular season games and went 15-9 in the NWC (3rd place).
The Bearcats concluded the season with a 31-19 record, including 22-8 in the final 30 games. At the NCAA Spokane Regional, the Bearcats reached the championship game before falling to Texas Lutheran, 6-5 in 10 innings. Willamette played 50 games for the first time in school history and tied the school record for wins, matching the 1998 team. WU is 59-33 (.641) over the past two seasons.
First Team All-West Region
Connor Bailey (Jr., LF) concluded the year ranked second in NCAA Division III with 15 home runs, including his final home run of the season against Texas Lutheran in the Regional championship game. He registered five homers from April 14-15 in Willamette's three-game sweep of Lewis & Clark College. He was named NWC Baseball Position Student-Athlete of the Week for his efforts against L&C and was chosen for the D3baseball.com Team of the Week. Bailey hit .339 overall for the Bearcats and tied the school record with 64 hits, equaling the total by Mitch Gregg in 1999.
He is sixth in the nation with 120 total bases (4 for a homer, 3 for a triple, etc.), and ranks 13th in home runs per game (0.30 avg.). His six sacrifice flies rank 24th in Division III, while his 55 RBIs are 26th and his .683 slugging percentage ranks 44th.
Bailey's 15 homers in one season are tied for second all-time at Willamette and his 55 RBIs are third all-time. He is fifth at Willamette with 22 career home runs.
"He has the ability to change a game with one swing and on several occasions this year, he did just that," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said.
During the 2018 season, he set a school record with 189 at bats. He connected for a hit in 23 of 25 games at one point, including 16 in a row, and had a stretch of games with an RBI in 20 of 22 outings, including 15 games in a row. He was the only Willamette player to start all 50 games.
In addition to supplying the Bearcats with exceptional offense, Bailey has contributed solid defense as well. This spring, he accumulated 101 putouts in left field, including 14 in WU's five NCAA Tournament games. He has registered 241 career putouts, while achieving a .980 fielding percentage.
He has hit over .300 in each of his three seasons. He batted .311 as a freshman in 2016, then hit .351 in 2017. He owns a .335 career batting average in 128 games played -- all starts. His career totals include 159 hits, 105 runs, 105 RBIs, 30 doubles and seven triples. Bailey was chosen First Team All-NWC this season and was Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2017.
Second Team All-West Region
Jack Brett (Sr., C) led the Bearcats with a .359 batting average and 14 doubles. He hit .412 during the final 30 games of the year, and earned a .364 average (8 of 22) during the NCAA Spokane Regional. He was solid throughout the tournament, with three doubles, two homers, six runs scored and four RBIs.
For the season, he was second on the team with 10 home runs and a .649 slugging percentage. His home run total ranked 27th in NCAA Division III. He provided Willamette with 54 hits during the year, while scoring 27 runs and recording 33 RBIs. He earned at least one hit in 27 of the last 30 games during the season, including one stretch with a hit in 19 of 20 games between March 3 and April 21. He achieved two or more hits in 21 games this year
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. He played in 42 of 45 games and had 39 starts.
"Jack is a true student of the game and great teammate," Swick said. "Those two traits were instrumental for our team."
Brett finished his four seasons at Willamette with a .298 career batting average. He played in a total of 101 games and made 77 starts. He was great as a catcher working with the Bearcats' pitching staff. He recorded 337 putouts in his career with a .985 career fielding percentage. He also registered a .985 fielding percentage this season, while earning 170 putouts and 28 assists. He threw out seven players attempting to steal bases.
As a Bearcat, Brett produced 91 hits, 17 doubles and 17 home runs. His home run total is tied for ninth all-time at Willamette. His career totals also include 51 runs and 55 RBIs. Brett was chosen First Team All-Northwest Conference this season.
Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP) set a Willamette record for wins with an 11-3 record this season. He also set school records with 15 starts and 109 2/3 innings pitched. He was the team's top starter and finished the year with a 2.87 earned run average and a team-high 67 strikeouts. He went beyond the normal performance of a pitcher by starting two games in three days at the NWC Tournament and starting two games in four days at the NCAA Spokane Regional. He threw a total of 15 innings in each tournament.
Steindorf threw eight or more innings in seven games this year. He had four complete games, 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 6-3 victory over Linfield this spring. Against Pacific on Feb. 24, he struck out a career-high 14 batters and pitched nine innings in a 2-1, 10-inning win. He was named NWC Baseball Pitcher of the Week for his efforts against the Boxers.
In the first round of the Spokane Regional, he tossed seven innings in Willamette's 10-5 victory over Chapman University (Calif.). He was the starter for the Bearcats in the Regional championship game. Steindorf concluded the season tied for 11th in NCAA Division III with his 11 wins. He tied for second in the nation with his 15 starts.
"Matt is a bulldog on the mound and one of the best pitchers I have ever been around," Swick said. "He works tirelessly at getting better and has an innate competitiveness which gives him an edge every time he is on the mound. Matt had arguably one of the best seasons in program history."
Over the past two seasons, Steindorf has attained a combined record of 19-5, while striking out 126 batters. In 2018, he limited opponents to a .255 batting average, including just .231 in his final nine appearances.
During his three years, Steindorf has achieved a 25-7 record and a 3.42 career ERA. His 25 wins rank fourth all-time for the Bearcats. He ranks fifth with 38 starts and is sixth with 273 1/3 innings pitched. He is ninth with 164 strikeouts. On defense, he has provided 66 assists. This year, Steindorf was named First Team All-NWC for the second year in a row.