Top-Cat Ben Leid Headlines Baseball All-GNAC Team As POTY
Central Washington's Ben Leid leads the 2024 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball All-Conference Team as the Player of the Year.
Central Washington's Ben Leid leads the 2024 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball All-Conference Team as the Player of the Year.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore.  – When you lead the conference in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, good things are bound to happen. That is exactly the resume that Central Washington’s Ben Leid built en route to being voted by conference coaches as the Player of the Year to lead the 2024 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball All-Conference Team.

Leid has been a near-constant presence for the Wildcats during the team’s run to its seventh appearance at the GNAC Championships, starting 45 of the team’s 48 games this season. Through those contests, nobody in the conference has been a tougher out than the junior from Corvallis, Ore., who leads the league with a .428 batting average, .487 on-base-percentage and a .659 slugging percentage on a conference-leading 73 hits. The result has been 44 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 114 total bases while he has demonstrated his power with 13 doubles, two triples and eight home runs.

Across 32 GNAC games, Leid notched multiple hits on 22 occasions as he helped CWU to a 15-17 conference record and the team’s second straight postseason appearance. Leid is the first Wildcat to earn Player of the Year honors since Adam Fahsel in 2022 and is the seventh player from Central Washington to earn the honor overall.

Player of the Year:
Ben Leid, Central Washington
Co-Pitchers of the Year: Arturo Alvarez, Western Oregon; Kyle Ethridge, Northwest Nazarene; Colin Driscoll, Saint Martin's
Newcomer of the Year: Marcus Manzardo, Central Washington
Freshman of the Year: Carter Walsh, Northwest Nazarene
Coach of the Year:
Joe Schaefer, Northwest Nazarene

                                                                           FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
*+ Kyle Ethridge Northwest Nazarene SP 6-0 SR Alta Loma, Calif.
*^@ Arturo Alvarez Western Oregon SP 6-4 SR Inglewood, Calif.
*$ Dylan Chalmers Western Oregon SP 6-2 JR Missoula, Mont.
Colin Driscoll Saint Martin's SP 6-2 JR West Linn, Ore.
Wade Duncan Northwest Nazarene RP 6-0 FR Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
*+^$ Austin Ohland Central Washington C 6-1 SR Maple Valley, Wash.
@ Jack Nehler Montana State Billings 1B 6-0 SO Gresham, Ore.
Marcus Manzardo Central Washington 2B 6-0 JR Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
*@^ Duke Pahukoa Northwest Nazarene 3B 6-2 SR Maui, Hawaii
Cole Calnon Northwest Nazarene SS 5-10 JR Snohomish, Wash.
*$ Ben Leid Central Washington OF 6-2 JR Corvallis, Ore.
* Trevor Tishenkel Northwest Nazarene OF 6-1 SR San Diego, Calif.
*$ Payton Flynn Montana State Billings OF 6-3 SR Kennewick, Wash.
* Kevin Varner Jr. Central Washington OF 5-11 SR Wailuku, Hawaii
# Kaden Kirshenbaum Montana State Billings UTL 6-0 JR Federal Way, Wash.
$ AJ Cortese Western Oregon DH 6-1 SR Loveland, Colo.


                                                                     SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE  
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
Jonathan Garza II Central Washington SP 6-0 JR Othello, Wash.
Daniel Charron Central Washington SP 5-10 JR Pasco, Wash.
Jacob Memmott Western Oregon SP 6-5 JR Central Point, Ore.
Nate May Montana State Billings C 6-1 JR Murrieta, Calif.
Andrew Sharp Central Washington 1B 6-0 SO Santa Clarita, Calif.
@ Bodee Wright Montana State Billings 2B 5-9 JR Morgan, Utah
Dylan McLaughlin Saint Martin's 3B 6-0 SR Moorpark, Calif.
Zack Blaszak Montana State Billings SS 6-0 JR Park City, Utah
Carter Walsh Northwest Nazarene OF 5-9 FR Boise, Idaho
Austin Schaler Saint Martin's OF 5-9 SR Yelm, Wash.
# Curran Mitzel Western Oregon OF 6-0 SR Hillsboro, Ore.
Bryan Rojas Northwest Nazarene UTL 6-3 JR Provo, Utah
Brock Molenda Montana State Billings DH 6-2 JR Colbert, Wash.
Trevor McCorkle Saint Martin's DH 5-10 SR Tacoma, Wash.


                                                               HONORABLE MENTION ALL-CONFERENCE  
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
Nolan Milliman Central Washington RP 6-3 JR Yorba Linda, Calif.
Parker Bleggi Montana State Billings 3B 5-8 JR Driggs, Idaho
Ryan Jeffrey Montana State Billings OF 6-0 JR Park City, Utah
Gavin Brubaker Northwest Nazarene 2B 6-0 FR Lakewood, Wash.
@ Adam Paganelli Northwest Nazarene OF 5-10 SR Maple Valley, Wash.
Peter Hollabaugh Saint Martin's UTL 6-0 FR Normandy Park, Wash.
#% Mark Steward Saint Martin's C 6-2 SR Meridian, Idaho
$^ Justice Yamashita Saint Martin's SP 5-9 SR Honolulu, Hawaii
Devin Bell Western Oregon RP 6-4 SO La Grande, Ore.
Owen Bischoff Western Oregon OF 5-11 SR Mt. Angel, Ore.
$ John Oleson Western Oregon 1B 6-4 JR Portland, Ore.
Randy Stultz Western Oregon UTL 5-11 JR Bigfork, Mont.
*-Unanimous Selection | $-2023 First-Team All-GNAC | #-2023 Second Team All-GNAC | @-2023 Honorable Mention All-GNAC | ^-2022 First Team All-GNAC | +-2021 First Team All-GNAC | %-2021 Honorable Mention All-GNAC


For the first time in conference history, Pitcher of the Year honors are split between a trio of co-honorees. Finishing in a dead heat in voting, Western Oregon’s Arturo Alvarez, Northwest Nazarene’s Kyle Ethridge and Saint Martin’s Colin Driscoll have all been named GNAC Co-Pitchers of the Year.

Alvarez is no stranger to being one of the best arms in the conference as he was named the Pitcher of the Year and the Newcomer of the Year in 2022. His selection marks the 18th time overall that a Western Oregon pitcher has earned the honor. It is the sixth consecutive season that the award has headed to Monmouth with Alex Roth (2018-19), Mike Peterson (2021), Alvarez (2022) and Dylan Chalmers (2023) all earning the honor previously with no award given in 2020 due to COVID-19. Alvarez is now the third player from WOU to earn the honor multiple times.

Alvarez finished the regular season with a 7-3 record for the most wins of any pitcher in the conference. Across his 11 starts, the senior right-hander has compiled a 4.00 ERA that ranks sixth in the league while amassing 42 strikeouts and holding the opposition to a .247 batting average that also ranks sixth in the conference through 63 innings of work.

Ethridge has been the top arm for the regular season champion Nighthawks and owns a 3.62 ERA that ranks third in the conference heading into the postseason. The senior left-hander from Alta Loma, Calif., has amassed a 5-3 record across 11 starts this season. He has struck out 53 batters through 72 innings of the work, the second-highest workload of any pitcher in the league. Ethridge also ranks second in the conference with a .223 opponent batting average. He is the second Nighthawk to earn Pitcher of the Year honors after Ty Pohlmann was also named a Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2023.

Among all three Co-Pitchers of the Year, Driscoll tops them all with a 3.17 ERA and a .219 opponent batting average to lead the league. The junior right-hander has been nothing short of lights-out through 12 starts for the Saints this season, racking up 58 strikeouts through 71 innings and going the distance three times en route to compiling a 5-5 record. Driscoll is just the second Saint Martin’s player in conference history to earn Pitcher of the Year honors and is the first since Joe Silva in 2003.

Northwest Nazarene leads all programs with five total selections to the first team as Ethridge is joined by fellow pitcher Wade Duncan, third baseman Duke Pahukoa, shortstop Cole Calnon and outfielder Trevor Tishenkel. Duncan, a right-handed reliever, leads the GNAC with eight saves this season and owns a 6-1 record to go along with a 1.95 ERA. Pahukoa was a unanimous selection and makes his third appearance on the all-conference team after finishing the regular season with a .300 batting average and a .513 slugging percentage to go along with 34 RBIs and 36 runs scored on eight doubles and eight home runs.

Heading into the postseason, Calnon has 20 RBIs to his name along with a .266 batting average that includes eight doubles, two triples and a home run. Tishenkel was another unanimous selection and leads all NNU batters with a .339 batting average that ranks eighth in the league and 42 RBIs on 16 doubles, a triple and nine home runs.

Two more of the conference’s special awards also go to Nampa as Northwest Nazarene head coach Joe Schaefer was voted by his peers as the Coach of the Year and Carter Walsh was named the Freshman of the Year while also landing second team all-GNAC honors. Schaefer’s award is the second of his career with his first coming in 2021. It is the third time that an NNU coach has received the honor. Walsh was named the Freshman of the Year after a regular season where he led the league with 24 stolen bases and posted a .311 batting average to rank second on the team while driving in 31 runs. He is the fifth Nighthawk to earn the honor and the first since Logan Parker in 2011.

Central Washington follows NNU with four selections to the first team, including Newcomer of the Year Marcus Manzardo. The junior second baseman from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, transferred to WOU after two seasons at Spokane Falls Community College and has quickly become one of the most valuable players for the Wildcats. In addition to his .342 batting average that ranks seventh in the league and 19 RBIs, Manzardo also leads the conference with 44 runs scored.

Along with Manzardo, senior catcher Austin Ohland and senior Kevin Varner Jr. both also join Leid on the all-conference first team. Ohland’s unanimous selection marks the fourth first-team honor for the Maple Valley, Wash., native and makes him just the second player in conference history to earn four first-team selections along with CWU’s Jamie Nilsen (2005-08). This season, Ohland ranks fifth in the GNAC with a .348 batting average, is second in the league with 41 runs scored and is fourth in the conference with 40 RBIs. Varner Jr. ranks third in the GNAC with a .360 batting average and is second behind only Leid with 68 hits on the season, including 16 doubles, three triples and three home runs.

 Joining Alvarez on the first team for WOU are fellow pitcher Dylan Chalmers and designated hitter AJ Cortese. Chalmers earned his second consecutive unanimous selection to the first team after a regular season where he amassed a 3.48 ERA that ranks second in the league along with a 5-2 record through 64.2 innings. Cortese leads the conference with 17 doubles on the year and owns a .310 batting average that is tied for the team lead and goes along with 21 RBIs.

Montana State Billings also earned three first-team honorees and is led by unanimous selection Payton Flynn. The senior outfielder earned his second consecutive first-team all-GNAC honor by leading the league with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 123 total bases. On the season, Flynn held a .330 batting average and a .615 batting average.

First baseman Jack Nehler made his first appearance on the first team after a season where he led the team and ranked second in the league with both a .397 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. Kaden Kirshenbaum also made his first team debut as he followed Flynn with 10 home runs to rank second in the GNAC. Across the season, Kirshenbaum hit .299 with a .435 slugging percentage that also included 11 doubles and a triple.