Six GNAC Players Earn Preseason All-West Region Honors
Last season, Sheehan led the Nighthawks with a .341 batting average and 63 hits. He committed just two errors last season for a .982 fielding percentage.
Last season, Sheehan led the Nighthawks with a .341 batting average and 63 hits. He committed just two errors last season for a .982 fielding percentage.

Friday, January 26, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the GNAC baseball season just one week away, the conference has received recognition with six selections to the 2018 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II West Region Preseason Team.

Northwest Nazarene senior outfielder Casey Sheehan leads the GNAC as the lone first-team selection following his outstanding 2017 campaign. He is joined by Central Washington senior pitcher Mackenzie Gaul, Montana State Billings junior outfielder Jalen Garcia, Saint Martin’s junior pitcher Luke Hare, Western Oregon senior infielder Jay Leverett and sophomore utility Connor McCord as selections to the second team.

Sheehan, an All-West Region selection last year, will carry much of the offensive load this season as the Nighthawks bid farewell to four All-GNAC selections from a year ago. The senior led Northwest Nazarene with a .341 batting average and 63 hits, 12 of which came of the extra-base variety. In his second season with NNU, Sheehan hopes to continue his reliable defensive efforts, committing just two errors for a .982 fielding percentage.

Utilized in different pitching roles by their respective teams, Gaul, Hare and McCord are the three GNAC pitchers selected for regional honors. Gaul, the reigning GNAC Pitcher of the Year, earned All-West Region recognition after compiling a league-best 3.18 earned run average and a 6-2 record with three shutouts, 72 strikeouts and three complete games in 14 starts.

Hare was an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection after going 3-3 in 36.2 innings with a 1.96 earned run average in 18 relief appearances. McCord went 2-2 in six starts as a pitcher and 25 as a first baseman. He was named the 2017 GNAC Freshman of the Year after hitting .312 with 26 runs batted in and compiling a 4.37 earned run average.

Rounding out the second team is a pair of position players poised for another strong offensive season. Garcia and Leverett, who were All-GNAC picks a season ago, both recorded .500 slugging percentages and tied for seventh in the GNAC with nine stolen bases each. Garcia was second on the Yellowjackets in batting (.327) and recorded five home runs with 38 runs batted in. Leverett recorded 43 hits, 12 doubles and 39 runs for a .309 batting average and a .423 on-base percentage.

To go along with Western Oregon’s two selections, the Wolves are also ranked No. 7 in the NCBWA Division II West Region Preseason Poll after receiving 25 points. Central Washington (6), Montana State Billings (3) and Northwest Nazarene (2) round out the teams receiving votes.

The 2018 campaign begins next week when Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington take the road in non-conference action. Western Oregon, Montana State Billings and Concordia start its slate the following week while Saint Martin’s visits Hawaii Hilo on Feb., 11, for a three-game swing. Conference play begins on Fri., Mar. 2, when Central Washington visits the Nighthawks.