Linfield Wildcats
May 05, 2014
Fisher, Thomassen snag top NWC awards
Complete NWC All-Star Team
Sweeping through the major postseason awards in the same dominating fashion as it rolled through the league calendar, conference champion Linfield put 12 on the All-Northwest Conference Baseball Team, including NWC Player of the Year Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) and NWC Pitcher of the Year Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.).
 
Fisher and Thomassen became the first two players from the same program to sweep the major awards since Linfield's Kelson Brown (player) and Ryan Larson (pitcher) achieved the feat during the 2010 season. Head coach Scott Brosius was chosen as the NWC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season in a vote of the league's coaches, who decided the complete all-star squad prior to its Monday release.
 
Fisher led the team offensively through the NWC season, hitting .375 with 36 hits – including 15 for extra bases – and 25 RBIs. Among league leaders, he finished in the top 10 in 15 offensive categories, including first in runs (24), total bases (63) and stolen bases (9). He also ranked in the top three in all offensive percentages: first in slugging (.656), second in batting (.375) and third in on-base (446). Fisher was one of just two Wildcats to hit a triple – two, to be exact – and hit one of his five home runs as a grand slam.
 
A first team all-Northwest Conference and second team all-West Region selection in 2013, Fisher was twice recognized as the NWC Position Player Student-Athlete of the Week and twice named to the D3baseball.com Team of the Week.
 
After a phenomenal but perhaps overlooked season in 2013, Thomassen got his due in 2014. The junior right-hander posted a perfect 7-0 record and league-best 1.15 ERA against conference opponents. He totaled 42 strikeouts against just five walks in 55.0 pitched over eight appearances. Thomassen hurled his first career shutout in 2014, surrendering just four hits while racking up six strikeouts against Whitman's lineup. In eight conference games, he limited opposing hitters to five extra-base hits and a paltry .193 average.
 
Thomassen was a first team all-Northwest Conference and second team all-West Region pick in 2013. In the postseason, he named to the regional tournament team and threw his first complete game in the NCAA Finals.  
 
Corey VanDomelen (Jr., Tigard, Ore.) and Chris Haddeland (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) also repeated as first team honorees.
 
VanDomelen, Linfield's leadoff hitter and starting shortstop, posted a .320 batting average on 31 hits, including six doubles. He drew a team-high 14 walks as part of a .421 on-base percentage, and went 4-for-5 on stolen base attempts. Among Northwest Conference leaders, he finished in the top 10 in five offensive categories, including plate appearances (118), at-bats (97), runs (21), walks and on-base percentage. VanDomelen also registered a career-high .959 fielding percentage, 29 points higher than last season, in 122 chances.
 
Haddeland pitched five complete games and a conference-leading 64.0 innings en route to a 6-1 record against league opponents. He hurled three shutouts, including a one-hitter, and registered a team-high 44 strikeouts in eight appearances. Linfield's Game 1 starter allowed just five extra base hits out of 47 total and held opponents to a .201 average. In addition to leading the Northwest Conference in innings pitched, complete games and shutouts, Haddeland also posted the league's third lowest ERA (1.41).
 
Four Wildcats – all seniors – claimed second team honors, including two infielders, one outfielder and a pitcher.
 
Clayton Truex (Sr., Kirkland, Wash.) finished as the team's leader in RBIs (26) against conference opponents while batting .368 with six doubles and three home runs. He recorded a hit in all but one league game and finished among the top eight in all three offensive averages, home runs and hits (35). Defensively, he was nearly flawless at first base, registering a .996 fielding percentage in 260 chances.
 
After missing the first three series – about a third of the Northwest Conference season – due to injury, Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho) came back with a vengeance, recording team highs in slugging (.739) and on-base (.456) percentages as part of a .348 average. He smacked five home runs – including one grand slam and three in the same day – while splitting time behind the plate and in a designated hitter role.
 
Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) was great in multiple areas of the game, hitting .306 and driving in 12 runs, swiping five bags and playing errorless baseball in the outfield. He totaled seven extra-base hits (six doubles, one home run), earned eight free bags on four walks and four hit by pitch situations and in an impressive display of his arm, once gunned down a runner breaking for home all the way from center field.
 
Pitching his way to a perfect 5-0 record against league opponents, Zach Brandon (Sr., Cottage Grove, Ore.) posted a 1.79 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched. Linfield's Game 2 starter totaled 28 strikeouts against nine walks and held hitters to a .226 batting average. Of the 40 hits he yielded in eight appearances, just nine went for extra bases, all doubles. Averaging 6.1 innings per start, going seven complete innings in all but two appearances, Brandon was part of three combined shutouts.
 
Eric Lawson (So., Mill Creek, Wash.), Jo Carroll (Jr., Bend, Ore.), Zach Manley (Sr., Coburg, Ore.) and Cody Walker (So., Hood River, Ore.) earned honorable mention consideration.
 
Lawson, a first-year starter at third base, hit .300 with four doubles, driving in 14 runs and scoring 14 times. He totaled seven multiple-hit games in conference action, and was the team leader in sacrifice flies and hits (six combined).
 
Carroll earned the starting spot in left field, where he registered a .947 fielding percentage, and drove in 11 runs on a .314 batting average, including six doubles and one home run. He also swiped five bases, second most on the team.
 
Manley posted a 2-0 record and registered one save in eight relief pitching appearances, recording a 1.42 ERA. The senior, who completed a comeback from elbow surgery, surrendered only nine hits and struck out nine.
 
Walker recorded a pair of victories and saves each, many in pressure situations, while registering a perfect 0.00 ERA against conference opponents. In 9.0 innings pitched in six appearances, he totaled 10 strikeouts against zero walks.
 
Brosius led the Wildcats to a 22-2 Northwest Conference record and second consecutive league title. The defending NCAA Division III championships won every weekend of conference action, including six sweeps, and led the league in scoring (168), team ERA (1.72) and fielding percentage (.978).  In seven years as head coach, Brosius has compiled a 145-39 league record, including six 20-win seasons, en route to five NWC championships.
 
Linfield begins defense of its national crown at the NCAA Division III McMinnville Regional, May 14-17 at Roy Helser Field. The complete regional tournament field is expected to be announced Monday, May 12.
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Nick Fisher and Aaron Thomassen
NWC Player and Pitcher of the Year
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