McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Led by Northwest Conference Player of the Year Cole Bixenman and Coach of the Year Scott Brosius, the No. 3 Linfield Wildcats made 14 appearances on the 2011 All-NWC Baseball Team, as announced Monday after a vote by the league’s coaches.
Brosius was chosen by his peers as skipper of the year after leading his club to their second-straight conference championship and third over the past four years. The Wildcats concluded the regular season with a 31-9 overall record, including 20-4 in the league, to earn the NWC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. This is the third time Brosius has earned the award; he was also named coach of the year in 2010 and 2008.
Bringing home player of the year honors was the catcher Bixenman, who recently tied Linfield’s all-time mark for career home runs with 32. One of two players to start every contest, he hit .373 over the course of the year, totaling a team-leading 102 total bases and 44 RBI. He also stole nine bases and registered a .995 fielding percentage with just one error in 211 chances behind the plate.
Joining Bixenman on the first team were six teammates: shortstop Kevin Allan, designated hitter Clayton Truex (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.), utility player Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.), starting pitchers Ryan Larson and Robert Vaughn and relief pitcher Evan Hilberg.
Earning honorable mention accolades were first baseman Kevin Coleman, second baseman Eric Evenson, third baseman Dustin Smith, left fielder Nate McClellan (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.) and pitchers Zach Manley (Sr., Coburg, Ore.) and Zach Brandon (Jr., Cottage Grove, Ore.).
Allan led the ‘Cats in doubles (17) while hitting .313 with 19 RBI, 70 total bases and two home runs. Starting 39 of 40 games at shortstop, he was one of just three Linfield players to register a triple and was named conference player of the week once.
In just his first collegiate season, designated hitter Truex ranked second on the club in RBI (39), total bases (82) and home runs (8). He also racked up 12 doubles, and was named conference student-athlete of the week once.
After seeing limited action during the first half of the season, rookie utility player Wilson had an immediate and significant impact once given his chance. After getting an opportunity to start in place of a sick teammate, he went on to start the final 16 games, mostly at center field, and earned league player of the week honors twice. He led the conference in batting average, hitting .460 with 29 RBI, five home runs, 15 multiple-hit games and a team-best .701 slugging percentage. He also tied for the most stolen bases (18) on the club.
Getting the most starts on the mound with 13, Larson went 7-2 over the course of the regular season, including three complete games. Last year’s conference pitcher of the year ranked first on the team and fourth in the conference in total strikeouts (61) and had the third-lowest ERA (1.92) in the league, ranking behind two Linfield teammates.
Vaughn led the league in pitching, registering a 0.82 ERA in nine total appearances on the mound. Despite missing a portion of the season due to injury, he still managed to go 6-1 with eight starts, one save and 55 strikeouts. He also held opponents to an impressive .178 batting average. This marks Vaughn’s third appearance on the all-league team, but his only first team honor.
Hilberg ranked second in the NWC with a 1.30 ERA. He went 4-1 in 13 appearances, including four saves, while tallying 42 strikeouts.
First baseman Coleman started 33 games, hitting .287 with 19 RBI, seven doubles and one home run. He had 10 multiple-hit games and stole two bases over the course of the year.
A four-year letterwinner, Evenson started 31 games at second base. Offensively, he hit .367 with 15 RBI, seven doubles and had 13 multiple-hit games.
Smith made his third career appearance on the all-NWC baseball team after hitting .340 with 20 RBI. He tied Wilson for the most stolen bases on the team (18) and was one of two players to start every game, all at third base.
Left fielder McClellan hit .356 on the year with 15 RBI, two doubles and a triple. The rookie also had 11 multiple-hit games.
Manley went 5-0 in 11 games as pitcher, registering 24 strikeouts with a 1.49 ERA. The first-year Linfield player started four games for the ‘Cats and also had one save.
True freshman Brandon also went 5-0 while posting a 1.42 ERA. He held opponents to a .209 batting average, racked up 18 strikeouts and was named conference pitcher of the week once.
The NWC Pitcher of the Year honor was awarded to Pacific’s Rob Dittrich, who registered a 2.26 ERA and went 8-3 for the Boxers.
NEXT: The Wildcats await their NCAA Regional assignment. Time, location and opponent will be announced Sunday, May 15.
Cole Bixenman and Scott Brosius
NWC Player and Coach of the Year
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128