Monaghan collects first win with Feather River College
Wasilla’s Nolan Monaghan got a pitching promotion with the Feather River College baseball team and he knocked the opportunity out of the park.
The freshman left-hander tossed a season-high 5.2 innings and earned his first win as Feather River beat Butte 6-4 in the California Community College Athletic Association.
Monaghan, of Wasilla Post 35 fame, fought off nerves by simplifying his approach on the mound.
“I just had to focus and compete,” he told me. “I felt comfortable; just kind of slowing my heart rate down by breathing and just slowing the game down to what I wanted it to be.”
Making just his second start in 11 appearances this season, the southpaw allowed six hits and two earned runs while matching his season high with four strikeouts.
“My curveball and changeup were my pitches today,” he said. “I was able to land them for strikes consistently when I needed them to.”
Monaghan was chased from the game with two outs in the sixth inning after allowing a bunt single. He watched the rest of the game from the dugout as his win hung on the hopes of the bullpen.
“I was kind of anxious because the conference is close right now and beating Butte was a big win for us,” he said.
Monaghan [1-2] lowered his season ERA to 5.40 in 18.1 innings.
However, he’s cut that number in half [2.16] over his last 8.1 innings.
“I’ve learned how to pitch instead of just throwing,” he said. “I like it here a lot. It’s a great environment to get better with great support from the town and my teammates. It’s a huge family.”
Butcher throws shutout, named NSIC Pitcher of the Week
As a transfer to the University of Minnesota-Crookston, Palmer’s Jacob Butcher felt pressure to perform every time he took the mound.
It didn’t help when he started slowly. That made him only press more.
Finally, he stopped trying so hard and went back to being himself.
“At some point,” he told me, “you just have to trust your stuff.”
Butcher, of Wasilla Post 35 fame, tossed a 3-hit shutout with 102 pitches over seven innings in a 6-0 win against the University of Mary in Crookston, Minnesota.
“It felt really good to get a game like that in. Especially in the NSIC, which is definitely for hitters more than it is for pitchers I would say,” he told me. “I've been working on a lot of things this last fall and winter and fell into an early slump to start off but finding consistent outings now that I've gotten more comfortable in my role on the team.”
The junior right-hander walked only one batter and struck out five en route to lowering his earned-run average to 5.40, two runs lower than it was before the game.
A few days later, Butcher was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week for his masterpiece pitching performance.
Butcher has pitched a total of 26.2 innings for Minnesota-Crookston in eight appearances, including five starts. He doesn’t care if he starts or comes in relief.
“I have been both in my career and both are just as exciting when you get your chance to be on the bump,” he said. “The main focus for every pitcher, whether starting or relieving, is to get in there and fill up the [strike] zone and give your team a chance to win.”
Off the field, he enjoys life in Minnesota but admitted that he’s a little home sick.
“I like it here but I miss it a lot back home on the west coast and especially Alaska,” he said. “I hope to move back there because I don't see here as a permanent option for me. But the school and the degrees offered here are great.”
Butcher is currently seeking a degree in Golf and Turfgrass Management.
“Just a fancy name for landscaping,” he said. “And I couldn't be happier to be doing this degree. It ranges in a wide variety of sports fields to golf courses to parks and home lawns.”
Lost teeth can’t slow down Kley for Wenatchee Valley
He lost parts of his front teeth and his team lost both games of a doubleheader, but Matthew Kley of Anchorage still had a smile on his face.
The Wenatchee Valley College third baseman took a shot to the face from the helmet of a Yakima Valley baserunner attempting to steal a base in Game 2 of the NWAC doubleheader in Yakima, Washington.
“My catcher threw the ball a little to the left of the bag and the runner slid head first right into my mouth,” Kley told me. “But still got the runner out.”
He laughed it off and stayed in the game.
After all, he’s from Alaska.
“I told my coach not to laugh when I got up and showed him, although the team thought it was pretty funny when I lost the teeth,” he said.
Kley, of South Post 4 fame, finished 3-for-7 in the doubleheader to raise his batting average to .265 in 11 games.
“I thought I played well after it because I figured I lost my teeth so I had nothing else to lose,” he said. “And probably played better because of that.”
Kley has base hits in six of his next eight games, including the last four.
Take away the 0-of-9 start in his first three college games, and the freshman is batting .440 on the year.
Chapman learns how to pitch all over again at Everett
When Anchorage’s Dalton Chapman arrived at Everett Community College in Washington two years ago he threw a baseball.
Now he pitches.
“I’ve learned a ton,” he told me. “You can throw a ball 100 mph but have no pitching ability and be known as a guy who just throws hard or be a pitcher known as the guy who gets the job done and knows how to get outs.”
Back from a redshirt season, the right-hander has started his sophomore season beautifully with a 1.87 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24 innings.
Chapman, of West Post 1 fame, sat out last season to get his academics in order.
“The reason why I couldn’t play last year was because I took 30 credits that didn’t transfer, so I had two options: redshirt or play and only be able to go to NAIA schools, which isn’t bad but I have dreams to play D1.”
Turns out taking a year off was the best thing that ever happened.
“It gave me a year to get better and mature and now I am in contact with about 15 schools and pro scouts as well,” Chapman said.
He throws a 4-seam fastball, a 2-seamer, changeup and slider.
“My slider is my out pitcher for sure,” Chapman said.
He’s also throwing his fastball in the 92-mph range, quite the jump from when he threw in the mid-80s in Alaska.
The 6-foot-5 pitcher has allowed 10 hits and 14 walks in his five starts.
Dancing around so many base runners is a sign of growth with improved mental makeup because he no longer gets rattled under pressure.
“Every time I face a batter I just tell myself over and over ‘one pitch at a time,’” he said. “As a freshman, I struggled because I would only care about the end result. You have to get two strikes on a guy before punching him out with strike three.”
Nading makes MLB spring appearance with San Diego
After years of bouncing around small towns in the minor leagues, Chad Nading of Anchorage finally got a taste of the big time.
The 28-year-old relief pitcher today made his first appearance with the San Diego Padres in the eighth inning of a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale, Arizona.
Nading - a former Alaska Legion state tournament MVP with East Post 34 - entered the MLB exhibition game with the bases loaded and promptly hit Omar Estevez with the second pitch after getting ahead 0-1 to allow a run to score.
The 6-foot-6 rocket right-hander then struck out O’Koyea Dickson to end the threat.
Nading is the second Alaska pitcher to appear in a spring training game this month after Juneau’s Dylan Baker of the Cleveland Indians threw an inning on March 9.
In 2013, Nading participated in extended spring training with the Boston Red Sox.
Before and after that he bounced around independent leagues all over the country and even spent time in Japan with the Ishikawa Million Stars.
By 2015, however, he was out of the game altogether.
Last year, he returned to the game with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association. He had incredible success out of the bullpen with a 1.70 ERA in 43 games to help Wichita reach the championship series.
Nading was twice drafted by MLB teams, first in 2006 in the 36th round by the Detroit Tigers out of high school and then again in 2009 in the 37th round by the Texas Rangers out of UNLV.
Osborne having career year w/ long ball at Dickinson St
Anchorage’s Sagan Osborne smoked the ball twice to the outfield wall in his first two plate appearances, but the Dickinson State baseball player had no hits to show for it.
But he didn’t hang his head.
Instead, he waited for the pitcher to hang a pitch.
That’s exactly what happened when Osborne went yard in his next at-bat for his career-high fifth home run of the season for the NAIA Blue Hawks of Dickinson, North Dakota.
“My home run was a bit of a relief in that game,” he told me. “I was 0-2 and felt like I had been chasing pitches I shouldn't, but my coach told me to go in aggressive and look for something up. The pitcher hung a curveball and I got ahold of it.”
Osborne, of Dimond Post 21 fame, is enjoying another big year at the plate this year on the heels of a strong junior season.
The third baseman has posted career highs in home runs, batting average [.411], on-base percentage [.463], slugging percentage [.726] and stolen bases  in 19 games.
With just two walks in 75 plate appearances, he goes to the plate to hit.
“Early in the year I feel like I don't walk much because not much scouting happens and I get a lot of first-pitch fastballs,” he said. “Most of the time I'm going to put that ball in play. Once conference season comes around and pitchers are more familiar with me it'll lead to longer at bats and more walks.”
Osborne has been incredibly effective, driving in 21 runs on 30 hits and scoring 24 runs in 19 games. The decline in his game is doubles total, dropping from 21 to four, in part because he’s hitting more balls out of the park.
“I'd like to get at least 10 [home runs] on the year and feel like I am capable of doing that,” he said. “I worked a lot on my power this summer and it is showing. I think that has contributed to my lower doubles number because those balls are leaving the yard this year. Also pretty much everyone we play plays me extra deep so balls hit in the gap haven't been able to fall as often this year.”
Homza’s hot bat a bright spot for struggling Brown U.
His team isn’t winning, but Anchorage’s Willy Homza has been winning the one-on-one battle in the box.
The sophomore third baseman has more base hits than strikeouts and owns a .360 on-base percentage for a Brown University team that has started the NCAA D1 season 0-6 after getting swept by Nichols State and Texas A&M in back-to-back weekend series.
In today’s finale against Texas A&M, Homza collected his first career 3-hit game and set the table for his team’s lone run in a 5-1 loss in College Station, Texas.
The No. 2 hitter doubled and later scored to put Brown up 1-0 in the third inning. It was his second straight hit off Aggies starter Mitchell Kilkenny, a former Texas Class 5A Pitcher of the Year from Houston.
“He threw me two changeups and I sat on the second one,” Homza told me. “My first at-bat I got a fastball and got a barrel to it.
“I felt like I was recognizing pitches well right out of the hand.”
He lined out his third at-bat to end the fifth.
In the eighth inning, he singled off a different pitcher to raise his batting average to a career-high .273.
Homza, of South Post 4 fame, has banged out base hits in four of the first six games and is second on the team with nine total bases. He’s the only Brown player to hit a double and a triple this year.
“Extra-base hits are a combination of being stronger and a more aggressive approach,” he said.
Coaches tend to put their best contact hitter in the No. 2 spot, so it’s a role Homza earned behind the scenes. It’s now carrying over to the field.
“I think it’s easier to settle in when I’m consistently playing every game and getting quality ABs,” he said. “I feel like we have a good offensive plan this season.”
Bynum finds his grove, hitting stroke at Northern Illinois
Back-to-back two-hit games helped Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks raise his batting average 56 points in one day for the Northern Illinois University baseball team.
The junior transfer went a combined 4-for-9 at the plate in a doubleheader loss to Southern Illinois during NCAA D1 play in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Three of his four hits went for extra bases, including his first double and triple, in this his ninth and tenth game with the Huskies.
Bynum, of Monroe Catholic High fame, raised his season average to .278 and extended his hitting streak to five games.
The starting centerfielder has reached base in all 10 games this season.
Bynum leads Northern Illinois in runs , walks  and triples  while ranking second in total bases  and on-base percentage [.422].
A former Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year in both baseball and basketball his senior year of high school, he was drafted in the MLB when the Cincinnati Reds picked him in the 16th round.
Bynum is one of only two non-pitchers from Alaska to be drafted in the first 20 rounds.
Last season at Arizona Western College, he set career highs in batting average [.351], slugging percentage [.551], doubles , triples  and home runs  in 51 games.
Winter College Coaches Clinic, Jan. 13-16 @ The Dome
Join Everett Community College head coach Levi Lacey and staff for the ninth annual Winter College Coaches Clinic.
The 4-day youth camp runs Jan. 13-16 at The Dome in Anchorage.
Get in-depth instruction in all aspects of the game, detailed practice lesson plans and important information for youth coaches and parents.
This high-paced, informative camp now features extended times for more instruction.
We're not talking just hitting and pitching - it's infield practice, base-stealing strategy, outfield positioning, conditioning and more.
Save 20% to 30% with early registration. Sign up now, save now.
Under Lacey’s management, Everett CC has won 154 games since 2012 and the team captured the NWAC title in 2013 and placed second in 2016.
"We will challenge our campers to become better players." Lacey said. "The delivery of our information is what sets us apart from other camps. We want the athlete to understand information as well as execute the information physically."
As a bonus, a special parent & coaches session will be held Saturday, Jan. 14, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and also Sunday, Jan. 15, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Learn what college coaches are looking for and how to get your player to the next level.
ABA all-stars race to 4-0 record at Arizona Fall Classic
Pitching and defense, hitting and base running, the Alaska Baseball Academy all-stars controlled all aspects of the game at the Arizona Fall Classic.
“I am sure [this performance] will lead to more Alaskan ball players finding college opportunities,” he said.
On Day 1, the ABA all-stars opened with a 13-3 win over a D’backs scout team from Canada in the first of two games. The Alaskans banged out 15 hits and got a wonder start from Bryce Swofford of Juneau.
With a 90 mph fastball in his arsenal, the lanky righty struck out seven over four innings. Alaska’s hit parade was keyed by Anchorage’s Jonny Homza and Raleigh Pigg, and Paul Steffensen of Kenai.
In the second game, Alaska edged a Padres scout team 1-0 behind a strong pitching performance by Pigg, who struck out eight, and Steffensen, who singled home the lone run.
On Day 2, the ABA all-stars kept it going with a 3-2 win over a team from southern California. Anchorage pitchers Jake Andresen and Parker Johnson combined for 10 Ks over eight innings of work.
Defensively, catchers Sladen Mohl of Anchorage and Juneau’s Michael Cesar of Juneau threw out three baserunners apiece.
On Day 3, the Alaskans ended the tournament with an 8-1 victory over MVP Baseball, a national select team with players from 20 states.
Homza – last year's Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year who has committed to the University of Hawaii – remained hot at the plate with a triple and double while also contributing on the mound with a pair of scoreless innings.