The 2001 Shawnee
State University Bears look to improve on their 5th place finish at
the 2000 NAIA World Series. Although the Bears have lost
several key contributors from last season's 48-16 team, this year's
squad looks to be much improved through an outstanding recruiting
class and the development of several returning players. The
Bears will have much more pitching depth with at least three
potential draft picks. Team defense has been vastly improved
as well. The Bears may have one of the strongest double play
combos in the NAIA. The offense which led the NAIA in hitting
last season (.375), will be strong once again. With more team
speed, and several potential power hitters, the Bears should be able
to match the 10.1 runs per game they plated in 2000. Coach Pat
Rigsby said about his team, "This is clearly the best
all-around team Shawnee State has ever fielded, with strength in
virtually every facet of the game. Hopefully this will lead to
a repeat berth at the NAIA World Series and a run at the National
Title in 2001."
Breakdown by Position
Junior Keenan Perry (.351, 14 HR, 54 RBI @ Rio Grande) is a two-time
All-Conference selection. He is the best returning hitter in
the AMC and will likely hit 3rd in the lineup. Keenan is a
legitimate All-American candidate.
Senior Joe Buringrud (.412, 22 2B's, 49 RBI, 11 SB's) moves from
third base to his more natural second base position. One of
the premiere infielders in the NAIA, Buringrud was an All-Conference
pick in 2000, and he was named to the All-World Series Team.
Junior Alan Smith (All-Conference @ American River JC) may be the
best short stop in Shawnee State history, and quite possibly the
best all-around player in the conference.
Senior Brandon Hutchinson (.302, 12 HR, 48 RBI @ Rio Grande) was an
All-Conference selection in 2000. One of the top power hitters
in the region, Brandon gives the Bears yet another offensive threat.
Junior Jon Estep (.391, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 21 SB @ Transylvania) will
lead off for the Bears. The MVP at Transylvania, Estep will
prove to be among the top outfielders in the conference.
Junior Fred Brassfield (.374, 19 2B's, 8 3B's, 62 runs, 23 SB's @
John Logan JC) Takes over in center. A Baltimore Oriole draft
pick out of high school, Brassfield has 6.5 speed, a great arm, and
Sophomore Brian Bachman (.380, 18 2B's, 41 RBI, 15 SB's) returns to
right field for the Bears. He was an All-Conference pick in
2000, and looks to pick up where he left off.
Junior Jake Sperry (.371, 14 HR, 66 RBI @ John Logan JC) takes over
behind the plate. Sperry brings power hitting, a strong arm,
and good leadership to the position. Look for Sperry to put up
All-American numbers hitting clean-up.
Junior Ryan Jones (.413, 6 HR, 57 RBI @ Columbus State CC) will man
the DH spot for the Bears. Jones earned All-Conference honors
in junior college. He is a pure hitter with the size,
strength, and speed to terrorize opposing pitchers.
The most talented pitching staff ever at Shawnee State will be led
by 6'4" sophomore, Jeff Kobzowicz. With a 93 mph
fastball, an explosive splitter, and a plus slider, Kobzowicz is a
top draft pick in June. Freshman Jason Williams is a 6'6"
right hander was clocked at 91 mph in the fall and has dominate
stuff. Senior Brandon Hutchinson has 88-90 mph fastball, and a
great change-up. He earned National Pitcher of the Week honors
at Rio Grande last year. Junior Brad Hall was an
All-Conference pick at Columbus State CC in 1999. He was also
clocked over 90 mph in the fall. Senior Joe Moose (9-4, 4.05
ERA @ Point Park) was an All-Conference selection in 2000.
Sophomore Dereck Heming (5-2, 4.03) returns to the Bears staff as
does junior Tim Newton (5-3, 4.19 ERA). The Bears also return
one of the premier closers in the NAIA. Senior Nathan Burcham
was 5-0 and recorded a school record 10 save with a 1.24 ERA.