LEWISTON, Idaho – For the first time in five years, LC State Baseball will have a new middle infield. In fact, nearly every position on the field will be played by someone different than last season with the departure of eight position players that saw regular time in the lineup. Head Coach Jake Taylor‘s lineup will look a lot different this year, but it has the opportunity to be just as potent.
Taylor and his coaching staff brought in experienced talent from across the country with transfers from big-name programs like Utah, Vanderbilt and Oregon. The team also saw an influx of players with collegiate experience from various NWAC schools.
“We definitely graduated a good portion of our squad from last year, but are excited about the young men we recruited and that have been with us for the past five months,” Taylor said. “The majority of our team is new to LC State Baseball but they are not newcomers to collegiate baseball. Time will tell of course with the all of our players but Isaiah Thomas, Sam Olsson, and Carter Booth have stood out offensively and defensively the past few months. On the mound, there should be healthy competition for innings as we feel we have added quality depth to our staff.”
A key strength for the Warriors in 2023 will be pitching. LC State returns a large portion of its bullpen from the last few seasons, including fifth-year senior Greg Blackman. The La Grande native, along with fellow senior Eli Shubert, led LC with five saves each last season.
Cameron Smith saw big innings for the Warriors and was part of the first combined one-hitter in Avista NAIA World Series history. In terms of starters, Drake George and Alec Holmes both bring experience to the mound for LC State.
The depth of the starting rotation and bullpen is something the Warriors will lean on this season. LC added lefties Dallas McGill (Southwestern Oregon CC), Decker Stedman (Linn Benton CC) and Cole Wilkinson (Portland) along with righties Zach Ediger (Everett CC), Jake Green (North Iowa Area CC) and Jace Taylor (Yavapai CC) to bolster the group.
“As the season progresses, the roles of our pitchers will become more concrete,” Taylor explained. “At this point of the year, we will plan on a lot of our pitchers to be interchangeable and utilized in a variety of situations to see where they excel the most.”
Gone are the days of Riley Way and A.J. Davis up the middle for the Warriors, leaving the question as to who will fill those shoes. Pu’ukani De Sa, who spent the majority of last season at third base, will likely make the move to second base. The middle infielder by trade had a breakout postseason with two home runs in the Series. Dominic Signorelli, who also saw time at third last year, is expected to play a larger role at the hot corner in 2023.
Charlie Updegrave put together show-stopping at-bats for LC last year in a pinch hitter role. The Oakridge, Ore., native set the single-game record for RBI with 10 against UBC in a contest where he also hit three home runs. He will see consistent playing time this season as one of the top guys at first base.
Nick Seamons returns to anchor the outfield after hitting 12 home runs and stealing 11 bases in his first season at LC. He will be in good company with Carter Booth (Utah) and Isaiah Thomas (Vanderbilt) as top candidates to join him in the outfield.
The Warriors rotated through three senior catchers last season in Justin Mazzone, Zach Threlfall and Matt James. With the large vacancy behind the plate, LC added experienced backstop Sam Olsson (Oregon) to help lead the crop of younger catchers. The Warriors also have Jakob Marquez, Bulla Ephan and returner Jack Sheward sharing duties behind the dish.
LC State’s schedule is the toughest the program has seen in some time, and probably the most difficult in terms of only NAIA competition. The Warriors open the season in Florida against No. 4 LSU Shreveport (La.), No. 8 St. Thomas (Fla.) and No. 1 Southeastern (Fla.), the team that defeated LC in last season’s Avista NAIA World Series title game. The Warriors close the round-robin East/West Challenge against No. 25 Keiser (Fla.) before a standalone matchup at (RV) Warner (Fla.).
“Our entire program is excited to head to Florida and compete against some of the other top teams in the country to begin the season,” Taylor said. “It will be an initial gauge as to where we currently are and what we will need to improve upon to ensure we are playing our best baseball at the end of the season.”
The Warriors will take on conference foe (RV) UBC in two series during the regular season. Last year LC State went 9-1 against the team from north of the border, including matchups in the Cascade Conference title game and NAIA Opening Round championship.
LC State hosts its home opener against UBC on Feb. 17 and begins CCC play at home against Corban on March 18. April 15-16 marks the final regular-season home weekend and the CCC tournament is slated for May 6-8.
The NAIA Opening Round, presented by Avista, will be hosted at Harris Field May 15-18, and the Warriors will have to play their way into the 2023 Avista NAIA World Series scheduled for May 26-June 2.
Stay up to date with all things Warrior Athletics at lcwarriors.com and on social media @LCWarriors.
INF 5′ 11″ Senior R/R
INF 6′ 2″ Senior R/R
LHP 5′ 10″ Sophomore L/L
C 6′ 0″ Senior R/R
C 5′ 11″ Senior R/R
RHP 5′ 10″ Junior R/R
RHP 6′ 3″ Sophomore R/R
RHP 6′ 1″ Junior R/R
OF 6′ 2″ Sophomore R/R
C 6′ 0″ Freshman R/R