Neale named KCAC Coach of the Year highlighting Baseball All-KCAC nods

Kansas Wesleyan head coach Bill Neale was named as the KCAC Baseball Coach of the Year for a second consecutive season as the All-KCAC teams were selected by a vote of the conference coaches.

In his 10th season leading the Coyotes, Neale led KWU to a conference record 32 wins in conference play and KWU finished the 2024 season 48-12 overall, setting a new school record for wins in a season, surpassing last year’s 44 win total. Neale won his 300th career game overall on March 9 against McPherson College and picked up his 300th career win at Kansas Wesleyan on April 20 against Oklahoma Wesleyan.

The Coyotes had six first-team selections in catcher Tyler Favretto, shortstop Jarrett Gable, outfielders Kendall Foster and Jacob Williamson, starting pitcher Jarrett Brannen and relief pitcher Ritter Steinmann.

Favretto was named to the first-team at catcher. He batted .382 for the Coyotes during conference play with 42 hits, 44 RBI and a KCAC-best 40 walks. He ranked 29th in the KCAC in hits, 11th in RBI, 21st in batting average, third in slugging average (.855), and second in on-base percentage (.569). He ranked ninth in the KCAC in extra base hits with 22 and third in the KCAC in homeruns with 15.

Gable made a second-straight first team in 2024, repeating the honor from a year ago. Gable ranked fourth in the KCAC in batting average during conference play, hitting .432 with 64 hits which ranked second in the KCAC, and 52 RBI which ranked third in the league. He ranked 13th in the KCAC in on-base percentage (.497) and was sixth in slugging average at .797. He ranked third in the KCAC in extra base hits with 29, which included 16 doubles (tied for KCAC lead) and 12 homers, which ranked 12th in the KCAC.

Foster was named to the first team at outfield. He led the KCAC in homeruns during conference play with 20, and led the conference in extra base hits with 38, that included 15 doubles, which was second in the KCAC, and three triples which ranked third in the conference. He hit .412 on the season which ranked seventh in the KCAC, and had 54 hits which ranked sixth in the KCAC. He ranked 14th in the KCAC in on-base percentage (.497), but led the conference in slugging average at 1.031, the only player over 1.000 in the KCAC during conference play.

Williamson was also named to the first team at outfield. He hit .359 for the Coyotes during conference play, which ranked 26th in the league. He had 51 hits which ranked ninth in the KCAC and 34 RBI which ranked 24th. He had 26 extra base hits which ranked fourth, and had 11 homeruns which ranked 10th. He ranked 14th in the KCAC in slugging average at .704.

Brannen repeated selection to the first team at starting pitcher. Brannen led the KCAC in wins for a second season, going 8-1 during conference play in 10 starts. In 53 and a third innings, he had a 4.39 ERA, with 55 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. He averaged 9.28 strikeouts per nine innings. He ranked 10th in the KCAC in ERA, 12th in WHIP, sixth in strikeouts and 10th in strikeouts per nine innings.

Steinmann repeated as a first-team selection at relief pitcher. Steinmann led the KCAC in appearances in conference play with 18, posting a 2-0 record as the main middle reliever for the Coyotes, part of the KWU’s “S-G-S” (Steinmann-Gearlds-Sandoval) finish to games, much like the 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals with “H-D-H” (Herrera, Davis, Holland), used to finish games. He pitched 26 innings, and allowed 21 hits and only five runs, recording 34 strikeouts against nine walks and had a 1.15 WHIP and an 11.77 strikeouts per nine.

First baseman Zack Beatty, starting pitcher Brett Maddock, and reliever KT Gearlds were named to the second-team.

Beatty made a repeat appearance on the second-team this season, this time as first baseman. Beatty hit .388 for the Coyotes during conference play, but missed about 16 games with a hand injury, only playing in 20 of 36 conference contests. He hit nine homeruns which ranked 18th in the KCAC and had 26 hits, 20 runs scored and 30 RBI.

Maddock led the KCAC with 11 starts on the mound, and posted a 6-0 record during conference play, ranking third in the KCAC in wins. He had four complete games which led the KCAC and tossed 56 and two-thirds innings recording 57 strikeouts which ranked fifth in the KCAC and ranked 12th in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.11. He had a 1.26 WHIP which ranked ninth in the KCAC and and a .256 batting average against.

Gearlds excelled as the set up man for the Coyotes in the bullpen. In 15 appearances during conference play, Gearlds tossed 18 innings, recording 23 strikeouts and had an 11.50 strikeouts per nine innings. He had a 1.17 WHIP and a 1.50 ERA, and held batters to a .169 batting average.

Second baseman Adrian Villalobos and designated hitter Cruz Oxford were named to the third-team.

Villalobos played in 23 conference games for the Coyotes, recording 27 hits which included six doubles and a triple and 10 homeruns, which ranked 13th in the KCAC. He drove in 25 runs during the conference season. He had an outstanding series against Saint Mary, when he was named the NAIA National Player of the Week for his efforts that weekend.

Oxford played in all 36 conference games for the Coyotes, hitting .368 in conference play which ranked 22nd in the conference. He also had a .654 slugging average which ranked 19th in the conference. He had 49 hits which ranked 14th and scored 43 runs which ranked ninth. He had eight homeruns which ranked 22nd

The KCAC Gold Glove award honors excellence in the field. Kansas Wesleyan had two recipients of Gold Gloves at the KCAC level in catcher Tyler Favretto and pitcher Brett Maddock.

Favretto had a perfect fielding percentage for the Coyotes in 306 total chances, which included 275 putouts and 31 assists.

Maddock also had a perfect fielding percentage from the pitching position which adeptly fielding his position to ensure the Coyotes could get outs.

The Coyotes won the Shreveport Bracket of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round and advanced to the Avista NAIA World Series for the first time in program history.