Webb NAIA West Pitcher of the Year
By Len Catling
VANCOUVER - The way the University of British Columbia Thunderbird pitching staff dominated their opposition this year, it should be no surprise they also dominated the NAIA West all-star roster.
Four UBC hurlers got the nod as conference All-Stars with staff ace Alex Webb (Surrey, BC) leading the way, as he was also honoured by being named NAIA West Pitcher of the Year.
Joining Webb on the All-Star team will be starting pitchers Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, BC), Connor Noble (Vancouver, BC), and relief pitcher Tyler Gillies (London, Ont.).
Thunderbirds first baseman Bruce Yari (Waterloo, Ont.) was the lone positional player named to the squad. Yari and CF Tyler Enns (East St. Paul, Man.) also picked up conference gold gloves for their defensive prowess.
Webb went through stages of the season where he was nearly unhittable. The big right-hander and UBC Engineering student went 9-1 with a sparkling 1.36 ERA. He also led the NAIA West in strikeouts with 111.
Taylor had an equally impressive season. The towering right-hander went 9-3 with a 1.80 ERA while striking out 101 batters.
The product of the Port Coquitlam Reds system also threw three complete games.
Noble had a great season as well, albeit with a completely different style than his fire-balling teammates. Using pinpoint location to keep opposing batters off balance.
Noble went 9-4 with a 2.29 ERA. He was also coach Chris Pritchett’s most durable arm, leading the ‘Birds in both games started and innings pitched.
Gillies was a force coming out of the ‘Blue and Gold’ bullpen in 2016. He made 19 appearances, saved six games, and struck out 31 batters in only 31 innings.
He ended the year with a miniscule 1.14 ERA.
Yari was a powerhouse for the Thunderbirds, often carrying the offense for games at a time. The left handed hitting first baseman led the TBirds in hits, runs, RBIs, and walks.
His eye-popping .373 batting average and 1.025 OPS become even more impressive when one considers Yari hits in the cavernous Thunderbird Park for his home games.
The durable Yari played all 58 games for UBC this year and showed his versatility on defence by splitting time between right field and first base.
His defence earned him a NAIA West Gold Glove along with his All-Star nod.
Enns patrolled the massive centerfield at Thunderbird Park with both aggression and grace to earn an NAIA West Gold Glove.
He made only one error all season, a remarkable feat as the swirling winds at UBC’s home park can turn routine fly balls into havoc-inducing adventures.
UBC’s All-Stars will lead the charge as the ‘Birds look to make some noise in the NAIA Championship opening round which goes May 17-20.