Connor Noble leads ‘Birds in NAIA-West post-season awards haul
By Len Catling
UBC Manager, Communications and Media Relations
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds season finished earlier than they had hoped, but that didn’t stop the team from racking up post-season awards from the NAIA West.
A big reason for the ‘Birds 32-16 win/loss record in 2016-17 was their pitching. Thunderbird hurlers held opponents to a paltry .221 batting average and had a staff ERA of 2.85. Both those numbers are the lowest since the 2000 season. The ‘Birds also allowed the fewest hits in program history with 333, beating the previous mark of 356 set in 2012.
The ace of the staff in 2017, Connor Noble, was named NAIA West Pitcher of the Year and also selected to the All-NAIA First Team. The senior Noble went 7-2 with 1.93 ERA. He also led the ‘Birds in inning pitched with 79.1, striking out 63 and walking only 13. Noble also threw three complete games.
A quartet of Thunderbird positional players joined Noble on the All-NAIA first team.
Junior Mitch Robinson (3B/DH) had a prolific first season in the ‘Blue and Gold’. Robinson topped the ‘Birds with .369 batting average and 39 RBI. He also put together a monstrous slash line of .369/.424/.538.
Senior Vinny Martin (1B) had a break out season for UBC, putting up career high numbers in every offensive category. Martin batted .329, drove in 35 runs and led UBC in total bases with 87. Martin was also a standout with the leather, putting up an eye-popping .998 fielding percentage and earning an NAIA West Gold Glove.
Senior Tyler Yorko (OF) took a deserving spot on the All-NAIA West First Team. Yorko tied for the team lead in runs scored with 29, knocked out 12 doubles and stole five bases.
Freshman Austen Butler (OF) burst onto the scene for the Thunderbirds and showed he is one to watch for years to come. Butler batted .333, scored 29 runs, legged out four triples and swiped six bases to earn a spot on the All-NAIA First Team.
UBC’s junior shortstop Kyle McComb was rewarded for his excellent defense this year with a NAIA-West Gold Glove. The slick-fielding McComb was the general of the ‘Birds infield, recording 127 assists and starting 17 double plays.
UBC Head Coach Chris Pritchett second season at the helm of the Thunderbirds produced a .666 winning percentage, the best in the NAIA West. For his excellent efforts, Pritchett was named co-winner of the NAIA-West Coach of the Year. Pritchett shares the award with Oregon Tech’s Matt Miles. Pritchett’s career record with the ‘Birds now sits at 71-38.