Welcome to our new web site!
To give our readers a chance to experience all that our new website has to offer, we have made all content freely avaiable, through October 1, 2018.
During this time, print and digital subscribers will not need to log in to view our stories or e-editions.
McKENZIE — Coach Rusty Thompson (288-229-3) enters his twelfth season as the Bethel Wildcat skipper. Coach Thompson and his staff are excited as well as confident about the 2019 season. …
McKENZIE — Coach Rusty Thompson (288-229-3) enters his twelfth season as the Bethel Wildcat skipper. Coach Thompson and his staff are excited as well as confident about the 2019 season. Assistant Coach Nick Thompson enters his twelfth season while Lee Whitaker will be entering his second year as a Bethel assistant coach.
Axel Cruz returns to the Wildcat family as a student assistant after competing with the Milwaukee Brewers organization; Axel plans to graduate from Bethel with a degree in Fitness and Wellness in May. The Wildcat coaching staff looks forward to competing in the always competitive Southern States Athletic Conference which is recognized as one of the best in the nation.
Bethel returns five starters from the 2018 campaign, two of those are seniors and each looking to contribute significantly once again.
Additionally, the Wildcats return six pitchers from last year’s squad which proved to be one of the strongest pitching staffs in the country. Trevor Bishop finished 1st in the nation for walks allowed. The Wildcats also return several players who platooned giving them good exposure and experience. The recruiting class appears to be a dominant group for the upcoming season. New talent will fill the voids from the previous season and help propel a complete 2019 Wildcat team to successfully compete at the highest level of baseball in the NAIA.
Trevor Bishop, a three-year conference starter and 2nd team SSAC All-Conference member returns for his senior season in the rotation. Bishop looks to build upon his award-winning career and continue to be the anchor of the pitching staff. Newcomer Giovannie Nieves Ortiz from Puerto Rico looks to make an immediate impact to the Wildcat pitching staff. Gio, who transferred from Wabash Valley Community College was named to the Junior College National Team and competed this summer in the American JUCO tournament. Seniors Bretton Hazelwood and Austin Elrod, sophomore Brandon Degnagard along with newcomer Junior Danny Lara look to compete for weekend starting roles. Seniors Billy Price and Ryan Robertson both excelled last season out of the bullpen and will be looked to help hold down the middle innings of games. Additionally, newcomers freshman Andrew Threatt and junior Antonio Costas will provide quality arms in the backend of games. Costas held the closer role at Vol State and his experience will provide a solid anchor for the Wildcat pitching staff.
Junior Randy Guevarez and sophomore Jacob Foster return behind the plate after splitting time last year. In addition, junior Chandler Harmon returns to add depth and compete for playing time in multiple positions. New faces in juniors Nick Proto and Ethan Stallings are also very talented student-athletes. Proto is a big bat who looks to be a run producer while possibly playing varies positions.
Senior Austin Brenner and junior Jack Surber are the two returning starters on the infield. Both players look to make major contributions for the Wildcats this season. Returners, sophomore Luke Patterson and junior Deonte House look to provide quality depth and make a push for playing time. Senior Sebastian Cortes looks to compete for the starting shortstop position as a newcomer for the Cats. Junior Ruber Medina is another new player who looks to be a major contributor at third base. Junior Issac Pender, freshman Logan Beecham, and sophomore Juan Torres all look to battle for playing time for multiple positions as all are competitive and can add to the high level of play for the 2019 season. All are new players as part of the outstanding recruiting class.
Returning senior and starter Lucas Riddick looks to anchor the outfield. Riddick led the Wildcats in most offensive categories last season and was also named to the All-Conference 2nd Team. Newcomer Baylor Stillman looks to add a great deal of speed and athletism to the outfield and have an immediate offensive impact as a junior. Returners, senior Brad Gill and sophomore Logan Talley as are expected to make major offensive and defensive contributions to the upcoming season. Sophomore Noah Miller and junior Colby Carey are both exciting players who look to make major strides for the Wildcats this season.
Bethel was 27-22 overall last year and finished 13-11 in the SSAC. The Bat Cats open the season February 1 with a four-game home set against Columbia College. The Wildcats play 20 of their first 21 games at home this year. It will be a new look to Wildcat Park with the installation of lights. Times for all games will be posted on the Bethel athletic website at www.bethelathletics.com.
Coach Thompson commented, “We are very excited about the upcoming season with plenty of challenges. Obviously our conference schedule is tough but our out of conference schedule is scattered with ranked opponents as well. We have one of the toughest schedules in the country, we expect it to be challenging and look forward to it. It’s always a great feeling to know each week you’re facing a tough opponent and as a competitor you wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”