WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Merrill Bevan, a Whitman College baseball player from Bellingham, Wash., has received all-Northwest Conference (NWC) honorable mention recognition in a season-ending vote of coaches.
Bevan, a senior co-captain for the Missionaries, was honored as a third baseman, where he saw most of his playing time this spring.
He was one of Whitman's top hitters, collecting 44 hits in 133 plate appearances for a .331 batting average. He led Whitman with 28 RBI while scoring 19 runs and stroking 10 doubles and a home run.
At season's end, Bevan also received a Whitman team award as its Most Valuable Player on Offense.
After playing at Bellingham's Sehome High School, Bevan made an immediate impact in his freshman season at Whitman, hitting .315 against conference opponents. A three-year starter for the Missionaries, Bevan did not play as a junior because he was studying off campus in China and Washington, D.C.
"Merrill gave us a great deal of leadership this season that was lacking when he was away from campus last year on foreign study," Whitman coach Travis Feezell said. "He really took our infield to another level. He has great hands and was a solid defensive player for us. He also was a perfect No. 2 hitter who could bunt, hit and run, and do just about everything with a bat."
Other Whitman team awards were earned this year by Jimmy Hill, Most Valuable Pitcher; Adam Zaitz, Most Valuable Defensive Player; and Travis Lovejoy and Rhyan Kyle, Mr. Intangible Awards. "Mr. Intangible is one of those awards that goes to players who contribute to the team in major ways without getting one of the other awards," Feezell said.
Hill, a junior righthander, started his season with a one-hit, 10-strikeout victory over the University of Puget Sound and finished it with another complete-game victory over Lewis & Clark College. In between, he suffered a number of hard-luck one-run losses, one of which was a 1-0 decision to conference-leading Linfield College.
Hill, a starting guard on Whitman's basketball team, played previously at Yakima Valley (Wash.) Community College and Kittitas (Wash.) High School.
Hill anchored the Whitman pitching staff along with another junior righthander, Chris Garratt, who played his prep ball at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash. In his final outing of the season, Garratt helped Whitman sweep three games from Lewis & Clark College by striking out nine and scattering six hits and one run over nine innings in a 6-1 victory. Earlier in the season, Garratt notched a two-hit, eight-inning triumph over Pacific Lutheran University to earn Pitcher of the Week honors in the Northwest Conference.
Zaitz, a freshman from Brier, Wash., took over the regular catching duties in his first season at Whitman. "One of the best compliments a catcher can receive is that no one notices him," Feezell said. "Well, we rarely noticed Adam because he handles the ball well, frames pitches well, and blocks pitches in the dirt well. He's definitely the best defensive catcher we've had in my three seasons at Whitman. He also handles the pitchers extremely well."
Zaitz (Inglemoor HS, Bothell WA) hit .290 on the season with three home runs, two triples and six doubles. Two of his round-trippers came in one afternoon when he homered in both games of a doubleheader. He scored 21 runs and knocked in 17 more.
Lovejoy, a sophomore outfielder who played previously at North Idaho Community College and Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) High School, is one of those "absolutely steady players who goes out and does his job everyday." Lovejoy, who earned more playing time as his first Whitman season progressed, eventually finished with a team-leading .343 batting average. He rapped 24 hits, including one home run, in 70 at-bats. He also led the team with eight stolen bases.
Kyle, a backup catcher from Bellevue (Wash.) High School, saw limited playing time in his sophomore season. "Rhyan caught relief pitchers in the bullpen all season, and he never complained once," Feezell said.
Other hitting leaders for Whitman this season included Kyle Carothers, a freshman from Oak Harbor (Wash.) High School, who hit an even .300 and led the team in home runs with four and doubles with 11. He was second in runs scored with 26 and RBI with 25.
Two other freshmen who had good years at the plate were Matt Brewer, a shortstop from Eastlake High School in Redmond, Wash., and Ryan Toivola, a first baseman/pitcher from Seattle who played at Bothell's Inglemoor High School. Brewer hit .290 with seven doubles and two home runs. Toivola, who swiped seven bases in nine attempts, hit .283 with a home run and a team-leading 28 runs scored.
In his final two pitching starts of the season, Toivola hurled nine-inning victories over California State University-Hayward and Lewis & Clark College. Toivola posted 14 strikeouts in the two games and was touched for just four earned runs, three of which were tallied in his final inning of work against Lewis & Clark.
In his second season at Whitman, Bobby Jones, a sophomore infielder from Bonney Lake, Wash. who played at Seattle's Eastside Catholic High School, hit .293 with 25 runs scored, 20 RBI, eight doubles and a home run.
Ben McPherren, a centerfielder and senior co-captain from Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, finished among team leaders in runs scored with 24 and extra-base hits with two home runs, two triples and seven doubles.
Sophomore reserves Chris Zintel (Issaquah HS, Issaquah WA) and Andy Tillo (Capital HS, Helena, MT) hit .294 and .274, respectively. Both players ripped a home run during the season. Tillo also stole six bases in six attempts.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, (509) 527-5902