WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Three juniors and one sophomore from the Whitman College baseball team have earned honorable mention recognition on the All-Northwest Conference team.
The juniors are outfielder Kyle Carothers, Whitman's leading hitter this season; starting pitcher Ryan Toivola, who led the Missionaries in victories for a second straight season; and Adam Zaitz, a skilled defensive catcher who hit .291, his third consecutive season at or above the .290 mark.
Whitman's sophomore representative on the all-conference team is infielder Blake Fisher, who led the Missionaries in runs scored and finished second to Carothers in batting average, total hits and on-base percentage (Fisher and Carothers tied for the team lead in walks with 18 each).
"I am pleased that we have four players honored this season, more than I can ever remember," Whitman coach Travis Feezell said. "All four had very solid seasons and I'm quite proud of them. It speaks well for our program that other coaches in the conference recognize their talents and achievements. The best point is that we bring all four of them back next season, when we'll also welcome back Bobby Jones, an all-conference player from two seasons ago."
Carothers, who plays right field and bats left-handed, hit .342 this past spring, topping the Missionaries in total hits (40), runs batted in (30), total bases (64), slugging percentage (.547) and on-base percentage (.446). He tied Zaitz for the team lead in home runs with four, while he and a second teammate (Ryan Nelson) tied for the most doubles (10).
Carothers, a graduate of Oak Harbor (Wash.) High School, twice earned "Hitter of the Week" honors in the Northwest Conference. His first honor came in late March, after he went seven for 13 at the plate in three games against Puget Sound, slugging two home runs, knocking in seven runs, and scoring five himself. Two weeks later, in three games against Lewis & Clark, Carothers had six hits, including a triple and double, in collecting eight RBI.
Zaitz and Toivola, who played prep ball together at Inglemoor High School in Bothell, Wash., were named to the all-conference team for the second time in two seasons.
Zaitz, who earned first-team honors last year, posted remarkably similar offensive and defensive numbers this past spring. Not only did he hit .291, a single point above his batting average as a sophomore and freshmen, he committed just three errors behind the plate for a second straight season and threw out 15 runners attempting to steal, one less than last year.
Zaitz, who missed the first week of the season due to a broken hand, hit .308 in Whitman's 23 conference games. He was second on the team in runs scored, total bases, and slugging percentage. In addition to his four home runs, he ripped five doubles and a triple.
Toivola, a 6-foot-3 left-hander, started 10 games for the Missionaries and won five of nine decisions for a second straight season. He led Whitman s pitching staff in victories, earned run average (4.48), complete games (six), innings pitched (74) and strikeouts (48). He was fourth in the NWC in innings pitched, and he ranked among the league leaders in strikeouts and victories.
When not pitching, Toivola played first base and hit .250 on the season in 64 at- bats.
Fisher hit .304 on the season with four doubles, one triple and one home run. He was Whitman s leading hitter against NWC opponents, ripping conference pitchers at a .347 clip. His on-base percentage in conference play was a team-high .462 percent.
Fisher, a graduate of Seattle s Blanchet High School, has now hit .300 in each of his first two collegiate seasons. He hit .310 last spring as a freshman.