Sports

McFeely, Beavers ready for World Series run

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Oregon State University seems to be agreeing with Shea McFeely. And why wouldn’t it?

The 2002 Federal Way High School graduate has been a huge part of the best baseball season in Oregon State history.

The Beavers finished the regular season with a 41-9 record and won the school’s first Pac-10 championship since 1952. The 41 wins is a school record and OSU is currently the second-ranked team in America heading into this weekend’s 64-team NCAA baseball championships.

McFeely, a junior third baseman, is in his second season at Oregon State after spending a year at Tacoma Community College. While at OSU, McFeely has played in every one of the Beavers’ 103 games over the last two years — starting 101 of them. He has a combined batting average of .309 with 112 total hits and has connected on nine home runs and driven in 71.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” said Oregon State head coach Pat Casey. “Defensively, he’s really come on strong. He’s been playing third base for us everyday. He gives us a lot of consistency down there.”

The Beavers’ postseason run to a possible College World Series berth kicked off yesterday in a four-team regional on their home field — Goss Stadium at Coleman Field. Oregon State found out Sunday afternoon that the school would be playing host to the Corvallis Regional, which is a rarity in the Pacific Northwest.

“This is great news for everyone involved with Oregon State baseball,” Casey said. “For our team, our staff, and especially our fans because they’re going to be able to watch us play in the postseason. They’ve given us a tremendous homefield advantage this season, and the level of support they’ve given us is a big reason that we’ll be able to play at home.”

The double-elimination regional could run through Monday and includes Ohio State (39-18, 17-12 Big Ten), St. John’s (39-16, 19-4 Big East) and Virginia (41-18, 14-14 Atlantic Coast), along with Oregon State.

The Beavers are the clear favorite. The Pac-10 champions were ranked second nationally in this week’s Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches poll, by Baseball America magazine and in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, and third by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Ohio State, St. John’s and Virginia are all unranked.

The winner of this weekend’s Corvallis regional will play the winner of the Long Beach region, which includes Long Beach State, USC, Pepperdine and Rhode Island in a best-of-three Super Regional, June 10-13. The winner of the Super Regional will advance to the eight-team College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.

“They are as good as anybody we play, ever, anywhere,” USC head coach Mike Gillespie said about the Beavers. “They are a great team. They are an Omaha team. My hat is off to Pat Casey and (associate head coach) Dan Spencer, who has been with him through thick and thin. I don’t see a flaw in that team.”

There hasn’t been many flaws in McFeely’s play either. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has developed into a silent leader for the Beavers.

“He’s a pretty quiet guy,” said outfielder Geoff Wagner in the Oregon State Daily Barometer. “He doesn’t say much in the clubhouse, he leads by example. I think his performance on the field speaks for itself.”

This year, McFeely finished the regular season fifth on the Beavers with a .324 average in 49 starts. He also had 12 doubles, four home runs, 33 RBIs and scored 42 runs. The numbers are pretty similar to last year’s, when he hit .294 with 42 runs, 38 RBIs, 14 doubles and five home runs.

McFeely first caught the attention of the Oregon State coaching staff while in high school. But he wasn’t the first player on their list during their recruiting visits to Federal Way back in 2002.

Their original target was talented Eagle first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who the Beavers recruited and signed. But Ishikawa got an offer he couldn’t refuse from the San Francisco Giants and turned pro before stepping on the Oregon State campus.

After a one-year detour to Tacoma Community College, the Beavers won a recruiting battle for McFeely that included schools like Gonzaga, North Carolina State, Clemson and Washington State.

While at TCC, McFeely dominated the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. He hit a robust .441, with 25 extra-base hits and 48 RBIs and was named the conference and league Most Valuable Player.

“I chose OSU for its baseball program, to play in the Pac-10 and because it’s close enough to home for my family to watch,” McFeely said.

McFeely isn’t the only local connection on the Oregon State roster. Associate head coach Dan Spencer spent five seasons at the helm of the Green River Community College baseball program from 1992 to ‘96. Spencer’s GRCC teams were a combined 135-79 and included several Federal Way school district players. The Gators reached the NWAACC Tournament all five seasons under Spencer.

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