L&C Baseball Program Logs Blockbuster Season
In 2023, L&C’s baseball team won its first Northwest Conference Championship since 1987 and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. In addition, third baseman Jack Thomson BA ’23 was named D3baseball.com National Player of the Year and a First Team All-American.
For the first time in program history, Lewis & Clark baseball can lay claim to having the best player in the nation. On May 31, senior third baseman Jack Thomson was named the D3baseball.com National Player of the Year. He is the first player in program history to receive this honor and only the second First Team All-American in the L&C baseball annals.
Thomson, a fifth-year senior psychology major, put together one of the top seasons ever for an individual player, all while helping lead the team to one of its best seasons ever. This spring, Thomson rewrote the program record books with the most home runs (23), runs scored (71), walks (50), and hit by pitches (21) in a single season. With his 0.51 home runs per game, he finished first among all NCAA Division III players.
“I had a pretty good feeling about Jack from the start,” baseball head coach Matt Kosderka said. “We threw him right into the fire as a first-year player, and there were some rough spots. But I had a lot of confidence that he would battle through and become a great player. Then, during COVID, he took his work ethic to a whole new level. He became a true force as a player and as a leader.”
Over the course of his five-year career, Thomson set over a dozen career and single-season records, including the career record for games played (166), home runs (49), doubles (52), and runs scored (193). In his final two years alone, Thomson was named the Northwest Conference Player of the Year twice, the Region X Position Player of the Year twice, and an All-American by both the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and D3baseball.com for both seasons.
“From the beginning, Jack has pushed himself to be the absolute best that he can be,” Kosderka noted. “Those efforts—along with those of others on the team—helped everyone raise the bar, and that has been a key to our program’s recent success. Also, in addition to his amazing performance on the field, Jack has been able to look past his own performance the past two seasons to provide extremely valuable team leadership. He’s helped us overcome adversity and pull through in games despite great odds.”
Thomson’s individual success has coincided with the team’s rise. In 2022, the baseball team posted their first winning record and their first 20-win season (20-17) since 1995. This year’s team continued that momentum to put together a milestone season.
Lewis & Clark tied the single-season records for wins (31-14) and conference wins (15-9) while posting the fourth-best winning percentage (.689) in school history. Led by Kosderka, who was named Northwest Conference Coach of the Year, Lewis & Clark capitalized on a late surge to finish second in the Northwest Conference (NWC) regular season standings and earn their first-ever trip to the NWC Conference Tournament. After splitting their first two games of the tournament, Lewis & Clark won three straight games, including sweeping top-seeded Pacific University, to win their first NWC Championship since 1987.
The Pioneers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time (the program was part of the NAIA until 1998) and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, for the NCAA Regionals. In their first-ever NCAA Tournament game, Lewis & Clark defeated the seventh-ranked team in the nation, host Birmingham-Southern College, for their first NCAA Tournament win and first win over a nationally ranked squad since April 13, 2008.
“This season was nothing short of amazing,” Kosderka said. “While we had gone through some tough seasons early in my time at L&C, we always talked to our guys about being the start of something great. Seeing that become a reality over the past two seasons brings so much validation to not only our current players, but also to all of those guys who fought the good fight, even when things didn’t go our way on the scoreboard.
“We always play for each other, but we also want to always make sure that our efforts are worthy of all the support we receive from our alums and fans in the Pio Nation. I hope they all take as much pride in our success as we do.”
While Thomson graduated this spring and will be playing his final season at Division I University of Portland, the future is bright for L&C’s baseball program. Sophomore Brennen Davis and junior Jakob Ghammachi each earned All-Region honors this spring, and six of the team’s seven All-Conference honorees (Luke Bass, Anthony Clerici, Davis, Will Heron, Ghammachi and Luke Ritter) are expected to return for the 2024 season. The team will also be playing on a brand-new playing surface next spring. This summer, the Huston Sports Complex will be renovated, with both the baseball and softball fields dirt-and-grass fields being replaced by turf.