Seattle University Coaches Press on Recruiting Efforts

Alec Downing

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Baseball

Seattle University Baseball Head Coach Donny Harrell is still crunching the numbers on all of the potential scenarios he and his staff may find themselves in once their season closes following the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament.

The team will lose at least seven players due to graduation and could potentially lose more players if any rising juniors, who are now MLB draft eligible, are in fact drafted and sign with an MLB team. Seattle U has nine eligible players—it is highly unlikely that all of them will be drafted, but it is not out of the question for many of them.

In addition to contending with the already large, and potentially growing exodus of talent, baseball faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to recruiting. The MLB allows players to be drafted directly out of high school, so recruits may commit to a college but ultimately decide to head straight to the farm system of a major league team if they are drafted.

Despite these obstacles, Harrell has assembled a strong class of recruits to fill the needs of his team.

“It makes it nerve-wracking to an extent, but it also speaks to how good the program is doing at this point when that’s the reason you could be losing guys,” Harrell said.

Harrell’s recruiting class is large, currently standing at 10, but due to the aforementioned potential for high schoolers to be drafted, it is subject to change in the coming months.

Golf

The already-young men’s golf team will welcome two new recruits: Nathan Cogswell of Renton, Washington and Jack Rahon of Orange, Calif.

“They are both very competitive, they both work really hard and have aspirations to play professionally once they graduate,” Marc Chandonnet said, Head Coach of both the men’s and women’s golf programs.

With senior Joe Harvie graduating and moving on to pursue a pro career, the men’s team is losing only one player—but one of their best at that.

In order to fill the void left by Harvie’s departure, Chandonnet expects his new recruits to contribute from the start. Additionally, he anticipates rising sophomores Zack Overstreet and Greg Gionfriddo to step into leadership roles next season as they become upperclassmen.

All of the women’s golf team will return next season in which they will look to follow up their impressive WAC performance this year, where they placed third. There are no current seniors on the women’s team and thus the roster will likely remain the same going into next year.

As of now, Chandonnet has no incoming recruits for the women’s team, though he has not completely ruled it out.

“I am still working diligently with that process, so there’s potential.”

Softball

With seven graduating seniors, Seattle U’s Softball Head Coach Geoff Hirai is still in the process of adding to his current recruiting class. Hirai is looking to build around his current core of players, as eight of the players in his starting lineup will return next year.

With two of the team’s three catchers graduating, Hirai is adding two new catchers: Grace Dudden of Norco, Calif. and Kallahan Hunter of Temecula, Calif. In addition, he is bringing in Outfielders Mekenzie Madokoro of Long Beach, Calif. and Olivia Viggiano of Mission Viejo, Calif.

The team is still lacking a replacement for senior starting shortstop Maddy Kristjanson, who Hirai described as “Someone you can’t replace.”

“I’ve been in this game for 13 years and coached at the highest level and she’s one of the best shortstops I’ve ever coached,” Hirai said.

Nonetheless, over the last week, Hirai scouted the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Softball Championship in St. George, Utah, with the specific intent of finding a middle infielder to fill the hole left by Kristjanson’s departure.

Referring to the new class, Hirai expressed his expectations for the incoming freshmen.

“They’ve got to come in and believe that they belong,” Hirai said. “If they do that we’ll be just fine.”

Track & Field

While his athletes have broken school records meet after meet, track and field Head Coach Kelly Sullivan and his staff broke a record of their own, bringing in the largest recruiting class the University has ever seen at 27 athletes.

This feat is even more impressive considering Sullivan was only hired as head coach in August and did not begin recruiting until late September.

Track and field will lose 15 seniors, but with the incoming class of 27, Sullivan has grown the program significantly as he prepares for just his second year as head coach.

“We really wanted to encompass all the event areas and we accomplished that,” Sullivan said. “We’re bringing in sprinters, we’re bringing in hurdlers, we’re bringing in jumpers, we’re bringing in a really good young group of throwers, relay people and middle distance and distance.”

Sullivan directed the credit for the immensely successful recruiting onto his assistant coaches Chad Pharis, Tyler King and Mat Strum, as well as the university as a whole.

“I’m hoping people across campus will look at the numbers and take a lot of credit for it also because we can only sell ourselves so much, when you recruit you are selling the whole product and Seattle University does a great job of doing that.”

Sullivan and his staff have already begun recruiting for next year’s class.

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