by Nicholas Williams
On Friday, Nov. 16, senior Devin Bear signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Northwestern State University, located Nachitoches, La.
The NSU Demons participate in the Southland Conference, whose other members include Oral Roberts and Stephen F. Austin University.
Bear is a two-year letterman, but has seen little action last two seasons.
“Unfortunately for Devin, we’ve had guys like Brian Schwarzbach and Austin Fairchild who were leading the pitching a little bit more,” Athletic Director Mike Netzel said. “So he has pitched more in relief for us the past few years.”
Coming in as a relief pitcher, Bear earned increased playing time his junior year. He pitched fourteen innings in seven appearances. Although his 4.30 earned run average (ERA) was mediocre, he averaged 1.5 strikeouts per inning.
“A lot of colleges now depend on the summer to see the guys play,” Netzel said. “They play [their own games] in the spring when we are playing, so they do not get to get out and see a lot of our guys pitch that often.”
Bear impressed college scouts this past summer, when he played in several tournaments and showcases with his Kyle Chapman select team in locations around the country such as Atlanta, Ga. and Dallas, Texas.
“This summer really impacted my game as a whole,” Bear said. “It gave me a great opportunity to show colleges my talent and impress them.”
Bear received interest from Texas Tech, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Sam Houston State, but settled on the Demons.
“I chose Northwestern State because I was already familiar with the area,” Bear said. “I was comfortable with the situation and the new coaching staff.”
This comfort with the program stems from his older brother, Colin, ’08, who played for the Demons and graduated from the school this past year.
With another athlete receiving a scholarship to play at the collegiate level, the total is now 22 in the last year and a half for the school, and the fourth from the baseball program.
“Bear signing is a continuation of the trend we have been building here for the past three or four years,” Netzel said. “It’s the beginning of a new year and Bear is the first to sign.
“The dominoes are about to fall.”
A trend is certainly building; there have been 59 college athletes during Netzel’s four year tenure.
In the four years before Netzel’s arrival as athletic director, there were only 42 graduates who went on to compete in college.
“Our guys are more attractive to colleges because our programs have been so good in the past four or five years,” Netzel said. “They want guys who not only have skill but also a winning mentality.”