SPOKANE — The good thing about NCAA Division III is that there is no national letter of intent. With no signature of commitment on the dotted line, a guy is free to change his mind.
That’s exactly what Big Bend Community College right-hander Tyson Yamane did. His original plan was to continue his career at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. But he made a late decision, choosing to play his baseball a little closer to home in the Northwest Conference for Whitworth University in Spokane.
“I have a really good relationship with the coach (CJ Perry) and it just felt like the best fit for me,” said Yamane, who intends to major in marketing. “It wasn’t about being too far away from home going to Iowa. Whitworth was just a better gut feeling. I’m familiar with the Spokane area, it’s close to home so people can come out and watch me play.”
Whitworth is a good program. Pirates right-hander Hugh Smith was selected in the sixth round of the Major League Draft by the Detroit Tigers, becoming the fifth player in school history to be drafted.
“Tyson had a dozen different schools interested in him,” Big Bend head coach Jameson Lange said. “He’s not a big-arm guy, but his mental makeup and his ability to compete and get the strikeout when he needs gives him great credibility when everybody’s looking for velocity.
“The thing that makes him a great recruit is that he’s a 3.9 GPA student in the classroom.”
Yamane is just a three-pitch guy, but he gets a lot of mileage out of his fastball, curveball and a change-up. He does work a slider in the mix.
“I have confidence in my ability and nobody’s going to outwork me. At this point, everybody’s good at what they do, so I hope to add another level of intensity to the group,” Yamane said. “I’m more of a pitch to contact guy. I like to work inside. I was more of a outside corner guy in high school, but at Big Bend we really pounded the inside half and tried to get weak contact.
“The NWAC is a wood bat league, so it’s going to be a lot different pitching to metal (bats). I’m not going to get away with as many mistakes and you have to be really careful pitching inside to guys that can turn on it.”
It’s another level change. He was able to make the jump and turn a 1A baseball career into an NWAC All-East selection at Big Bend. Now he’s going against bigger, stronger hitters in NCAA Division III. The question now is, what do you take from the Big Bend experience that you can use down the road?
“I would think understanding who I am as a player and not trying to change that, but make minor improvements is the biggest thing,” Yamane said. “The Big Bend coaching staff taught me to embrace who I am. I’m not a flamethrower, but I have the ability to gain a couple of miles an hour here.
“I’ll embrace who I am as a pitcher, as a player, and as a person. I’ll apply that to the field and the classroom as well.”