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  • Ernie Samora, Staff Writer

Joyner nears saves record, secures Ute transfer as ‘Basecats’ head to conference tournament

Updated: May 4

Photo courtesy of Brady Joyner.

In the realm of collegiate baseball, records aren't merely numbers; they are the echoes of dedication, passion and relentless pursuit of excellence. Meet Brady Joyner (‘24), a name synonymous with the artistry of closing pitchers. As the ‘Cats head to their final series before the conference tournament, Joyner stands tied for the career saves record at Willamette. In the fall, he will depart for the DI University of Utah.

A save is awarded to a closing pitcher who enters the game with a lead of three or less and secures the team’s victory. Joyner is currently tied with Mike Corey’s (‘98) 1998 career saves record, with 23 in his time at Willamette. In 2023, Joyner also matched Chris Hopton's and Corey's individual season saves records from 1993 and 1994, respectively, with 10 saves of his own. Joyner still has a few weeks to earn another save and beat the career record.

With the conference tournament looming on the horizon, Joyner and the Bearcats are bracing for this weekend’s showdown against the Whitman Blues, who currently hold first in the conference. At second in the conference, Willamette will need to win every game in the upcoming series in order to host the conference tournament. 

“[The record] would mean the world to me,” Joyner said. As a closer, he has been steadily improving his pitch for four years. “[My motivation is] being the best player I can be,” he said. The save record would be a testament to how far he has come as a pitcher. 

Despite his success at Willamette, Joyner wasn't always sure he wanted to pursue collegiate baseball. When applying for schools, he wasn’t looking for any baseball programs until Willamette reached out with an offer. Now he's pitching a whopping 93.8 miles per hour. 

Photo courtesy of Brady Joyner.

Joyner began his baseball career at five years old. Throughout his career, Joyner has played as a pitcher and a hitter. Once he got to Willamette, his focus shifted solely to pitching. This increased focus brought weight training three times a week and summers dedicated to refining his pitch. But for Joyner, the significance of the mound transcends just physical training; it's a sanctuary. “The mound is my favorite place to be,” he said. “How can you not be a romantic about baseball?” 

Joyner approaches each pitch with a winner’s mindset — he is determined to not let anyone beat him. The field becomes a battlefield between Joyner and the batter. “The rest of the world disappears when I’m on the mound,” he said. Approaching each play with the confidence that he is better than the batter is crucial in securing a victory.

In the fall, Joyner is transferring to the University of Utah, a DI Big-12 university, where he can continue playing baseball while pursuing a Master of Science in International Affairs & Global Enterprise. A DI school offers a myriad of resources and tougher competition, which Joyner plans to take full advantage of in order to improve his game. Fueled by his passion, Joyner stated he plans to “play until someone says I can’t play anymore.” The move also brings Joyner closer to his family. 

As the Willamette Bearcats gear up for this pivotal weekend, all eyes are on Joyner and his bid to secure the saves record. His journey from modest T-ball beginnings to becoming a cornerstone of Willamette's baseball legacy is a testament to the power of perseverance and dedication. Reflecting on his journey, he admitted, “I couldn’t have done it without my friends and family.” 

The Bearcats take on Whitman in a doubleheader this weekend. Saturday’s Senior Night games scheduled for noon and 3:00 p.m. Sunday's game also begins at noon.

Update: Saturday's games have been delayed due to weather. The games will be played at 12 and 3 p.m. Sunday. The senior celebration proceeded as planned.

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