Pilots baseball signs 'salty' Woodley
Parker Woodley impressed the University of Portland baseball coaches at a showcase last fall. They didnt offer him a spot on the team, but they kept tabs on the Canby High alumnus.
This spring, Pilots hitting coach Jake Valentine watched Woodley blast a home run over the center-field fence in a game between Clark College and Mt. Hood Community College. Then, when first-year Portland head coach Geoff Loomis scouted him, Woodley rounded the bases in his first plate appearance again.
Woodley recently signed a letter-of-intent to join the West Coast Conference Portland squad.
Even though Woodley has bounced around without putting together a complete season of outstanding baseball at the collegiate level, the Pilots believe in his skills, potential and mentality.
Hes an extremely athletic kid, he can play multiple positions, his bat will help our offense, Valentine says. Hes coming in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. That fits the personality of our coaching staff. Were a salty group, and hes a salty player.
After graduating from Canby High in 2014, Woodley played one season at Western Nevada College. The experience did not go as he expected. Woodley batted .125 in 40 plate appearances, and the coaching staff told him he should transfer schools if he wanted to continue playing.
It was disappointing at the time, but looking back at it, it was probably the best thing that could happen to me, Woodley says. It all turned out for the better.
Woodley went to Clark and earned ample opportunities to prove his worth.
He did not miss an inning as a sophomore, accumulating 152 at-bats and playing right field.
While leading the team with four home runs and 30 RBIs, Woodley batted .296.
His confidence soared.
Last year, when I got in the box, I had the feeling like I had to compete with the pitcher just to hit it. This year, stepping in the box, I want to beat the pitcher and I feel like Im better than the pitcher so I should hit the ball hard and I should produce against them, Woodley says.
Watching Woodleys home run was cool, but Valentine was most enamored with the future Pilots aggressive approach at the plate.
The biggest thing is he swings with a lot of intent, Valentine says. Hes looking to drive the ball every time he swings. We needed more of that personality on the team. Hes going to be a really good fit for us.
Valentine says Woodley probably will hit in the middle of the Pilots' batting order as a primary run producer and is likely to play right field and first base.
Woodley hopes to develop opposite-field power and improve his consistency next year. While he hit .323 in nonconference play for Clark, he batted .276 against league opponents.
I couldnt pinpoint what it was. I thought I might have been more relaxed in nonconference," he says. "If I could develop that mindset for the entire season, letting the game come to me, that would help me out a lot.
Valentine says he will teach Woodley to develop a fluid rhythm in his swing and to adjust to off-speed pitches more effectively.
The Pilots finished 3-24 in the WCC last season. Valentine and the Pilot coaching staff is betting Woodley can help the program move up in the league hierarchy.
"Hes a really good kid who you can tell has been brought up the right way. Hes very respectful, wants to win, and thats his goal, Valentine says. Were looking to flip a program and want to compete for a WCC championship every year. That starts with guys who want to do the same thing.
For Woodley, the signing with UP turned a dream into a reality.
It felt really good and fulfilled my dream of playing Division-I baseball, he says. Now I just have to continue to grind and get better.