If there were any doubts about Bradey Shipley's athletic abilities, the former North Medford High standout put them to rest last season as a freshman at the University of Nevada when he stepped in to fill a void at shortstop for the baseball team.

If there were any doubts about Bradey Shipley's athletic abilities, the former North Medford High standout put them to rest last season as a freshman at the University of Nevada when he stepped in to fill a void at shortstop for the baseball team.

Given a chance this season to do what the Wolfpack originally brought him in to do, Shipley again has not disappointed and highlights what has been a strong start in colleges across the country for Rogue Valley baseball products. From Shipley's former Black Tornado teammate Matt Maurer (Pepperdine) to Phoenix's Jordan Lewis (Houston) or Ashland's Max Gordon (Oregon State), and several places in between, it's been a good spring thus far for the local boys.

"He's just a great kid and I'm just really happy that he's in our program," Nevada head coach Gary Powers said Thursday of Shipley. "He's a coach's kind of player. I really like him because he comes to work every day with great personality, great competitive spirit and he's also a great teammate."

It's that latter aspect that Shipley excelled in last year for the Wolfpack, which plays in the Division I Western Athletic Conference. Originally recruited as a pitcher, Shipley suddenly found himself at shortstop within a couple weeks of his freshman campaign.

"His freshman year we had a situation where we just weren't satisfied with what we were getting there at shortstop and he's just such a tremendous athlete that we thought we'd try him there," said Powers.

What ensued was a steady season that earned Shipley second-team All-WAC recognition as an infielder who hit .287 and more than held his own on the defensive end of the high-profile position.

"He became so valuable last year for us in that position, we just had nobody else who really could play the position the way he could," said Powers. "We took him out of the role we brought him in for — and it worked out — but we didn't feel good about it so we recruited a shortstop this year just so he could get a chance to go back there on the mound."

Whatever splash Shipley made at shortstop a year ago seems only like a ripple these days given his pitching exploits thus far in his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-hander takes a 4-1 record and 2.25 ERA into today's home game against Loyola Marymount. He's tied for second in the WAC for wins, is the conference leader in opponent's batting average (.167) and ranks sixth in ERA and seventh in strikeouts (28 in 28 innings pitched).

"He's done a great job for us and he's been very, very consistent for us," said Powers, whose team is 10-9 overall. "He's kinda really taken on the most important role of our starting pitching and that's the Friday night guy who kinda sets the tone. He told me at the end of last year that's the position he wanted and I told him he had to earn that and he's gone out and done that."

Shipley's early success really is no surprise to Powers, who struggled with the decision to pull the dual-threat talent away from his pitcher's role in 2011.

"I felt bad for him because I thought he lost pretty much his whole freshman year where he could've developed as a pitcher," said the 30th-year head coach, "but to his credit he went out and got some experience in the summer and he's outworked everybody in that position this year. In a short time frame, he's really gotten it going."

Powers said Shipley is perfectly suited to be a pitcher given his arm speed and "electric stuff" that often freezes batters.

"He's developed an unbelievable changeup he throws with the same arm speed as his fastball so it's a very effective pitch, and he's a three-pitch guy with a breaking ball that's consistently around the strike zone," said Powers. "He's not the kind of guy that somebody can just sit on one pitch because he can throw all three at any time. His future, as long as he stays healthy, is on the mound because he has what they're looking for at the next level. He has a good ceiling with a fresh arm that throws in the low 90s."

Like everyone on his team, Powers said Shipley just needs to work on his consistency and ability to get deeper into ballgames. Right now he's getting to the sixth or seventh inning, often getting caught up in higher pitch counts because he has such good movement on his pitches. Powers said Shipley's darting efforts often are fooling batters, who don't swing, and that's allowed more opportunity for the ball to dip out of the strike zone by the time it reaches the catcher.

"He's got such electric stuff, that just happens sometimes," said the coach.

Similar praise could be handed out to left-handed pitchers Maurer and Lewis, who have also been dominant for their respective schools.

Maurer, a 6-2, 220-pound sophomore, pushed his record to 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA on Tuesday when he shut out Long Beach State over six innings during Pepperdine's 12-2 victory. The Division I Waves (16-5) open a three-game series with Texas A&M today. Teams are hitting .232 against Maurer, who has allowed only 19 hits in 231/3 innings to go with 14 strikeouts and nine walks.

In Lewis' senior season at Houston, he's already picked up a pair of impressive wins en route to a 3-2 record with a 3.81 ERA. The 5-11, 200-pounder went six strong innings on March 3 to lead the Cougars to a 4-1 win over Arkansas at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, and went seven innings to help Houston gain its first road win of the season with an 8-1 triumph at Oklahoma State on March 17. Lewis will return to the mound this weekend when Houston (9-10) plays a three-game series at Southern Miss.

Gordon has been batting in the leadoff position and playing center field for the Beavers (14-5) and is hitting .281 with nine runs and four RBIs in 12 games thus far.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry