Original article written by Larry Read.
Just days after learning that Brian Anderson had taken a job with NCAA Div I Northwestern University (Illinois), The NorthPaws have named Keith Francis as the third head coach in the teams history.
Francis and Anderson have been working with the Pima Community College Aztecs (National Junior College Athletics Association) in Arizona. Both were looking to come north to Kamloops for the Westcoast League season in early June. Francis had committed to being Anderson’s assistant. He was Anderson’s coach in high school.
“I am looking forward to the coming season,” he says. “My teams are aggressive and play the right way. I never play the other team. If you play the game and play the right way, usually good things come your way. It’s my intent for the NorthPaws to play that way too.”
Francis is currently the assistant coach with Pima. A number of the players on Aztecs roster had been recruited by Anderson to play this summer for the NorthPaws already.
“It will make the job easier (familiarity with the players),” he says. “I will continue to implement a lot of things that we have here. I know those players’ strong points and weak points. We have a couple of pitchers coming up which will be very important. “
The newest NorthPaws skipper has a solid baseball background. His resume includes coaching at Maple Woods Community College (1997-1998), third place in the 1998 Junior College World Series at Grand Junction, CO. Canyon del Oro High School (2000), Assistant Coach, CDO won the 5A State Championship. Canyon del Oro High School (2001-2004), Head Coach, CDO won the 5A State Championship in 2002. Pima Community College (2005-2006), Assistant Coach.
In addition, he was an assistant coach at the University of Arizona (2007-2010) where they made Regionals three of the four years and made it to the Super Regionals in 2008 where they lost to the University of Miami.
“We are going to approach the West Coast League aggressively,” Francis adds. “We will steal a lot of bases, do a lot of hit and runs. That is West Coast baseball. That is the way we will play.”
Francis is looking forward to coaching players that he normally doesn’t see from the West Coast of North America.
‘I can’t wait to get there (to Kamloops) and see the fan base and meet them,” he adds. “As a player having fans behind you makes it fun to come to the ballpark.”
NorthPaws co-owner Norm Daley says, ““We’re really excited to be able to move on so quickly with Keith’s hire. We know that Keith has a wealth of experience and a great knowledge of players and are looking forward to another great NorthPaws season.”
Francis hopes to be in Kamloops at the end of May or early June. His arrival depends on how deep his Pima team goes in the National College World Series. They are currently ranked in the top 20 and have won 14 games in a row.
In the meantime, he will be reaching out to players who have already committed to the NorthPaws this summer and will be securing at least one assistant coach.
The North Paws went 26-27 in their inaugural West Coast League season (2022) under head coach Cole Armstrong. They wound up third in the North Division. Kamloops opens up their 2023 season Tuesday June 2nd in Victoria against the Harbour Cats. Their home opener at Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium is Tuesday June 6th when the Portland Pickles come to town.
Ticket information and the complete schedule is available on the NorthPaws website: www.northpawsbaseball.ca.