McNeill Progresses to One of Poston Butte’s Best

2 years ago Andrew Luberda 0



Poston Butte head coach Chris Holcombe took over the Broncos’ baseball program in 2014, the same year as then incoming-freshman Nolan McNeill, who was a singles-hitting third baseman.

Now nearing the end of a four-year varsity career, McNeill has progressed into one of the Broncos’ best players in recent years.

“We’ve seen the progression with him since he was a freshman to what he is now as a senior leader for us,” Holcombe told “(He) competes every day, whether it’s in the weight room, at practice, or in a game.

“(Nolan) does all the little stuff right and really sets the example for our younger guys, and even our older guys here.”

Part of McNeill’s early progression was adapting to a new position.

“(I) started out playing third base (and) I didn’t really know much about shortstop,” recalled McNeill. “It (took) a lot of practice, extra work (on the field) on the weekends, and I practiced until I got the hang of it.”

McNeill increased his strength in addition to making some mechanical adjustments to improve his results at the plate. He went from hitting three extra-base hits – all doubles – as a sophomore to 19 extra-base hits this season, including 12 doubles and seven homeruns. He leads the 5A Sonoran Region in both of those categories in addition to four others, including batting average (.478), hits (44), RBI (33), and runs (42).

The four most recent of his seven homeruns came in back-to-back games – two apiece – against Cholla (Apr. 14) and Marana (Apr. 17).

“I used to have a closed-off stance and a stutter-step when I would stride,” McNeill explained about the changes he made in his swing. “Now it’s more opened, more fluid, and it allows me to get more power behind the bat.”

McNeill’s strength is one of the two biggest adjustments that Holcombe says he’s witnessed since his Player-of-the-Year candidate entered Poston Butte.

“His strength and his baseball IQ are the two things that have really progressed,” Holcombe said.

Spend a few minutes – enough for an interview – with McNeill, watch his pregame routine, and witness his reactions during a game and you’ll find he shares similar traits with a Diamondbacks’ player known as “America’s First Baseman.”

“Paul Goldschmidt,” answered McNeill, when asked to name a major-leaguer he likes to follow. “He’s awesome. He’s always out helping the community, he’s very humble when he plays, and he doesn’t showboat around like some of the other guys you see.”

When he’s not on the diamond or studying for school, McNeill likes to longboard and listen to music.

“Some G-Eazy, J. Cole – stuff like that,” McNeill named as some of the artists he likes to listen to.

McNeill, a soon-to-be three-time All-Region First Team selection, has made enough “progress” as a member of the Broncos’ program to continue his baseball and academic career at the next level. He announced in January that he will attend Pacific University, located in Forest Grove, Oregon.

“They’re getting a guy with a great work ethic,” Holcombe said about the type of player the Boxers’ coaches are getting in McNeill. “A guy that’s going to do whatever they need, whenever they need it.”

McNeill figures to do some of the same things at Pacific that he learned to do successfully at Poston Butte.

Swing for the fences.