State Tournament Ends Challengers Season 39-14

Eugene, OR- The Challengers season came to a close July 31, 2019, after a 5-4 loss to the Medford Mustangs in the final game of the State Championship. This loss deeply resonated with fans after a similar 4-3 loss against Medford on July 29 in an extra inning. The Challengers fought hard throughout the other tournament games and ended their season 39-14.

Though the season ended short of a state championship, the Area 4 Champions played a great overall season with a 16-4 league record. The Challengers previously won an area title in 2016 and won at the State Tournament in 2012. The team expects to keep the ball rolling next year with 10 returning players.

The Medford Mustangs continued on to the American Legion Northwest Regional tournament in Lewiston, ID. They played four games in the regional championship, winning their first two games then losing against the Bozeman, MT, and Kennewick, WA, teams. Their season ended in a 1-0 loss on the second-to-last day of the tournament. Their overall record was 35-25, which is the second-highest in Area 4.

The Challengers to Play at the State Tournament

Klamath Falls, OR– The Challengers are set to play in the opening game of the American Legion Oregon State Tournament. The team advanced to this placement after defeating the Willamette Valley Titans in a decisive doubleheader. Eugene’s first state game will be against the Hillsboro Barbers at 10 A.M. in Klamath Falls. After this game, the Challengers will have the opportunity to progress through either a winner’s or loser’s bracket.

Our New Title Sponsor

Eugene Challenger Teammates and Fans,

As a locally owned business of over 50 years, we believe it is important to support our community. Specifically youth programs, youth athletics, and our local schools.  We understand that sports teach young athletes about more than just a game. Hard work, dedication, teamwork, failure and success are all part of the athletic experience. Sometimes these are hard lessons to learn but can remain with an athlete throughout their life. The Eugene Challengers have always represented these core values in the same way The Overhead Door Co. of Eugene-Springfield strives to be in our own business and community.

The members of the ownership team of The Overhead Door Co. of Eugene-Springfield were all high school athletes with Challenger affiliated schools, including being a part of the 1999 State Championship team.  Baseball has always been a part of our Overhead Door Family. From company picnics at Civic Stadium and now PK Park, to our own kids attending challenger camp each summer dreaming of one day becoming a Eugene Challenger themselves.

The Overhead Door Co. of Eugene-Springfield looks forward to a great partnership with the local athletes of The Eugene Challengers.

Let’s Play Ball!

Your Friends,

The Overhead Door Co. of Eugene-Springfield

Dear Baseball Fans from Coach Niles

Dear Baseball Fans,

I’m truly honored and excited to be selected as the Head Coach of the Eugene Challengers. The Challengers organization has been a first-class operation for several decades. With baseball opportunities for young athletes diminishing on a regular basis, the Challengers have not only survived but prospered over time. This accomplishment has only been possible because of the thousands of hours given by the Challengers’ board of directors and volunteers that have kept the vision alive. My job is to help continue the tradition. I’m excited to create a dynamic coaching staff that will work in collaboration with the high school programs that feed us and the board to cohesively form the best product on and off the field as possible. We plan on bringing you an exciting brand of baseball that our community can be proud to stand behind. I would like to thank Mr. Hartley, Mr. Duman, and the Challengers board of directors for allowing me to call Swede Johnson Stadium home.

Yours in baseball – Kenny Niles

Eugene Challengers gets a new winning coach

The Eugene Challengers American Legion baseball team will have a new coach this spring: Kenny Niles, a player and veteran coach, who will bring his knowledge and years of winning experience to the “squad.

“On behalf of the entire Eugene Challengers organization, we are excited to have Coach Kenny Niles as the next head baseball coach of our organization,” said Dale W. Hartley – President Eugene Challengers Board of Directors.

The Challengers Organization has a long history and rich tradition of producing quality Championship level teams and players and Coach Niles brings to the organization his own long history and rich tradition of success.

For over 40 years the Challengers organization has competed at the highest level of American Legion baseball and we look forward to many more successful years of caring on that tradition and success with Coach Niles.  Hartley said, “I encourage and invite you all to come out to our beautiful home field “Swede Johnson Stadium” and enjoy the some of the best American Legion baseball in the Pacific Northwest right here in Eugene.”

Niles is entering his 19th year as a high school baseball coach and is currently the Head Varsity Coach at Churchill High School where he has lead the Lancers to 3 straight semi-final appearances.

Niles graduated from Grant Union High School in 1993. During his time there he was an all-league outfielder and helped lead his team to a State Title. After high school, Niles played on the Central Oregon Community College Club team in hopes of furthering his baseball career. Niles had a career-ending illness and soon found a love for coaching.

Niles started his coaching career as the Head Coach of the Central Oregon Community College club team, and over the next 20 plus years he has coached at Mt. View, Bend, Grant Union, and Sisters High School and has received league Coach of the Year honors 4 times.

Before taking over the Lancers, Niles had a successful 6-year career at Sheldon High School. In 2007, he lead the Irish to the Southwest Conference title and a number #1 ranking in OSAA 6A. That team was anchored by 3 Oregon State signees and 2 players that were selected in the MLB draft. The Irish were ranked in the top 50 nationally.

One of his recent accomplishments as the Lancer’s head coach was winning the 2017 5A State Championship with a record of 29-3. That year Niles was selected to be the head coach of the South All-Stars in the Oregon All-Star Series. The South won the series and three of his Lancers received individual honors which included: Most Outstanding South Pitcher, Most Outstanding South Player, and Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.

During his stint at Churchill, Niles has had the honor of coaching over 10 All-State baseball selections. The Lancers have rostered the 5A State Pitcher of the Year the past 3 seasons, the 5A State Player of the Year in 2017, and Niles was selected the OACA Baseball Coach of the Year in 2017. In addition, 15 of his last 20 graduated seniors have gone on to play collegiately and this year’s team has 6 college committed players already. His Churchill summer team has won the Junior State Championship in 2017 and 2018 with a combined record of 55-6.

Niles acknowledges the list of coaches that have led the Challengers organization before him is truly amazing.

When asked what it means to become the next Challengers coach Niles said, “Some of the best baseball minds around have left a blueprint of what being a Challenger truly encompasses. We will work diligently on making sure we’re creating great student-athletes on and off the field. Being part of an organization that so many people have sacrificed so much time and effort is truly a privilege to be a part of.”

“As coaches, it is important that we realize the responsibility that comes with wearing that EC hat every day and getting to play at Swede Johnson Stadium. We will embrace this journey and provide a product the local community can proudly stand behind.”

When Kenny is not at the field he is in the classroom teaching Special Education at Churchill High School. He enjoys the outdoors but particularly the summer nights in Eugene. He likes watching baseball under the lights. Kenny is married to his wife Jennifer and they have a 2-year-old son, Camden Jacob (of course named after two baseball fields). Kenny’s parents live in Eugene and help tremendously with the family baseball experience. You will often see his father Roy mowing the field while his mother Gail is helping chase Camden around. Family means a lot to Coach Niles and that includes the players he coaches.

Eugene Challengers’ Tryouts May 23-25 2021

Every year, the Eugene Challengers hold a multi-day tryout to find the best 18 players from area schools to add to its roster. This year, those try-outs will be held at Swede Johnson Stadium from May 23 through May 25. The AAA try-outs are on coach recommendation or invitation only, and the times are as follows: 

5/23 9am-1pm 

5/24 6pm-9pm 

5/25 6pm-9pm 

A Ole athletics open tryouts for anyone in the Challengers region: 
Who should try out? 

Boys, age 15 – 19, from Churchill, Marist, North Eugene, Sheldon, Willamette, Crow, Elmira and Monroe high schools who want to play summer baseball. We’re looking for the best 18 players for the 2018 season. Register at check-in. See you at Swede Johnson Stadium May 31 through June 3!

What should I bring to try-outs? 

Wear your regular practice gear. Bring your bat, glove, batting helmet and school ID. And of course, your “a” game. Register at check-in. See you at Swede Johnson Stadium May 31 through June 3!

Should underclassmen try out? 

Yes! Even if you don’t make the 2018 team, trying out at this high level will give you a baseball workout and experience, you’ll get to work with a new coach and a chance to meet the Challengers’ staff. Register at check-in. See you at Swede Johnson Stadium May 31 through June 3!

What should I expect?

Eugene Challengers try-outs include a wide variety of baseball drills and skills exercises that give coaches a chance to see you in action. Come ready to work hard and have fun. Register at check-in. See you at Swede Johnson Stadium May 31 through June 3!

Baseball Radio Broadcasting Position

The Bi-Mart Eugene Challengers, American Legion Baseball team, is seeking a radio broadcaster to provide coverage for all of their Area 4 league games over KKNX Radio 84 this summer.  Applicants should have previous broadcasting experience and the ability to coordinate broadcasts with KKNX station personnel.  They will also be responsible for seeking and acquiring on-air sponsors.

Interested applicants should submit their resume with references and any on-air recordings or examples of their work.  Candidates will be contacted and interviewed by the Challenger hiring committee.  Please submit your resume to Eugene Challengers, P.O. Box 41408, Eugene, OR 97404.

Voice of the Challengers Retires

PaulPaul Yarbrough, long time voice of the Bi-Mart Eugene Challengers, both in the broadcasting and press box, has announced his retirement.  Paul has been an outstanding addition and representative of the Challenger organization during his tenure.  He provided the groundwork and implementation to bring the Challenger games to the airwaves and over the internet.  His broadcasts have heightened the profile of the Challengers as well as provide insightful information during his broadcasts to the Challenger faithful and listeners.  His signature line, “Welcome to between the hedges”, will live on.  He will be gone from the airwaves but not forgotten.  Please join the Eugene Challengers in wishing Paul and his wife well in their retirement.

Breaking News: Andrew Moore to report to Everett Aqua Sox

Andrew Moore, the All-American right hander who played two summers with the Eugene Bi-Mart Challengers, will report to the Everett Aqua Sox on Monday (June 15) after being drafted as the 72nd pick by the Seattle Mariners in last week’s major league draft.

The Aqua Sox are the Mariners’ Class A short-season affiliate in the Northwest League.

Moore, who played with the Challengers in 2009-10, attended North Eugene High School where he helped lead the Highlanders to the 2010 state 5A baseball championship as a sophomore.

He has spent the past 3 school years at Oregon State University where he helped lead the Beavers to the College World Series in 2013 and back-to-back Pac-12 championships (2013 and 2014).

This past spring, when Moore was Oregon State’s Friday night starter, the Beavers finished 2nd in the Pac-12 standings.

On the season in 2015, Moore had a 7-2 record and an earned run average of 1.91. In 122 1/3 innings, he struck out 111 batters and walked just 21.

In Pac-12 Conference play this season, he had a record of 6-1 and an earned run average of 1.51. In 77 2/3 innings of conference work, he struck out 69 batters and walked just 14.

By: Paul Yarbrough