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Published On: November 1st, 2023


By Evan Brown

Battle Creek, MI – The hunt to round out the coaching staff for the 2024 Battle Creek Battle Jacks is officially over. Newly announced Field Manager Ben Harley will take the helm for the Jacks in 2024, but the quest to assemble the other key components of the coaching staff was yet to be finished – until today.

Coach Harley will be joined in Battle Creek by Evan Bates, Colton Kelly, and Jacob Schaefer for the 2024 season.

Evan Bates – Evan Bates joins the Battle Jacks coaching staff in 2024 as the Bullpen Coach and Assistant Pitching Coach. From Montesano, Washington, Bates worked as an Assistant Coach for the Port Angeles Lefties last summer, a member of the North Division of the West Coast League, and in fact became the youngest Head Coach in WCL history on July 1, 2023. Bates is finishing his M.S. in Sport & Athletic Administration at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. At CWU, Evan serves as the External Affairs Graduate Assistant in the athletic department.

Prior to his time at Central Washington, Bates played baseball at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon, where he also attained a B.S. in Sport Management (2022). He played baseball for three years at Linfield, before graduating early. Before transferring to Linfield, Bates played at Centralia College under Battle Jacks Head Coach Ben Harley.

Colton Kelly – Colton Kelly joins the Battle Jacks coaching staff in 2024 as the hitting coach. He will also coach 3rd base. Kelly currently is the hitting coach for Wenatchee Valley College. Prior to Wenatchee Valley Kelly coached at Skagit Valley College where he helped lead them to the playoffs.

In the summer of 2023 Kelly was an assistant coach for the Wenatchee Applesox of the West Coast League. During his time with the Applesox their offense broke two franchise records (most walks and most home runs in a single game) while also leading the West Coast League in total home runs as a team. Kelly helped guide the team to the 2023 WCL playoffs.

Prior to beginning his coaching career Kelly spent time playing for Skagit Valley College, Columbia Basin College and finished his playing career at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

Jacob Schaefer – Coach Jacob Schaefer Joins the Battle Jacks coaching staff in 2024. He will coach 1B and work with infielders primarily. Currently he is entering his third season as part of the Centralia College baseball program in Washington State. In his two years coaching at Centralia College he helped the Centralia Blazers to improve defensively from being 22nd out of 26 teams in the NWAC to last season (2022-23) finishing 6th out of 28 teams and a recorded .964 fielding percentage during season play.

Also, in those two years he has helped develop an ABCA Pacific Association All-American Third Team Infielder, 1st Team All NWAC Infielder, two 1st team All Conference Infielders, two 2nd Team All Conference Infielders as well as two Gold Glove West award recipients.

The Battle Jacks finished the season in last place in the Great Lakes East Division in 2023 with a 31-41 record, and will be looking to create quite an impact on the field in 2024.

“I am very excited to join the Battle Creek franchise this next summer,” said Battle Jacks Manager, Ben Harley. “We can’t wait to bring an entertaining style of baseball to MCCU Field and put out a product the fans can be proud of! My family and I can’t wait to be part of the Battle Creek community on and off the field next summer. We look forward to seeing everyone out at the ballpark.”


The Battle Creek Battle Jacks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 27th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 250 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB Gold Glove finalist and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set Battle Creek as your favorite team.