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Keith Francis tabbed as Kamloops NorthPaws’ manager

The new skipper coached Albert Pujols in junior college in the late 1990s; NorthPaws' home opener is June 6
Keith Francis in his Canyon del Oro uniform, one of several stops he has made on his baseball journey that, in 2023, will bring him to the NorthPaws in Kamloops.

The Kamloops NorthPaws have filled a suddenly vacant manager position by elevating assistant skipper Keith Francis.

Francis will lead the West Coast League baseball team in 2023, becoming the third manager to lead the team, succeeding Brian Anderson, who in turn replaced Cole Armstrong.

Armstrong coached the NorthPaws in their inaugural season in 2022, but departed for a position with the Webber Academy Wildcats Baseball program in Calgary.

While Anderson was hired to replace Armstrong, Anderson jumped at the opportunity to coach with NCAA Division I Northwestern University in Illinois, leaving the NorthPaws seeking a bench boss just two months before the season begins.

Enter Francis, who was set to be Anderson’s assistant for the 2023 campaign. Francis and Anderson had been working with the Pima Community College Aztecs in Arizona and both had committed to coming to Kamloops for this year’s West Coast Baseball season. Francis was Anderson’s coach in high school.

“I am looking forward to the coming season,” Francis said in a NorthPaws’ release. “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 and a number of the players on Aztecs roster had been recruited by Anderson to play this summer for the NorthPaws.

“It will make the job easier,” Francis said, noting player familiarity. “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.

Francis said the NorthPaws will play an aggressive game.

“We will steal a lot of bases, do a lot of hit and runs,” he said. “That is West Coast baseball. That is the way we will play.”

Francis said he is looking forward to coaching players from the West Coast he normally doesn’t see.

‘I can’t wait to get there and see the fan base and meet them,” he said. “As a player, having fans behind you makes it fun to come to the ballpark.”

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. The Aztecs are currently ranked in the top 20 in the U.S. and have won 14 games in a row.

Francis’ baseball pedigree

The newest NorthPaws’ skipper’s resume includes coaching Albert Pujols at Maple Woods Community College (1997-1998), securing a third-place finish in the 1998 Junior College World Series at Grand Junction, Col. and helping Canyon del Oro High School to the 5A State Championship in 2002. In addition, he was an assistant coach at the University of Arizona from 2007 to 2010, where the club made regionals in three of the four years and made it to the Super Regionals in 2008, when the team lost to the University of Miami.

A look back — and ahead

The North Paws went 26-27 in their inaugural West Coast League season of 2022, finishing third in the North Division and qualifying for the playoffs, where the team was ousted in the first round by the Wenatchee AppleSox. Kamloops will open its 2023 season on June 2 in Victoria against the Harbour Cats. The NorthPaws’ home opener at Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium will be June 6 against the Portland Pickles come to town. The West Coast League features a 56-game schedule from June 2 to Aug. 6, followed by playoffs.

Ticket information, along with the complete schedule, is available on the NorthPaws’ website at

The West Coast League is the West’s top summer collegiate baseball league, with 17 teams in B.C., Alberta, Washington and Oregon.