NWAC East Region: 2018 Preview

Big Bend Community College – Moses Lake, WA

Head Coach Jameson Lange (1st year)
Assistants Ryan Doumit, Craig Carter, Mitch Darlington, Reign Letkeman, Steve Keller
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website www.bbccvikings.com
2017 Record 25-17 overall, 13-15 (6th in conference)
Top Returning Players  Cody Banks, Sophomore, SS, 1st Team NWAC East, ALL- NWAC 2nd Team, (.377 avg, 40 RBI)
Nathaniel English, Sophomore, OF (.306 avg, 24 SB)
Daniel Fornito, Sophomore, INF (.367 avg)
Austin Pesicka, Sophomore, RHP (4.58 ERA, 6 starts)
Top New Players Ben Albrecht, Freshman, 2B, East Valley HS (WA)
JJ Smith, Freshman, OF, Basic Academy (NV)
Tanner Van Lith, Freshman, UTL, Cashmere HS (WA)
Hayden Knight, Sophomore, RHP, Sehome HS (WA)
Jordan Moreno, Freshman, RHP, Liberty HS (NV)
Head Coach Commentary “Big Bend Community College returns 12 sophomores and added 26 freshmen. We are excited with the depth of our pitching staff and the maturity of our starting 9. Our expectation is to compete for an NWAC Eastern Region Championship.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Lange takes over after being the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Vikings. He replaces legendary Moses Lake High alum and 6- year Big Bend CC coach Pete Doumit whose coaching career spanned 45 years. Pete’s son Ryan will be an assistant coach. The younger Doumit recently finished a 10-year major league career. The Vikings have the returning core and high potential newcomers to improve on a solid 25-win campaign in 2017. Hayden Knight has signed early with William Penn University.

Blue Mountain Community College – Pendleton, OR

Head Coach Brad Baker (5th year)
Assistants Chris Henke, Derek Bettinson
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website http://www.bluecc.edu/athletics/
2017 Record 19-27 overall, 10-18 (7th in conference)
Top Returning Players Colton Walker, Sophomore, P, (3.43 ERA, 11 Starts, 76 IP, 6 wins)
TJ Rea, Sophomore, INF (.260 avg, 20 RBI)
Nate Cantonwine, Sophomore, C/OF (.269 avg, 17 RBI)
Chase Root, Sophomore, P, (4.64, 16 games)
Top New Players Nychal Gritz, Freshman, P, Hermiston HS (OR)
Hunter Hughes, Freshman, 3B, Tigard HS (OR)
Noah Keough, Freshman, INF/P, Wilson HS (OR)
Fabian Green, Freshman, P, Kennewick HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “After winning the third most games in school history last season, we are excited to start the 2018 season at BMCC. We bring back twenty players from last year’s team and we added some talented freshman that help make us a competitive team. We look forward to competing for a top spot in the NWAC East.
BBNW Analysis Coach Baker has improved the Timberwolves each year in the win total. He is a former Blue Mountain pitcher and pitching coach. He also pitched and coached at Pacific University. A 20-game home schedule to start the season will get them ready for start the tough NWAC East competition.

Columbia Basin College – Pasco, WA

Head Coach Brent Wyatt (2nd year)
Assistants Steve Schultz, Jonathan Schlender
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website http://cbchawks.com/
2017 Record 35-15 overall, 19-9 (1st in conference)
Top Returning Players Hunter French, Sophomore, RHP, 1st Team All-NWAC, 1st Team All-Conference, All American, NWAC Pitcher of the Year (1.82 ERA, 10 wins, 79 IP)
Ethan Denney, Sophomore, RHP (1.17 ERA, 15 IP)
Ryan Sanders, Sophomore, 1B (.279 avg)
Top New Players Alexander Orejudos, Freshman, 3B/RHP, Ellensburg HS (WA)
Troy Simpkins, Freshman, 2B, Chiawana HS (WA)
Ryan Dearing, Freshman, OF, Kamiakin HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “It is always our goal to go out and compete and play better baseball than our opponent. We believe that we go about things the right way and we hold ourselves to a very high standard.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Wyatt has CBC ready to contend for a NWAC title in his second year. Pitching will lead the way with Hunter French, the NWAC Pitcher of the Year. The Hawks were 1st in team ERA a year ago. CBC led all the NWAC in hitting last year but graduated most of those contributors. Coach Wyatt is a former Detroit Tigers farmhand and won two national championships while at Lewis-Clark State. He was also named 2017 NWAC East Region Coach of the Year. The Hawks are ranked #8 in the Northwest JC pre-Season poll per Collegiate Baseball.

Spokane Falls Community College – Spokane, WA

Head Coach Bryan Winston (1st year)
Assistants Ryne Webb, Seth Heckel, Hayden Pewitt
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website http://athletics.spokane.edu/
2017 Record 22-19 overall, 15-13 (5th in conference)
Top Returning Players Nick Flesher, Sophomore, LHP, 1st Team East Region, 2nd Team ALL-NWAC (1.55 ERA, 69 IP, 6 wins)
Aaron Fritts, Sophomore, OF (.367 avg, 9 doubles, 3 HR)
Isaac Wersland, Sophomore, OF/DH (8 HR, led East Region)
Brayden Olson, C (.364 avg)
Top New Players Ryan Gross, Freshman, C, Sac State University
Gabe Martin, Freshman, SS, Mt. Spokane HS (WA)
Jadan Vandervert, Freshman, OF, Shadle Park HS (WA)
Marcus Cain, Freshman, LHP, Mt. Spokane HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “Our fall practice days were as competitive as they have ever been and our guys have done a tremendous job adapting to a new coaching staff.  We really like the sophomores coming back who will add experience and depth on the mound and at the plate.  The freshman class have been quick learners and really shaped the competitive environment we wish to create.  We know playing in the always-competitive NWAC east region that we need to show up and play each day and we are excited to get started. “
BBNW Analysis Coach Winston takes over the Bigfoot program after being a former player and 8-year assistant. He has strong Spokane-area roots and finished his playing career at Gonzaga. A strong core of offense and pitching return to make a run at the East title. Flesher was 4th in ERA and Wersland was 2nd in home runs in all the NWAC.

Treasure Valley Community College – Ontario, OR

Head Coach Steve Luby (1st year)
Assistants Greg Christensen, Brady Baker
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website www.Gochuks.com
2017 Record 27-22 overall, 16-14 (4th in conference)
Top Returning Players Chase Barrera, Sophomore, INF
RJ Robles, Sophomore, LHP
Top New Players CC Burrup, Freshman, OF, Pocatello HS (ID)
Casey Rodriguez, Freshman, P/OF, Fruitland HS (ID)
Carson Wong, Redshirt Freshman, UTL, Mountain View HS (ID)
Braden Palmer, Freshman, 2B, Century HS (ID)
Head Coach Commentary “Have a great group of kids- hard working, blue collar- that come to compete everyday. I’m looking forward to our growth and competitiveness.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Luby has the interim head coach tag for 2018 Chukars after the departure of Dave Nakama to the University of Washington. He takes over after 6 years as an assistant at TVCC and a 20 year head coach in Oregon high schools. The former Oregon State and Western Oregon University player was the 1991 state of Oregon High School Coach of the Year. The newcomers are expected to contribute greatly to move up TVCC in the NWAC East.

Walla Walla Community College – Walla Walla, WA

Head Coach Dave Meliah (9th year)
Assistants JC Biagi, Keith Woelber, Chris Meliah, Martin Telstad
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website http://warriors.wwcc.edu/baseball/
2017 Record 30-20 overall, 17-11 (3rd in conference)
Top Returning Players Sean Coffey, Sophomore, OF (.316 avg, .415 OBP, 9 doubles)
Kealen Martin, Sophomore, 1B (.317 avg, .400 OBP, 3 HR)
Quentin Lafontaine, Sophomore, SS/2B (.284 avg, .395 OBP)
Dimick Wood, Sophomore, RHP/INF/C (3-1, 1 S, 18 K, 29.1 IP)
Austin Haughton, Sophomore, RHP (2-4, 2 S, 22K, 30.2 IP)
Top New Players Julian Washburn, Freshman, RHP, Lewiston HS (ID)
Mike Peterson, Freshman, RHP, Pullman HS (WA)
Cody Garza, Freshman, 3B, Lake City HS (ID)
Cooper Larson, Freshman, OF/LHP, Moscow HS (ID)
Brayde Hirai, Freshman, OF/LHP, Chiawana HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “We will play a very competitive pre-season schedule to help us get ready to compete in the always-challenging NWAC East Region.”
BBNW Analysis The Warriors are coming off a 30-win season and a 3rd place finish in the NWAC Tournament in 2017 under the direction of Coach Meliah. He is a Walla Walla alum and 8-year assistant coach after spending six years playing in the Texas Rangers organization. A good balance of offense, defense, and pitching returns from the team that made the NWAC Super Regional each year under Coach Meliah direction.

Wenatchee Valley College – Wenatchee, WA

Head Coach Zach Clanton (2 years)
Assistants Beau Kerns, Lincoln Rivera, Dusty Kerns
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website https://www.wvc.edu/athletics/
2017 Record 4-34 overall, 4-24 (8th in conference)
Top Returning Players Tom Scheffler, Sophomore, RHP
Dalton Harum, Sophomore, OF/RHP (6 HR)
Jon Mitchell, Freshman, OF
Connor Cardinel, Sophomore, RHP
Top New Players Riley Benedetti, Sophomore, RHP, Washington State/Yakima Valley CC
Dalton Stamper, LHP, Lewis-Clark State
Aleks Hanson, Freshman, RHP, Archbishop Murphy HS (WA)
Ben McKay, Freshman, SS, Wenatchee HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “For the first time since getting here as an assistant I feel we have a club that can make a postseason run. We finally have the talent and the depth on the mound needed to shut teams down. Last year our offense had a solid season slugging the baseball and could score runs in bunches but the pitching was not up to par. Being able to run out 3 potential draft guys (Scheffler, Benedetti and Hanson) will allow us to beat anyone on any given day. Our defense has taken a much needed step up as well. That starts in the middle with our SS/2B combo. Last year’s middle was very offensive minded, this year’s pair will glove it as well as anyone in the league which will make it a lot more comforting for our pitchers. We have some guys that can hit the ball out of the yard with Dalton Harum (6 home runs as a freshman), Jon Mitchell, Austin Earl and our catcher Abel Osoria. What will be big is cutting down our strikeout numbers from last year and finding ways to manufacture runs when the ball isn’t leaving the yard.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Clanton is in his second year at the helm of the Knights after serving as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for two years. Zach was a member of four Lewis-Clark State NAIA World Series appearances and is second in all-time pitching appearances for the Warriors. Brothers Dustin and Beau Kearns are assistant coaches. Beau was MVP of the 2015 NAIA World Series. The pitching and defense should be vastly improved to add to the offensive power from a year ago.

 Yakima Valley Community College – Yakima, WA

Head Coach Kyle Krustangel (3rd year)
Assistants Cash Ulrich, Tyler VonDracek, Riley Drongesen
Affiliation NWAC
Conference East Region
Website www.goyaks.com
2017 Record 33-18 overall, 18-10 (2nd in conference)
Top Returning Players Cole McKenzie, Sophomore, OF, 1st Team All-NWAC, 1st Team All-American, NWAC East MVP (.396 avg, 28 RBI, 21 SB)
Gerald Hein, Sophomore, LHP, 1st Team All-NWAC (2.55 ERA, 7 wins, 86 K’s, 81 IP)
Tanner Parker, Sophomore, SS, 2016 All NWAC Tourney Team, 2nd Team All-NWAC, (.312 avg)
Tyler Detloff, Sophomore, OF, Honorable Mention (.338 avg, 16 SB)
Top New Players Johnny Sage, Sophomore, OF, Washington State University
Zach Inskeep, Sophomore, C, Washington State University
Tylor Nixon, Freshman, INF, Corvalis HS (MT)
Alec Gomez, Freshman, P, Eastlake HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “We are excited to have our 2016 Championship shortstop back from injury to help lead this talented group of Yaks. This fall we sent 10 players to the NWAC showcase and three of the arms we sent have already signed to LC State. This team will be sophomore heavy with lots of experience, complimented by a very talented freshman class.  The Yaks are 67-35 the last two years with an NWAC title in 2016 and hope to bring home their 22nd title back to Yakima this year.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Krustangle has had a huge impact on the YVCC program in his two years. It is hard to top a 2016 NWAC Championship title in his first year and a 2017 NWAC Championship appearance. Kyle is a former BBNW player. The Yaks are confident for a return to the tournament with heavy returning class of top contributors led by BBNW alumni and All-American Cole McKenzie. Yakima was 3rd in all NWAC hitting a year ago. They were ranked 6th in the Northwest JC pre-season poll by Collegiate Baseball. Pitchers Elias Moctezuma, Easton Henke, and Gerald Hein signed with Lewis-Clark State in the fall.