NWAC West Region: 2019 Preview

Centralia College – Centralia, WA

Head Coach Kawika Emsley-Pai (1st year)
Assistants Joash Brodin, Jason Watson, Kramer Champlin
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website www.centralia.edu/athletics/
2018 Record 13-27 overall, 9-16 in conference (4th in region)
Top Returning Players Colton Titus, SO, INF, 1st Team All-Region (.350 avg, 55 H, 9 SB, 9 2B)
Cole Doughty, SO, RHP (35.1 IP, 3-4 W/L, 5.09 ERA)
Ethan Hori, SO, INF/OF
Top New Players Nolan Wasson, SO, 3B/OF, Spokane CC
Festus Gilligan, SO, INF/OF, Everett CC
Zach Vetter, FR, RHP, Toutle Lake HS (WA)
James Billotti, FR, INF/OF, Kentridge HS (WA)
Josh Parks, FR, OF, Tahoma HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “2019 is an exciting year for Blazer Nation. With the new coaching staff and new look, we aim to bring a style of baseball this town hasn’t seen in a long time. The culture these players have created with this team in such a short period of time has been fun to watch. It’s been a pleasure coming to the yard every day and getting to spend my days with men who care about each other as much as these guys do. We as coaches can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this program.”
What would you want a prospective student-athlete to know about your program? “Our program’s mission is to not only give the players every opportunity to succeed in baseball but to prepare them to become successful men in society. The relationships we have with our players is way more important than any accolade you can achieve in this sport. We take pride in developing all of aspects in life in pursuit of developing a growth mindset. We are always looking for players who believe in something bigger than themselves.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Emsley-Pai moves up from head assistant and takes the interim head coach tag after new-in-the-fall head coach Cody Atkinson left for a position with the Cincinnati Reds. Emsley-Pai comes to Centralia College after a successful playing career at NAIA powerhouse LC-State and a 6 year minor league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A large group of recruited freshmen and transfers look to make a difference for Centralia in the very competitive NWAC West. Titus will lead the offense and was 15th in all NWAC hitting last year while Doughty returns the most innings on the mound. Titus has committed to Towson University for 2020.

Centralia will open up against Shoreline for a 4-game series starting on February 23. Good luck Blazers!

Grays Harbor College – Aberdeen, WA

Head Coach Mike Bruner (3rd year)
Assistants Jess Marlow, Brandon Templer, Jeremy Brock
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website ghcathletics.com
2018 Record 5-38 overall, 4-21 overall (6th in region)
Top Returning Players Devin Burleigh, SO, OF
Mike Jarvis, SO, RHP/INF (.225 avg)
Sawyer Rhoden, FR, UTL (.230 avg)
Kai Meuronen, SO, RHP (3.52 ERA)
Luke Thoreson, SO, RHP (4.26 ERA, 12.2 IP)
Kelly Polk, SO, RHP
Top New Players Peyton Brock, FR, C, Bonney Lake HS (WA)
Evan Turnquist, FR, 3B, Olympic HS (WA)
Collin Wentworth, FR, SS, McNary HS (OR)
Zach Spradlin, RS-FR, 2B, St. Martins University
Lasith Narasinghe, FR, C/DH, Cimarron-Memorial HS (NV)
Head Coach Commentary “We have two great additions to the coaching staff for 2019, in Jesse Marlow and Jeremy Brock. They are great character guys; they know the game; they understand the kind of culture and value system we are working to build at GHC Baseball. We also have a talented group of freshmen that are working hard to develop, alongside a core group of dedicated and competitive sophomores. The feel of the playing environment, and competitive attitude of this team is great. The coaches and players are very excited about what we can accomplish this season.”
What would you want a prospective student-athlete to know about your program? “A strong foundation for our program is being established, on a daily basis. That foundation is a positive culture, created with intentional values. We’ve turned the corner and are headed in the right direction. We are looking for blue-collar, competitive guys that know the value of hard work and want to be a part of something special. We are a baseball family that works to build each other up, within a positive and competitive playing environment, as we strive to reach our current and future goals.”
BBNW Analysis Expectations are high for Coach Mike Bruner in his third season with the
development of the sophomores last season and his best recruiting class in talent and depth, but moving up in a very tough NWAC West division will not be easy. Pitching and defense development could be the biggest impact to their 2019 success. The potential starting rotation of Thoreson, Meuronen, and Polk are a key with the addition of many newcomers on defense.Gray’s Harbor opens up at Southwestern Oregon on February 23rd for a 4 game series. Good luck Chokers!
BBNW Alumni on Roster  9

Green River College – Auburn, WA

Head Coach Brian Embery (9th year)
Assistants Jake Weiss, Dane Weiss
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website https://www.greenriver.edu/
2018 Record 6-31 overall, 6-18 in conference (5th in region)
Top Returning Players Ryan Pote, SO, OF (.228 avg)
  Tyce Miller, SO, UTL (.237 avg)
Top New Players Awaiting response.
Head Coach Commentary Awaiting response.
BBNW Analysis Coach Embery begins his 9th year at Green River. He previously won over 450 games at NCAA Division ll Emporia State. He was also a member of the 1975 NWAC Champion Gators. Embery welcomes 21 freshmen on the 2019 roster for a run at the NWAC tournament which the Gators haven’t appeared in since 2009. Two of only four sophomores on the roster, Ryan Pote and Tyce Miller, bring two-way experience from 2018.

Green River opens up March 2-3 vs. Western Washington. Good luck Gators!

BBNW Alumni on Roster  3

Lower Columbia College – Longview, WA

Head Coach Eric Lane (2nd year)
Assistants Ian Sanderson, Ryan Littlefield
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website lccreddevils.com
2018 Record 36-7, 26-3 (1st in region, NWAC Champions)
Top Returning Players Mitch Lines, SO, RHP, 1st Team All-Region, 2nd Team All-Conference (55 IP, 6-0 W/L, 1.94 ERA)
Justin Solt, SO, RHP (55 IP, 5-0 W/L, 3.95 ERA, 50 K, 8 BB)
Yancy Bird, SO, RHP, 2nd Team All-Region (58 IP, 6-2 W/L, 2.77 ERA, 69 K)
Noah Andrews, SO, OF, 1st Team All-Region (.355 avg, 34 RBI)
GJ Hurst, SO, OF, 2nd Team All-Region (.271 avg, 3 HR in conference)
DeShawn Johnson, SO, RHP/INF, 2nd Team All-Region  (.319 avg, 15 RBI, in conference)
Top New Players Jhamante Woods FR, 1B, Westview HS (OR)
Dakota Hawkins FR, RHP, W.F West HS (WA)
Preston Viltz FR, OF, Kentridge HS (WA)
Colin Floyd FR, C, Todd Beamer HS (WA)
Shane Jamison FR, UTIL, Sehome HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “Returning some experience on the hill. I feel like we should have a great mix of athletes that can handle the stick and run the bases. Great athletes in the outfield that should be exciting to watch.”
What would you want a prospective student-athlete to know about your program? NWAC titles 3 of the last 4 years.
BBNW Analysis In his first year at the helm last year, Coach Lane continued the very strong tradition of winning at Lower Columbia by leading the Red Devils to another NWAC championship, their 3rd in 4 years. The Baseball Northwest alum is a former Red Devil assistant coach and player, an NWAC MVP, a Gonzaga All-Conference player and assistant coach.

The Red Devils carry the #1 pre-season coaches poll ranking into the 2019 season. Their offense (1st in batting average, 2nd in on base percentage and 2nd in runs in NWAC) will need some rebuilding, but will be led by Andrews, Johnson and Hurst. The pitching and defense were nearly as good (3rd in all NWAC for both.) LC returns a strong core on the mound. Lines was 13th in the NWAC in ERA and Bird was 15th in strikeouts.  Lines has committed to Boise State, while Solt will go to George Washington University.

Lower Columbia opens up at home March 2-3 vs. Yakima Valley. Good luck Red Devils!

Class of 2018 Top Prospects on roster,
ranked previously by Baseball Northwest
Washington: #24 Preston Viltz
BBNW Alumni on Roster  20

Pierce College – Lakewood, WA

Head Coach Kevin Davis (7th year)
Assistants Jim Odell, Jake Phillips, Elliot Morris, Ryan Schmitten
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website www.pierceraiders.com
2018 Record 26-23 overall, 17-8 (3rd in region)
Top Returning Players Dominic Agron, SO, LHP, 1st Team All-Region (4-2 W/L, 1.64 ERA, 38 IP, 30 SO)
Nainoa Paragoso, SO, OF, 2nd Team All-Region (.362 avg, 21 H, 10 RBI, 6 SB)
Tyler Fox, SO, RHP (.345 avg, 10 H, 3 SB)
Jacob Hinkle, SO, INF (.286 avg, 24 H, 13 RBI, 5 SB)
Brock Wrolstad, SO, LHP (4-1 W/L, 2.72 ERA, 43 IP, 30 SO)
Top New Players Anthony Hoopil, FR, P/OF, Baldwin HS (HI), drafted 16th round to the Twins
Mason Hoover, FR, P/SS, Ballard HS (WA), committed to Seattle U
Nate Felbrich, FR, OF/IF, Eastside Catholic (WA)
Rhys DeHighden, FR, OF/C, Marcellin College (Australia)
Cody Russell, FR, INF, Curtis HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “There are high expectations for this season, with pitching and defense being key. The pitching staff is comprised of a number of talented returners and some key newcomers.  Defensively, the Raiders return only a few players from last season, but with a strong recruiting class, should have limited concerns with the glove.  Offensively, speed will be the highlight, with some power spread around.  We are looking forward to another successful Raider baseball season in 2019.”
What would you want a prospective student-athlete to know about your program? “Here at Pierce College, we are  preparing student athletes to take the next step in their academic and athletic careers. With the molding of both the mind and body, we produce players ready for the next level.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Davis enters his 7th year at the helm of the Raiders in quest of a NWAC championship which he was part of as an assistant coach in 2012—Pierce’s last title. He was the head assistant and pitching coach then and coached the Raider’s pitching to a 1.95 conference ERA. Pierce has been to the post-season in each of the last eight years and Davis has a .726 conference winning percentage as the head coach.

Agron and Wrolstad lead the pitching staff of a solid core of returners that was 10th in pitching in the NWAC a year ago. The new players will need to have a significant impact on the offense which was 7th in the NWAC last year. Paragoso, Fox, and Hinkle return speed and proven offense. The up-the-middle defense will need to play as well as last year’s 4th NWAC best in fielding percentage. An NWAC West representative has finished 1st or 2nd in the NWAC tournament in eight of the last 11 years with Pierce being two of those. Pierce is ranked #8 in the NWAC pre-season coaches poll. Mason Hoover has early committed to Seattle University.

Pierce opens up at Edmonds CC on February 23-24. Good luck Raiders!

Tacoma Community College – Tacoma, WA

Head Coach Ryan Mummert (9th year)
Assistants Marcus Hinkle, Andrew Olson
Affiliation NWAC
Conference West Region
Website www.tacomatitans.com
2018 Record 34-10 overall, 19-6 (2nd in region)
Top Returning Players Justin VanDeBrake, SO, OF, 2nd Team All-Conference (.369 avg, 10 2B, 4 HR, 30 RBI), signed with Washington State University
Cameron MacIntosh, SO, INF, 2nd Team All-Conference (.333 avg, 8 2B, 3 HR, 25 RBI)
Brock Gagliardi, SO, C, 2nd Team All-Region (.322 avg, 4 2B, 3 HR, 25 RBI)
Logan Gerling, SO, RHP, 1st Team All- Region (1.96 ERA, 4-1 W/L, 41 IP, 41 K)
Alex McBee, SO, LHP (3.92 ERA, 3-2 W/L, 36 IP, 44 K), signed with Seattle University
Josh Vitus, SO, RHP, 1st Team All-Region (3.10 ERA, 9-1 W/L, 69 IP, 61 K)
Top New Players Mason DeLaCruz, INF, SO, Washington State University
Sam Olsson, C, SO, San Jose State University
Jon Fortner, RHP, RS-FR, High Point University (NC)
Gavin Grant, INF, FR, Puyallup HS (WA)
Head Coach Commentary “This is a very sophomore-heavy team. We return 5 of our top 6 hitters from a year ago and with the addition of a couple D1 transfers, our position players might be the most talented group we have collectively had here at TCC.  We have a few holes to fill on the mound but have some quality pieces returning. If we can get some arms back healthy and some your arms make the jump, we like our chances in the postseason.”
What would you want a prospective student-athlete to know about your program? “Tacoma is a great place not only for athletics but to continue your education. Our program consistently maintains over a 3.0 team GPA and our student-athletes move on to amazing places after TCC. We have sent 44 players to D1’s over the last 6 years as well as many others to great 4-year Universities.”
BBNW Analysis Coach Mummert begins his 9th year at the helm of the Titans and has been in the NWAC tournament 4 of the last 6 years. Tacoma has a 71% winning percentage in that time. TCC enters the 2019 season ranked #5 in the NWAC pre-season coaches poll. The offense should be the strength with 5 starters returning with VanDeBrake leading the way after he finished 9th in hitting in the NWAC last year. The Titans were 3rd in hitting last year (.308 avg) as one of only three NWAC teams over .300. Vitus returns the most innings and most wins from last year’s pitching staff which was 5th in team pitching. The addition of Jon Fortner to an already strong pitching staff could set the Titans up for one of their best seasons yet.

The 20 newcomers arrive with big expectations. There are 4 new Titans that were previously ranked on Baseball Northwest’s Top Prospect Lists for their respective graduation years: Gavin Grant was ranked #13 in the state of Washington for the 2018 class. For the 2017 graduation class, Mason DeLaCruz was ranked #7 in Washington, Sam Olsson #8 in Oregon, and Jon Fortner #11 in Oregon. VanDeBrake has an early commitment to Washington State and McBee to Seattle University.

Tacoma opens up at Olympic for a double header on February 24th. Good luck Titans!

Class of 2018 Top Prospects on roster,
ranked previously by Baseball Northwest
Washington: #13 Gavin Grant
BBNW Alumni on Roster  24

These season previews were compiled by Jeff McKay and Josh Warner.

View other season previews here:
NAIA West
GNAC (NCAA Division II)
Northwest Conference (NCAA Division III)
NCAA Division I
ID/MT Junior Colleges