NWAC West Region: 2020 Preview

Centralia College – Centralia, WA

Head Coach: Kawika Emsley-Pai (2nd year)
Assistants: Joash Brodin, Ben Harley
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website: www.centralia.edu/athletics/
2019 Record: 15-32 overall, 10-15 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Saturday, February 22nd vs. Edmonds CC in Lynnwood, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, WA
Top Newcomers:
Trystan Plunkett, FR, RHP/OF, Todd Beamer HS, BYU commit
Trent Jackson, FR, C/OF, Kentridge HS (WA)
Grant Roosma, FR, C, Westlake HS (TX)
Noah Bryerton, FR, LHP, Regent Christian Academy (BC)
Brock Keller, FR, RHP/1B, White River HS (WA)
Andrew Dalton, FR, INF, Mt. Rainier HS (WA)
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
The Blazers are coming off a postseason spot in 2019 (4th place finish in the West) during Coach Emsley-Pai’s first season in Centralia. He welcomes 23 new freshmen in 2020 as part of his first recruiting class, hoping to advance in the conference race. The returning arms are the strength of the sophomore class. RHP Taite Hensley will be the leader in the bullpen coming off a 20 inning, 3.60 ERA season. BBNW alum Josh Collett red-shirted last year but is ready to claim a rotation spot. Nolan Wasson is a veteran bat in the middle of the order and has strong utility value. He is a homegrown Centralia player and will be used on the mound as well. RHP Adrian Stacey returns after making 10 starts for the Blazers last season.
At the top of the new recruits is Baseball Northwest’s #37 ranked prospect for the Washington Class of 2019  Trystan Plunkett who will be a two-way player; the BYU commit should claim a starting spot in the rotation and provide corner outfield power. LHP Noah Byerton will also be a candidate for a starting rotation spot. Another two-way player with expected impact on both sides of the ball is RHP/1B Brock Keller. Two catchers will be in the middle order somewhere: Trent Jackson and Grant Roosma.  Andrew Dalton will add speed and defense to the 2020 Blazers.
The Blazers will be on the road for the first 20 games of the season. They will begin February 22nd at defending North Region champion Edmonds CC, followed by a visit to Big Bend CC. The West Region schedule begins at Grays Harbor College March 28th. The home opener is the next day vs. 2019 NWAC champion Lower Columbia College. The NWAC Regionals are May 15-17 and the Tournament is May 21-25 in Longview. Go Blazers!
Top Prospects on roster, previously ranked by Baseball Northwest:
Washington Class of 2019: #37 Trystan Plunkett
Class of 2020 Northwest players committed to Centralia:
Gannon Dow, Shorecrest HS
Derek Beairsto, Centralia HS
James Baglai, Valley Catholic HS
Jeremy Vierra, Henry M. Jackson HS
Samuel Romero, Horizon Christian HS
Caden Baker, Bothell HS
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 19

Grays Harbor College – Aberdeen, WA

Head Coach: Mike Bruner (4th year)
Assistants: Brandon Templer, Jeremy Brock, Cole Edwards, Jeremy Passmore
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website: ghcathletics.com
2019 Record: 6-34 overall, 6-19 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Thursday, February 20th vs. Southwestern Oregon CC in Lacey, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Centralia College in Aberdeen, WA
Top Newcomers:
Brandon Ochoa, FR, RHP, Rio Mesa HS (CA)
Trevor Barth, RHP, Southridge HS (OR)
Payton Quintanilla, 1B/RHP, Hoquiam HS (WA)
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Bruner’s 4th year leading the Chokers is expected to be a move up in the standings of the very tough NWAC West. The addition of needed depth and experience on the mound and talented position players could make 2020 a milestone year for Choker baseball.
A new culture with a young group coming together will be led by a solid group of sophomores. Team captain Peyton Block will hit in the middle of the lineup and provide defensive stability at catcher. BBNW alum Nolan Baugher will also catch some and DH when Block catches. He is expected to be one of the offensive impacts. The anchor of the 2020 Choker rotation should be red-shirt sophomore Justin Barber. The BBNW alum has the most innings of the 2019 returning staff. Grays Harbor will get two-way production from SS/RHP William Gross. He is expected to be the everyday shortstop and eat a lot of innings on the mound. Another two-way prospect is Californian Dylan Wilson who will contribute at third base and add bullpen depth.
The new Chokers who will likely have the biggest impact are RHP Brandon Ochoa who is expected to be the #2 starter. Trevor Barth is the likely 3rd starter after a great fall season. Local product Quintanilla also has two-way potential and can add much needed power and production from the back-end bullpen.
The key returners are also academic leaders. Brock has a 3.64 cumulative GPA; Barber finished the fall quarter with a perfect 4.0; Gross has a cumulative 4.0; and Wilson maintains a 3.84 GPA.
Southwestern Oregon will meet Grays Harbor in Lacey for the first home series February 20-21. The conference start is also in Lacey March 18th vs. Shoreline CC. The West Region opener is in Aberdeen vs. Centralia College March 28th. Grays Harbor finishes the 2020 league schedule May 8-9 with defending NWAC champion Lower Columbia College at home. Go Chokers!
Class of 2020 Northwest players committed to Grays Harbor:
Zachary Matson, Meadowdale HS
Caleb Berry, Meadowdale HS
Aiden McCarthy, Oak Harbor HS
Logan Brewer, Tenino HS
Konner Brockelman, White River HS
Tysen Richardson, Elma HS
Hunter Smith, White River HS
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 12

Green River College – Auburn, WA

Head Coach: Brian Embery (10th year)
Assistants: Jake Weiss, Dane Weiss
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website: https://www.greenriver.edu/
2019 Record: 4-32 overall, 1-24 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Saturday, February 22nd vs. Western Washington in Kent, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Lower Columbia in Longview, WA
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Embrey is in his 10th season with the Gators. It has been since 2009 that the Gators have appeared in the NWAC tournament. Two sophomore BBNW alumni lead the returning players—Ibrahim Mardini hit .333 last year and led the Gators in hits and slugging (.475) and Tyler Miller made 32 starts in the infield. Hunter Smith played multiple position in his 25 games. Two experienced arms return in Doug Miller and Christopher Swan. He made 8 starts in 2019. New LHP Terin Judy is an alum looking to add depth.
The season opens for the Gators February 22nd when Western Washington comes to Hogan Park.  Shoreline comes to Green River for the home pre-conference opener on March 14th for a doubleheader. The West Region schedule starts at NWAC Champion Lower Columbia CC.
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 4

Lower Columbia College – Longview, WA

Head Coach: Eric Lane (3rd year)
Assistants: Ian Sanderson, Kurt Lupinski, Michael Forgione
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website: lccreddevils.com
2019 Record: 40-9 overall, 22-3 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Saturday, February 29th vs. Community Colleges of Spokane in Longview, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Green River in Longview, WA
Top Newcomers:
Tyson Guerrero, SO, LHP/OF, WSU transfer, UW commit
Matthew Schwarz, FR, INF, Central Valley HS (WA)
Daniel Gernon, FR, OF, Lord Tweedsmuir (BC)
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Lane has led the Red Devils to back to back NWAC Championships in his two years as the Lower Columbia head coach. The BBNW alumni has a 76-16 record in those two years. He is a former LC assistant coach and a NWAC Most Valuable Player as a Red Devil. He finished his playing career at Gonzaga. Assistant coach Kurt Lupinski returns to Longview from Washington State where he was a volunteer assistant. He was an assistant on the LC staff that won the 2017 NWAC championship.
The 2020 Red Devils will return some veteran arms and a young group of talented position players to contend for another title. The preseason coaches poll has Lower Columbia ranked #2.   Five BBNW alumni are among the top six returners. Three potential starting role arms are Kaden Vanderwerf (5-0. 2.41) who had some big games last year, Dakota Hawkins (3 wins, 4.57) will move from the bullpen to starting role, and Nick Jennings who will be the leader of the pitching staff. An important bullpen piece will be LHP Alex Brady who had 3 wins, 4 saves, and a 1.13 ERA. He was a 1st Team West Region selection last year. RHP Eli Shubert also returns after making 5 starts in 2019. The offense will revolve around BBNW alum 1B Shane Jamison, a 1st Team West Region selection. He hit .339 and led the team in hits (60) and slugging (.480). Outfielder Chase Matheny had a big second half of the season and playoffs in 2019 and hit .274 with 3 home runs and 26 RBIs.
New Red Devil Tyson Guerrero will have two-way impact as LHP/OF. The Washington State transfer was Baseball Northwest’s #6 ranked prospect for the Washington Class of 2018. He has committed to the University of Washington and is getting looks professionally. Matthew Schwarz will handle the shortstop duties as a freshman and hit at the top of the order. Another speed player for the top of the order will be Daniel Gernon.
An early season match-up of the preseason coaches’ poll #1 and #2 teams opens the 2020 home schedule for Lower Columbia as #1 Spokane Falls comes to Longview February 29-March 1 for a four-game series. Green River comes to David Story Field to open the West Region schedule on March 28th. The key West four game set match up will be with Tacoma CC at home May 2-3. Go Red Devils!
Top Prospects on roster, previously ranked by Baseball Northwest:
Idaho Class of 2016: #1 Eli Shubert
Washington Class of 2017: #24 Nick Jennings
Washington Class of 2018: #6 Tyson Guerrero
Class of 2020 Northwest players committed to Lower Columbia:
Kyle Fitzgerald, Centennial HS
Nathan Prinz, Bishop Blanchet HS
Jadon Williamson, RA Long HS
Samuel Stuhr, Madison HS
Alex Ransom, Kelso HS
Brody Merritt, Port Angeles HS
Tyler Reese, Issaquah HS
Dylan Jester, Highland HS
Max Richards, Forest Grove HS
Cole Bertram, Southridge HS
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 27

Pierce College – Lakewood, WA

Head Coach: Kevin Davis (8th year)
Assistants: Jim Odell, Jake Phillips, David Smallwood
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website:  www.pierceraiders.com
2019 Record: 24-23 overall, 16-9 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Saturday, February 22nd vs. Shoreline at Tahoma HS in Lakewood, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Tacoma CC in Tacoma, WA
Top Newcomers:
Evan Overmars, FR, 3B, Bellarmine Prep (WA)
Kevin Varner, JR, OF/P, Baldwin HS (HI)
Logan Smith, FR, P, Kenai (AK)
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Coach Davis begins his 8th year at the helm of the Raiders and has led Pierce to the postseason in each of those years. He was the pitching coach in 2012 during the last Pierce NWAC Championship title. Speed and defense is a strength of the returning players with solid pitching expected. Hawaii native first baseman will anchor the offense coming off a .317 year, leading the team in hits, 2nd in RBIs and fielding .984. He received 1st Team West Region and 2nd Team All-NWAC honors. Shortstop Cody Russell is expected to be the spark plug with his speed and ability to get on base. The BBNW alum and Washington State commit hit .293 last season and led the NWAC with 33 steals. His double play partner Cody Isa fielded .971 and led the team in on-base percentage. Centerfielder Balas Buckmaster is expected to have a big sophomore season. Hawaiian LHP Ryan Archeta will be a starter with his 3.83 ERA in 11 appearances and 47 innings last season. Austrian Rhys DeHighden who caught in 35 games last year is back as well. The new Raiders will help right away in their designated areas: Evan Overmars in the middle of the hitting order, Hawaiian Kevin Varner in the outfield, and Alaska native Logan Smith on the mound for Pierce.
Shoreline comes to Pierce to open the season on February 22-23 followed by a home and home February 29-March 1 set with Bellevue CC. Big Bend comes west for a March 7-8 four game weekend and then the Raiders go east to Spokane Falls March 14-15. West Region play begins at home with Tacoma CC March 28th. A key South series will be at NWAC defending champion Lower Columbia April 25-26. Go Raiders!
Pierce Alumni currently playing professionally:
Leif Strom, RHP, GCL Nationals, Rookie, Washington Nationals, drafted in 2017
Class of 2020 Northwest players committed to Pierce:
Alex Grabowski, Curtis HS
Keaton Banister, Seattle Christian
Ethan Blechschmidt, Enumclaw HS
Kaden Steen, Curtis HS
Parker Goin, Tahoma HS
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 10

Tacoma Community College – Tacoma, WA

Head Coach: Ryan Mummert (10th year)
Assistants: Zach Miller
Affiliation: NWAC
Conference: West Region
Website:  www.tacomatitans.com
2019 Record: 41-10 overall, 20-5 in conference
2020 Opening Day: Saturday, February 22nd vs. Skagit Valley College in Bellingham, WA
2020 League Opener: Saturday, March 28th vs. Pierce College in Tacoma, WA
Top Newcomers:
Hunter Jenkins, FR, 1B, Tahoma HS (WA)
Mason Fritsch, FR, INF, FR, Tahoma HS (WA)
Sam Lauderdale, RS-FR, LHP, Transfer from WSU
Alex Miller, FR, LHP, FR, Skyview HS (WA)
What Baseball Northwest has to say about the 2020 season:
Tacoma CC is coming off one of their best seasons ever in 2019 with a school record 41 wins, a 9th straight postseason appearance under Coach Mummert, and a 3rd place finish in the NWAC Tournament. The Titans have been to the tournament 5 of the last 7 years. Mummert has moved Tacoma CC to national recognition with 303 wins in those 9 seasons. The preseason NWAC coaches poll has the Titans at #5.
Tacoma will need to rebuild their pitching rotation after losing 8 of their 9 starters from last year who all went on to play at D1 schools. LHP Jack Horn moves from the bullpen to the rotation after producing 3 wins in 11 appearances with a 4.61 ERA in 2019; he has committed to George Washington University. RHP Jon Fortner (3.66 ERA, 12 games, 4 starts) and RHP Dyson Johnson (25 K, 21 innings, 2.95 ERA) will also challenge for rotation spots.
This year’s Titans look to build upon the 2019 success that led the NWAC in batting average (.299) and runs (414). Two outfielders will be key to the 2020 offense—Thomas Wheeler who hit .302 last year earned a 2nd Team All-West Region selection and BBNW alum Josh Trujillo hit .282 in a limited role.
The defense might be another strength of the 2020 Titans. Shortstop Mason De La Cruz transferred in from Washington State in 2019 but was red-shirted last year with an injury. He had only 1 error in 100+ chances at WSU. He was Baseball Northwest’s 7th ranked prospect for the Washington Class of 2017.
Four BBNW alumni are the best of the new Titans. Hunter Jenkins should hit in the middle of the order. Mason Fritsch can play all 3 infield spots. Sam Lauderdale transfers in from Washington State; he was the #5 ranked prospect for the Washington Class of 2018. Alex Miller is a left-handed pitcher with upside who will challenge for a rotation spot.
Since 2013, Tacoma CC has sent the most players to D1 programs out of all the Northwest junior colleges.
De La Cruz, Johnson, and Trujillo have received interest from pro scouts.
Tacoma opens up in Bellingham vs. Skagit Valley College February 22-23. The home opener at Minnitti Field is March 8th with Bellevue College coming to town. Another match-up with Everett CC at home on March 20th and a Mt. Hood CC visit March 21st will conclude the pre-conference schedule. The West Region schedules begins at home vs. Pierce College March 28th. The key set of West Region games will be against Lower Columbia May 2-3. The series may determine the West #1 seed in the NWAC Tournament. Go Titans!
Top Prospects, previously ranked by Baseball Northwest:
Washington Class of 2017: #7 Mason De La Cruz
Washington Class of 2018: #5 Sam Lauderdale
Class of 2020 Northwest players committed to Tacoma:
Zach Smith, Eatonville HS
Seti Manase, Graham Kapowsin HS
Jackson Van De Brake, West Valley HS
Trent Buchanan, Peninsula HS
Kyler Johnson, Puyallup HS
Connor Ellingson, Puyallup HS
Brady Houston, Decatur HS
James Spickelmier, Kentwood HS
Ethan Floodstrom, Port Angeles HS
Spencer Sugg, Decatur HS
Abiel Gonzalez, Federal Way HS
Cade Crist, Thurston HS
BBNW Alumni on Roster: 17