Central 2B League Teams Reload for 2018 Baseball Season
By Matt Baide
The Central 2B League is always strong in baseball, and this season shouldn’t be any different, although the playing field may be more level this year than it has in previous seasons.
Last season was the first time since 2012 that a Central 2B League team wasn’t in the state championship. Napavine and Wahkiakum were both in the semifinals, but both lost and met in the third place game, won by the Mules 14-8.
The Tigers are hoping to get back to the state playoffs once again, but it won’t be easy. Napavine lost seniors Mac Fagerness, Mason Butler, Sam Fagerness and Wyatt Stanley, all of whom played a significant role in the fourth-place finish last season.
“Real tough, those are guys that pretty much started every game of their high school career. We didn’t have a lot of depth last year,” Napavine coach Brian Demarest said. “We replace them with freshman and sophomores that haven’t had a lot of playing time. We’ll go through some growing pains, but I think we’ll be OK when it all kind of shakes out.”
The team does have some young players coming up that will be hoping to fill the void in freshman Levi Gates and Laythan Demarest and sophomore Landon Dahl.
“We expect big things from our young kids,” Demarest said. “They’ve played a lot of baseball and been on summer teams since they were 9 years old.”
The team Napavine beat to get to Ed Wheeler Field for the semifinals was rival Adna. Adna lost some key players including Spencer Burdick and Isaac Ingle, but has plenty of experience coming back in Cody Young, Sawyer Burdick, Conner Weed, Elmer Loose and Cole Fay.
“We have a team that is interesting because there’s a lot of depth and there’s a lot of kids sharing in the leadership,” Adna coach Jon Rooklidge said. “…We’ve just got a nice group of kids that like each other and get along and they work hard. We hope that offsets for the kids that we’ve graduated.”
Adna finished third in the league last season with a 13-3 league record and defeated Kalama in the opening game of regionals before falling to Napavine in the regional final in Adna.
“I think our kids expect to win. We were right there,” Rooklidge said. “Baseball is a game, it can just go any way. It’s hard at the point when you get to the regionals. Everybody is a good team.”
The most recent C2BL team to win the state title was the Toledo Indians in 2016. Toledo has some players that have played a lot of baseball including Gannon Madill and Cody Towns.
The Indians brought back Conner Vermilyea, a member of the 2016 state championship team, as an assistant coach to bring some championship experience to the coaching staff. The Indians claimed the final spot into the district tournament before being eliminated by Wahkiakum in a 1-0 game. Toledo has a lot of youth that will be looking to prove themselves against a tough league schedule.
The team Toledo faced in that 2016 state championship was Pe Ell-Willapa Valley. There are some players from that team including Cub Bair and Frank Roonsburg. The Titans also have experience coming back with Keyton Barnum, Tyson Nissell, Ryon Ashley, Donnie Ward, Max Smith and Luke Gerow.
The Titans finished seventh in league and made it to regionals last season before being eliminated by Tri-Cities Prep.
Missing the district championship by one game last season was the Winlock Cardinals. Winlock graduated several seniors last season but does bring back some experience in Tyler Cook, Anthony Clevenger, Coleson Richendollar and Nathan Suhbier.
Jordan Nailon is now the head coach for the Cardinals after being an assistant to Scott Weinert the last two seasons. Nailon is hoping to cultivate the youth on the team to help the Cardinals succeed this season as well as into the future.
There were three C2BL teams that finished at the bottom of the league last season that will be looking to climb the ladder in league this season. Onalaska finished 10th in the league, but has a lot of optimism coming into this season.
The Loggers have some players that got a lot of experience as underclassmen, including AJ Volk, Cody Cooper, Ashton Haight, Mathew Kurzeika and Kyle Hamilton.
Mossyrock finished 11th last season, winning just two games during league play. The Vikings have experienced players coming back including Kord Senter, Nick Fried, Aaron King, Evan Gootgeld, JC Workman, Rem Stanley and Brennan Shriver.
The Vikings hope the experience the squad brings back can help lift them into a district playoff spot this season.
“This will be a learning process for us. It’s all about getting better,” Mossyrock coach Jay Henderson said. “we faced two good teams to start the season. Our league is very unforgiving, there is a reason we always have a team in the final.”
Morton-White Pass had a down season last year, but has reason to excited about this season. The Timberwolves experienced players include Kaleb Rashoff, Kade Gillispie, Dylan Pelletier and Gavyn Higdon.
There will be tough competition for these teams from the rest of the league. Wahkiakum finished third last season and returns the three-headed monster on the mound of Zach Brown, Hank Ferguson and Terris Record.
Toutle Lake finished fourth in the league last season and returns one of the best pitchers in the league in Zach Vetter.
Kalama and Rainier finished fifth and sixth respectively last season and both look primed for another run in the district tournament and berth in the state playoffs.
With the amount of pitching, bats and experience in the C2BL this season, it’s hard to imagine the league being shut out from the state championship game for a second straight season.
Coach: Jon Rooklidge (fourth)
2017: 17-6 (lost in state quarterfinals)
Returning Starters: Sawyer Burdick (Jr., P/IF), Conner Weed (Sr., P/SS), Cody Young (Sr., OF), Chance Fay (Jr., IF), Elmer Loose (Jr., OF), Camden Ryan (Jr., P/IF)
Morton-White Pass Timberwolves
Coach: Lee Metcalf (first)
Returning Starters: Kaleb Rashoff (Jr., P/IF), Kade Gillispie (Sr., P/IF), Dylan Pelletier (Jr., OF), Gavyn Higdon (Jr., OF/C), Diego Soto (Jr., P/IF)
Coach: Jay Henderson (second)
Returning Starters: Kord Senter (Sr., C), Nick Fried (Jr., IF), Aaron King (Jr., IF), Evan Gootgeld (So., P), JC Workman (So., IF/OF), Rem Stanley (Sr., P), Brennan Shriver (Jr., P/IF)
Coach: Brian Demarest (fourth)
2017: 19-5 (fourth in state)
Returning Starters: Garret Shannon (Sr., P/OF), Seth Butler (Jr., IF), Dawson Stanley (Jr., C), Ben Woodrum (Sr., P/1B)
Coach: Rocky Stanley (third)
Returning Starters: AJ Volk (Jr., P/IF), Cody Cooper (Jr., P/IF/OF), Ashton Haight (So., P/C), Matt Kurzeika (Jr., P/IF), Kyle Hamilton (Jr., OF)
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley
Coach: Kelly Barnum (second)
2017: 13-15 (lost in regionals)
Returning Starters: Cub Bair (Sr., P/C), Keyton Barnum (Sr., IF/OF), Tyson Nissell (Sr., OF), Ryon Ashley (Sr., IF/C), Donnie Ward (Jr., IF/P), Frank Roonsburg (Jr., SS), Max Smith (So, IF), Luke Gerow (So, 1B)
Coach: Jeff Davis (fourth)
2017: 6-14 (lost in districts)
Returning Starters: Gannon Madill (Sr., IF), Kyle Bauter (Sr., P/IF), Cody Towns (Sr., DH), Tommy Kinsman (Sr., IF), Dawson Marcil (Sr., IF/OF)
Coach/Year Coaching: Jeff Davis
Coach: Jordan Nailon (first)
Returning Starters: Tyler Cook (Sr., P/IF), Anthony Clevenger (Jr., IF/P), Coleson Richendollar (So., P/IF), Nathan Suhrbier (So., OF)
Preseason Coaches Poll
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley