SAME PLACE, NEW ROLE: Former CC Baseball Coach Taking Over Fastpitch Team at Adna, Where He’s Taught for 22 Years
By Aaron VanTuyl
Bruce Pocklington’s back in the coaching game — though, to be fair, he never strayed all that far away from the dugout.
Pocklington, who coached the Centralia College baseball team for over a decade, was officially hired Tuesday as Adna High School’s new head softball coach.
Pocklington coached the Trailblazers from 1998 to 2009, leading Centralia to the NWAC tournament in 2004 and 2005. He coached in Adna for three years and Pe Ell for five years prior to taking the head position at the college.
Towards the end of his run with the Blazers, though, he started leaving Ed Wheeler Field and taking the short walk to the Fort Borst Park softball fields, where his oldest daughter, Parker, was playing for Centralia. Before long he was helping out with the Tigers.
“I started doing the fastpitch stuff, and so far it’s paid off,” he said. “It got my girls a pretty good education, and I went and saw some pretty neat places.”
His daughters were both standout infielders for the Tigers. Parker, a 2013 Centralia graduate, recently finished her degree and four-year softball career at the University of Arkansas, while Payton just wrapped her freshman season playing for Eastern Oregon University.
He considered putting in for the Adna job last summer, when former coach Mike Raschke stepped down, but with two daughters playing college ball felt he wouldn’t be able to commit enough time to a head coaching job.
With Parker out of school and Payton playing primarily in the Northwest, though, the time was right.
“It’ll be fun. I’m excited,” he said. “I haven’t coached in the high school ranks for a while.”
He has, though, been plenty involved in the game, coaching his daughters’ select teams in addition to helping the Tigers.
And then there’s the backyard facility. Five years ago he built a 36-by-60-foot shop, laid down turf, hung nets and set up batting cages. He’s been offering hitting lessons ever since, for a few hours after school and on Saturdays in the winter, working with players from the Twin Cities and the local 2B schools as well as players from Olympia, Shelton and Longview, to name a few.
“I’ve been doing it for a while. My wife asks, ‘Are you tired?’ and I am, at time,” he said. “But the joy is going out and watching these kids and seeing how successful they are, and keep coming back. It’s my second classroom — my favorite classroom. Every kid wants to be there.”
He’s also been helping former Centralia head coach Ken Olson with the Fastpitch Northwest program, which wrapped its college exposure tournament on Thursday. They’ll be in opposite dugouts come spring, as Olson’s the head coach of the Pirates’ rival — and defending State 2B champion — Pe Ell-Willapa Valley Titans.
Naturally, he knows plenty about the layout of the Central 2B League, and his new team, which has won three state titles since 2009. Adna, though, went 0-2 at the state tournament in 2017, after first-year head coach Ron Aguirre resigned midway through the season.
The Pirates will return its two main pitchers in Jenikka Poppe and Skye Snow, along with the bulk of its starting lineup. They’ll also bring in an eighth-grade class that Pocklington said is loaded with fastpitch players.
“There’s lots of big shoes to fill, and that’s one of the things we’ll talk about, is it’s their time to prove themselves,” he said. “We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to get after it and get back to where we need to be.”