Lower Columbia tries to defend title

05/26/2011 09:40

By Ryan Kostecka May 26, 2011

This year’s annual championship tournament in Longview, Wash., which will take place from today until May 31, looks to provide plenty of thrills and excitement as eight teams are vying to reach the goal they set out at the beginning of each year-to be crowned champions of the NWAACC.

The teams in this year’s tourney are: Everett Community College, Bellevue College, Yakima Valley Community College, Columbia Basin College, Pierce College, Lower Columbia College, Mt. Hood Community College and Lane Community College.

The pre-tourney favorites are both teams from the north region, Everett and Bellevue. Both teams have different strengths that play for them with Everett focusing on defense and timely hitting, while Bellevue leads all of the NWAACC in homeruns (49) and doubles (85).
LCC comes in with the lowest team ERA in the NWAACC at 2.26.
“The strongest part of our game would have to be small ball. Bunting, running, and timely hitting is what will lead us through the tourney,” Assistant coach Jeff Lyle said.

The championship tournament is a double elimination format with each team guaranteed two games through Friday.
The tourney gets underway May 26 with the Titans taking on Everett in the tourney opener at 9:35 a.m.

Everett (34-9, 20-4 North Region):
Sophomore pitcher Ty Holm leads Everett on the mound with a record of 9-1 and an ERA of 2.26. Sophomore Nate Mullins leads the Trojans in batting with a .370 average and 31 RBIs. Freshman pitcher Alex Shaffer leads the team with five saves to go along with a 4-1 record.

Bellevue (33-13, 21-3 North Region):
Bellevue has the most powerful offense in the NWAACC with a team batting average of .303 and slugging percentage of .478. The Bulldogs are led by power swinging sophomores Kyle Johnson and Kyle Conwell. Johnson has a team leading nine homeruns to go along with 32 RBIs. Conwell leads the team in batting with a .397 average and 38 RBIs.

Yakima Valley (32-10, 22-6 East Region):
Yakima Valley is led on the mound by sophomore pitchers Derek Whelton and Steven Schoonover. Whelton posts a team best 7-2 record with a 4.19 ERA while his classmate Schoonover has a 6-1 record and 3.27 ERA. The Yaks sophomore outfielder Trevor Dallman leads the team with a .360 average and .466 on-base percentage.

Columbia Basin (32-14, 22-6 East Region):
Sophomore pitchers Taylor Nicholson and Kody Young lead Columbia Basin on the mound. Nicholson leads all starting pitchers in the NWAACC with an ERA of .69 while posting a record of 6-1. Young is tied for second with an ERA of 1.19 and a record of 7-0. At the plate, the Hawks are led by sophomore McKenzie Acker who boasts a .380 batting average and team leading 35 RBI’s.

Pierce (31-7, 20-4 West Region):
Pierce enjoyed its best season in school history and set records in wins for both region and overall play. They are led on the mound by sophomore pitchers Drew Staples and Andrew Jacobsen. Both boast seven wins on the year with Staples at a 2.96 ERA and Jacobsen at a 1.82 ERA. Freshman Brian Corliss has been the top hitter for the Raiders with a .410 batting average and a .512 on base percentage, tops in the NWAACC.

Lower Columbia (32-10, 18-6 West Region):
Lower Columbia looks to make it a repeat of last year when they defeated LCC in the championship game of the NWAACC tourney.
Sophomore pitcher Stuart Fewel leads Lower Columbia on the bump with an 8-1 record and an ERA of 1.19. Sophomore Ben McQuown leads the Red Devils at the plate with a .402 batting average and 11 stolen bases, both of which are team highs.

Mt. Hood (26-11, 22-8 South Region):
Mt. Hood is led by sophomore Jeremy Burright on the mound. Burright has a team leading 6-1 record and 1.61 ERA. Also, freshman pitcher Christian Bannister is the top relief pitcher in the NWAACC, earning 14 saves and hasn’t allowed a run. Freshman Mychal Harrington leads the Saints at the plate, posting a .367 batting average and team leading 30 runs and 11 doubles.

LCC (24-18, 19-11 South Region):
LCC is led by sophomore pitchers Nick Phillips and John Linscott. Phillips is the only returning All-NWAACC performer for the Titans and has a record of 4-1 with an ERA of 2.80 and three saves. Linscott leads the team with a 5-4 record and 1.81 ERA. He also leads the NWAACC in innings thrown, amassing 79 innings on the year.
“NWAACCs is all about pitching and I think we have four great starters who could throw and win in the tournament,” Linscott said. “Back that pitching up with our offense and I’d say we are in great position to make at run at the championship.”

The Titans will be led by sophomore first basemen Darrell Hunter at the plate. He leads in nearly every offensive category with a .336 batting average, 45 hits, nine homeruns, and 34 RBIs. The Titans are very strong defensively up the middle also, led by freshman catcher Jordyn Van Atta, sophomore’s second baseman Joe Offer, shortstop Matt Myrmo and centerfielder Jimmy Sanchez.

“We are feeling good right now. We are just taking it like every other game we’ve had this season and trying to stay in the moment,” Van Atta said.