PASCO -- The Columbia Basin College softball team opens East Region play with road doubleheaders today against Yakima Valley and Saturday against Wenatchee Valley.
Before the season, first-year CBC head coach Adrian Ochoa said his team wanted to finish in the top four in the East Region.
Last year, the Hawks tied for third with Spokane in the East Region at 18-10, then lost to Bellevue in the first round of the NWAACC tournament, finishing the season 27-16 overall.
Five-time reigning East Region champion Wenatchee Valley (8-0) and Walla Walla (8-3) likely will battle again for the East's top two spots. Both teams romped over CBC after the Hawks began this season on a four-game winning streak.
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CBC (7-5) does have a quality victory to its credit, beating two-time defending NWAACC champion Mt. Hood at a tournament in Richland.
Former Connell High School standout Debbie Molsbarger has provided power at the plate for the Hawks. As of Thursday, Molsbarger led the NWAACC in batting average (.733) and was tied for second in RBIs (13). She and teammate Chani Brisby (River View) each have three home runs.
In the circle, Kennewick High School graduate Taylor Bakos (2-1, two saves) has struck out 16 and walked three over 20 innings. Her 1.40 ERA ranked ninth best in the NWAACC.
The Hawks begin their East Region home slate next Friday against Spokane.
Around the NWAACC East:
* Wenatchee Valley (2010 records -- 38-9 overall, 23-5 East Region): WVC, which lost to Mt. Hood in the second round of last year's NWAACC tournament, features former Walla Walla High School outfielder Kelsie DeBroeck and three ex-Eastmont players: Chynna Sandhop, a 2010 East Region first-team infielder; catcher Cassi Ellis, who made the East Region second team; and first baseman Sydney Chestnut. Sydnee Jerome, the East Region Pitcher of the Year, returns for the Knights.
* Walla Walla (28-18, 19-9): The Warriors, who lost to Everett in the first round of last year's NWAACC tournament, boast a bounty of familiar faces from the CBBN. Jill McDaniels and Alicia Baker helped Wa-Hi to back-to-back state third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010, and Alexis Bobadilla and Abbey Reardon were on the Blue Devils' '09 squad. Bobadilla had an NWAACC-leading 58 RBIs last season for the Warriors and was named an East Region first-team outfielder. Meanwhile, former Tri-City players Kaylie Winston (Pasco), Katie Martell (Kamiakin) and Courtney Hancock (Southridge) are WWCC freshmen, and outfielder Ramey Chambers (Richland) returns to the Warriors.
* Spokane (24-22, 18-10): Spokane is 3-6 this season, but last year, the Sasquatch started 1-10 and went on to reach the second round of the NWAACC tournament. Spokane has lost four all-East Region players, with first-team outfielder Stephanie Chrystal (Kamiakin) the Sasquatch's lone returning All-Star. First baseman Rachel Antonovich (Pasco) also is back this year.
* Treasure Valley (17-25, 12-16): East Region first-team infielder Tara Talbott, who last year tied Columbia Basin's Debbie Molsbarger with an NWAACC-best 16 home runs, and second-team pitcher Boo Christman are back for the Chukars, 4-5 thus far.
* Blue Mountain (17-26, 10-18): Outfielder/pitcher Ashley Gregerson (Echo) and utilityman Kaylee Heyne (Hermiston) are in their second year with Blue Mountain. Utilityman Chantel Lloyd (Pendleton) is a first-year player for the 2-6 Timberwolves.
* Yakima Valley (14-30, 8-20): Catcher Tori Slobig (Selah), infielder Hollie Thierolf (East Valley) and outfielders Savanna Martinez (Sunnyside) and Danielle Porter (West Valley) are freshmen for YVCC. The Yaks have just four second-year players, including shortstop Hollie Lamb (West Valley), but are 7-4 this season.
* Big Bend (8-36, 4-24): Outfielders Jessica Wald (Ephrata) and Crystal Mertes (Moses Lake), first baseman Ali Hirschi (Kiona-Benton) and shortstop/outfielder Lesa Hearst (Quincy) return for the Vikings, who have started the season 7-3. Outfielder Charlene Lumpkins (Ki-Be) and shortstop Bailey Ritchie (Moses Lake) are new this year.
-- Katie Dorsey: 509-582-1526; firstname.lastname@example.org