Columbia Basin College has had it's share of success in the NWAACC East, and it's a good bet the Hawks will be in the thick of the race for another division championship.
This year, however, that might not be so easy. Here's a preview of CBC's competition in the NWAACC East:
Walla Walla (30-16, 18-10): The Warriors, who open at Spokane, have won three in a row and eight of 10 heading into East play. Just like last season, they are hitting well -- .301 batting average and 7.3 runs per game -- and right in the middle of that are a pair of freshman from Richland and a sophomore from Burbank. Versatile fielder Cody Poznanski (.370 in 54 AB, 8 RBI, 14 R, 2 2B, 3B) and catcher Jarrod Turner (.364 in 44 AB, 8 RBI, 11 R) are off to hot starts in their first season out of Bomber green and gold. Neal Schuck, a middle infielder, his hitting .305 (18-for-59) with 8 RBI, 15 runs and four doubles. A pair of Walla Walla pitchers are paying dividends in their freshmen seasons: Drew Christina (4-0, 2.86 ERA in 22 IP, 15H, 10BB, 22K, 3 starts in 5 games) and Jake Campeau (1-2, 4.43 ERA in 201/2 IP, 29 H, 5 BB, 10 K, 3 starts in 4 games). Wa-Hi freshman Connor Holbrook (.179 in 28 ABs) has shared time with Turner behind the plate, while former Blue Devils Brett Christina and Ryan James have seen spot duty. Three more Mid-Columbia products -- Wa-Hi's Kevin Toon and Richland's Boone Myers and Kenton Brunson -- also are on the roster.
Big Bend (22-22, 13-15 East in 2011): The Vikings are off to a great start (11-1) primarily because of two things: pitching, and a week schedule (Green River and Canadian clubs Thompson Rivers and Vancouver Island are a combined 13-35). Naches freshman Cody Johns (3-0, 0.00 ERA in 20 IP, 12 K, 0 BB, 10 H) has thrown three complete games to head a staff with an overall ERA of 2.75. Richland freshman Syd Hall is the closer, with four saves and a 1.29 ERA in seven innings. Sophomore outfielder Ricco Moreno (Moses Lake) is hitting .300 with four homers and 10 RBIs. Freshman catcher Matt Noyola (.167 in 18 AB) is seeing time, while Othello's Conor Hamilton and Moses Lake's Josh Martinez, Kody Samuels, Brett Lopez and Nick Dodds are on the roster.
Blue Mountain (7-33, 1-25): The Timberwolves have a solid set of starting pitchers, led by Pendleton's James Caldwell (1-2, 2.57 ERA, 28 IP, 27 K), Troutdale, Ore.'s Cody Pollack (0-3, 2.89 ERA, 28 IP, 19 K) and Stanfield, Ore.'s Quinton Grogan (2-1, 2.93 ERA, 272/3 IP, 23 K). But they're hitting .216 and averaging 3.2 runs a game. Sophomore infielder Brian Bowe (Southridge, .231, 39 AB, 6 RBI) is fifth among regulars in hitting, and freshman catcher Gunnar Morby (Southridge, .216 in 51 AB) is getting consistent playing time. Hermiston's Corleone Lewis also is on the roster.
Spokane (20-24, 10-18): Southridge freshman outfielder Oz Bartleson is off to a strong start for the Sasquatch, hitting .284 (46 ABs). He leads the team in walks (10) and is tied for the lead in RBIs (11) and runs (12). Spokane is hitting .279 as a team but has one of the hottest hitters in the NWAACC in freshman outfielder Trevor LaHonta (Walnut Creek, Calif.), who has a blistering .491 average in 15 games (27-for-55) with three doubles but just eight RBIs and 12 runs. On the mound, sophomore D.J. Smith (Ellensburg) has been tough to hit with a 3.67 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings. Kennewick's James McKinnis also is on the roster for Spokane, winners of five straight.
Treasure Valley (34-12, 18-10): The Chukars come into East play having just snapped a five-game losing skid. Pitching has been the story so far, with freshman Sam Olson (2-0, 0.46 ERA, 192/3 IP, 15 H, 9 K) and sophomore Alex Jones (2-1, 0.95 ERA, 19 IP, 14 H, 10 K) leading a staff with a team ERA of 3.35. At the plate, freshman infielder Ryan Wright (.310, 42 AB) as been the most consistent hitter. The La Grande, Ore., school is the only one in the East with no Mid-Columbia players on the roster.
Wenatchee Valley (7-26, 6-20): The Knights already have topped their win total from last season under interim coach and Kamiakin grad Dustin Willis. Indeed, Wenatchee Valley could be tabbed Kamiakin North, after Willis recruited six players from the Braves' team that placed fourth in state last year. Only shortstop AJ Griffiths (.217, 6 R, 2 RBI) and outfielder Justin Berneski (.147) have gotten regular time in the field, and Bryce Drury has been roughed up (11.12 ERA) in his three starts. WVC's top hitter has been sophomore catcher Shon Valdez (Othello) with a .353 average. Moses Lake's Mitch Yada has a 6.52 ERA in two starts (92/3 IP). Kamiakin's Joey Flores, Blake Raekes and Devan Willis, and Moses Lake's Luke Valdez and Nate Steffler also are on the roster.
Yakima Valley (32-12, 22-6): The other East team that accompanied CBC to the NWAACC championships (did not place), the Yaks have won eight of 10, with a pair of lopsided losses to defending NWAACC champion Bellevue the only blemishes since March 10. YVC has been impressive at the plate, with two everyday players hitting better than .350 -- Reid Martinez (Roosevelt, .382, 21-for-55, 3 2B, 8 RBI, 7R) and J.R. Weigel (Naches, .365, 19-for-52, 6 2B, 8 RBI, 16R). Freshman catcher Dyllon Smith (Columbia-Burbank) is off to a solid start hitting .265 (13-for-49). Richland sophomore Hayden Hilty (.125, 2-for-16) is still trying to find his stride. DeSales pitcher Victor Mata also is on the roster.