The West Coast Collegiate Baseball League -- dubbed the WCL -- is one of at least 39 summer collegiate baseball leagues.
The summer leagues provide college players a taste of the minor-league life, with games scheduled almost daily during a two-month season.
The leagues also offer a crash course in wood-bat baseball, forcing hitters to adjust their approach and giving pitchers an edge they don't have during the college season.
Grant Richardson, the former Richland star who played four years of pro ball, said the experience of summer baseball is invaluable.
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Richardson played with the Bellingham Bells in 2002 in the Pacific International League, which split and formed the WCL, and in Calgary in 2003 before being drafted by the Brewers the following summer.
"It's the first experience with a wood bat, and that's kind of a step that some guys have success with and can hit with wood bats, and some guys can't," he said. "The guys who can't, they might lose $500,000 overnight."
That's because wood bats, used at all levels of professional baseball, sift the truly good hitters from those whose averages and power were inflated by aluminum.
The premier summer college league is the Cape Cod League, the backdrop for the movie Summer Catch.
Former Southridge standout Andrew Mendenhall, fresh of his freshman year at Oregon, is playing for the Rochester (Minn.) Honkers in the Northwoods League.
Ex-Richland star Brett Jacobs followed some of his Washington State University teammates to the New England Collegiate Baseball League and is playing for the Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats.
There's plenty of Tri-Cities talent playing in the WCL:
* Jamison Rowe (Richland) is with the Cowlitz Black Bears
* Maxx Garrett (Kamiakin, CBC) plays for the Wenatchee AppleSox
* Josh Rapacz (Richland) and Eric Yardley (Richland) are on the Moses Lake Pirates
* Kody Young (Kamiakin) is at Walla Walla.