Brent Wyatt is going to play the players who he believes will give Columbia Basin College the best chance to win.
On the mound, that means freshman Hunter French.
The right-handed pitcher from Richland High School did not disappoint, posting a 10-1 record with a 1.82 ERA this season. He scattered 65 hits over 79 innings of work, struck out 49 and walked 14. He allowed 16 earned runs.
“He had a great year,” Wyatt said. “That was all Hunter going out and really competing every pitch. It’s all a mindset and working your tail off.”
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Praise from your coach is one thing, but French’s work on the mound earned him a mitt full of postseason honors, starting with an East Region first-team nod as a pitcher. He also was a first-team pick for the All-NWAC team.
He then picked up first-team accolades as an ABCA/Rawlings Pacific Association Northwest Division All-Region pitcher, and was named the Northwest Division Pitcher of the Year.
The final prize of the season was being named an ABCA/Rawlings second-team All-American.
“It’s been a nice year,” French said. “I accomplished a lot. Being an All-American, I wasn’t expecting that. It takes hard work, and it’s nice to have a team who can supply the runs to stay head of the other team.”
The Hawks (35-15 overall) won the East Region title with a 19-9 record. They qualified for the NWAC Tournament, where they finished 1-2. The win came in their opening game — a 2-1 win over Tacoma with French on the mound.
“The coach believed in me,” French said. “He put a lot of trust in me, a freshman, not many coaches will do that. He is a great guy. It was nice to take the team there (NWAC tournament).”
While French’s teammates admire what he’s done on the field, it’s the work he puts in behind the scenes that has made him successful.
“I have a pitching mound in the back yard, and that has helped a lot,” French said. “I put in a lot of time when no one is looking. (CBC assistant coach) Matt Minnich, who is a family friend, has been working with me the past 3 1/2 years. We have been working on my mechanics.”
French is playing summer ball for the River City Athletics U19 team, but is taking a couple of weeks off before getting back on the mound.
▪ Yakima Valley pitcher Gerald Hein (Kennewick) was named to the ABCA/Rawlings Pacific Association Northwest Division All-Region first team, and was an East Region first-team selection. He also was a first-team pick for the All-NWAC team.
Hein finished the season 7-3 with a 2.55 ERA. He had 86 strikeouts and issued 33 walks in 81 innings of work.