After years of power being spread out in the 2A baseball world, District 4 took complete control last season, landing three teams in the state semifinals, and having a district matchup in the title game for just the fourth time since 2000, with Tumwater walking off dramatic champions over Columbia River in Yakima.
Now, it’s up to the top teams in the 2A EvCo — and the GSHL down south — to keep it here.
The Thunderbirds, state trophy in hand, will hope it’s a matter of reloading instead of rebuilding, with a bit of a different focus in roster composition. Last season, Tumwater baffled opposing batters with three legitimate aces, but now Ryan Orr (Washington State), Blake Smith (Seattle U), and Jordan Hanson (UNLV) are all off pitching in college, leaving a few holes in the staff. This time around, Lyle Overbay has turned to Johnny All-Staff early, with 11 different T-Birds getting on the mound in their first four games.
Things are clearer in the infield, with Alex Overbay (UNLV) and Brayden Oram (LCC) anchoring leading the way on the dirt and at the plate, combining for three home runs already.
In Chehalis, W.F. West may have arrived a year early last season, upsetting its way to the state semifinals, falling there to Tumwater, and downing Ellensburg for third place. This year, the Bearcats have a new coach in Jesse Elam, but return just about all of their pieces.
Elam won’t have to look far for pitching, with LCC commit Hunter Lutman leading the way, Riggs Westlund, Waylen Land, Connor Coleman, and Miles Martin giving the staff depth, and Gavin Fugate available to shut the door out of the bullpen.
Going back up I-5, Rochester is in a similar position as W.F. West, with a whole lot coming back. Reigning All-Area MVP Braden Hartley might have surprised a few lineups last year, but that certainly won’t happen again. The real question for the Warriors will be what they can put together behind him, both on the mound and in the lineup. Early signs look promising, with Henry Gramelspacher and Hyde Parrish flashing some power with the bat, and Parrish and Jyson O’Connor giving Rochester solid outings in an early win over R.A. Long.
Across the freeway from Tumwater, Black Hills brings back all four of its all-league selections from last year in Xander Shepler, Parker Termini, Joseph Floyd, and Braiden Bond. Those four make up half of a solid squad heavy on experience, and if Black Hills can limit the mistakes, it’ll be in a good position to get back into the district tournament.
In Centralia, the Tigers find themselves in a similar spot to their other boys’ teams: young and in a bit of flux. Moshie Eport-Tartios is back as a senior after earning second-team all-league honors last season, as is junior Landen Jenkins. Carlos Vallejo gives the batting order some pop, and in a stacked league like the EvCo, ignore Centralia — with Jake LeDuc back in the Hub City at the helm — at your peril.
The same goes for Shelton — which snuck into the state tournament last year — and Aberdeen. There won’t be any easy days this season in the 2A EvCo.
Coach: Jake LeDuc (first)
2022 record: 5-12
Player(s) to watch: Moshie Eport, Brady Sprague, Landen Jenkins
Coach: Jesse Elam (first)
2022 record: 20-7 (third at state)
Player(s) to watch: Gavin Fugate, Braden Jones, Riggs Westlund
Coach: Brad Quarnstrom (eighth)
2022 record: 10-11 (district pigtail)
Player(s) to watch: Braden Hartley, Hyde Parrish, Hayden Pietras
Coach: Lyle Overbay (fourth)
2022 record: 21-6 (state champions)
Player(s) to watch: Alex Overbay, Brayden Oram, Kyler Collier
Coach: Todd Venable (ninth)
2022 record: 11-11
Player(s) to watch: Braiden Bond, Mark Otto, Xander Shepler