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Pips At Top Of WCL All-Star Team Selections

Courtesy: Yakima Valley Pippins
Courtesy: Yakima Valley Pippins

Six Yakima Valley players will represent the Pippins next week at the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game, as more than 40 of the league’s top prospects will come to Yakima County Stadium on July 17-18.

The Pippins host this year’s event, with the All-Star Fan Fest, including the Home Run Derby presented by Wildhorse Casino, and the All-Star Concert — featuring performer Aaron Crawford — sponsored by Regional Health and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, on Monday, July 17. Tickets cost $20 for the Fan Fest.

Steve Sordahl (St. Martin’s), Dillon Plew (Washington State), Mitch Ellis (Western Illinois), Lucas Denney (Seattle U), Daniel Cope (Cal State Fullerton) and Connor White (Portland) have all been selected to represent the WCL South Division in the All-Star Game, which will be held Tuesday, July 18, at Yakima County Stadium, the league announced Monday.

The game begins at 7:05 p.m., and will include an appearance by the Mariner Moose. Postgame fireworks will cap the evening. Ticket prices start at $7.

Sordahl is currently hitting .324 with two home runs and is tied for second on the team with 18 RBI. He is also tied for the team lead with nine multi-hit games and had both an eight-game and nine-game hitting streak in the first half of the season. In addition, from June 27 to July 2, Sordahl produced five consecutive multi-hit outings. The Kennewick native has played in 25 games, 23 of which he has started in center field, where he has provided consistently stellar defense.

A rising senior at Division II Saint Martin’s University, Sordahl had a breakout junior campaign after previously attending Walla Walla Community College. He played and started in 42 games in center field, and ranked second on the team with a .348 batting average and 23 runs batted in, while leading the team with 55 hits, en route to being named second team All-Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC). Sordahl was also recognized for his defensive efforts in the outfield while at Walla Walla CC in 2016 as a recipient of the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

After an impressive freshman campaign with Washington State, Plew has excelled in Yakima, ranking second on the team thus far with a .327 batting average over the course of his 26 starts. Plew is also tied for the team lead with three home runs and he is tied for second on the team with 18 RBI. Plew became the first Pippins player to be recognized as the WCL Player of the Week on July 2, when over the course of the seven day stretch, he batted .481 (13 for 27), which included his hitting a pair of home runs and driving in ten runs. Plew leads the team with six multi-RBI outings and 26 runs scored and is also tied for the team lead with nine multi-hit games. A left-handed hitter, Plew also holds the distinction of being the only Pippins batter to produce a four-hit game, which he did on June 29 against Bend.

As a freshman in Pullman, Plew started in 49 of the 52 games he appeared in at multiple infield positions, something he has also become accustomed to doing with the Pippins, where he has played first, second and third base. The Kennewick native batted .293 with two home runs and 14 RBI for the Cougars while also finishing in a tie for the team lead with 28 walks. A confident hitter and smart baserunner, Plew ranked second on the team with both a .399 on-base clip and 31 runs scored.

A switch-hitter who is heading into his senior year at Western Illinois, Ellis has been a consistent source of production in the Pippins lineup. While leading the team with 27 starts, the Diamond Creek, Australia native is hitting .297 with six doubles and a team- high 19 runs batted in. Ellis, who began his WCL campaign by hitting safely in the Pippins’ first 13 games of the season, also produced the Pippins’ signature first half moment when on July 2, he ripped a bases clearing walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Pippins a 14-13 comeback win over the Kelowna Falcons.

After a stellar two year run with Heartland Community College, Ellis had no trouble adjusting to Division I pitching in the Summit League with the Leathernecks, as he started in 49 games and ranked third on the team with a .310 average in his junior campaign, which included a home run and 17 runs batted in. Ellis also hit .354 in conference play and earned Summit League Player of the Week honors on April 10.

After utilizing a medical redshirt this past season while recovering from a leg injury, Denney has been a force in the Pippins lineup since his debut on June 12. The powerful left-handed hitter has started in 21 games and currently leads the team hitting at a .343 clip while also sitting tied for the team lead with three home runs, including two in a three game stretch against Gresham from June 24 to 26. His signature first half moment came on the 26th, when he drilled a three-run go-ahead home run in the top of the tenth inning to propel the Pippins to a 10-6 road victory over the GreyWolves. A native of nearby Goldendale, Denney also leads the team with eight doubles and has driven in 13 runs.

After being named to the All-NWAC First Team as a sophomore at Spokane Falls CC, Denney arrived at Seattle University and did not miss a beat in his junior season in 2016, appearing in 52 games while making 41 starts, while hitting .277 with four home runs and 22 RBI. He was also named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Tournament team for his stellar postseason play.

Since arriving in Yakima, Cope is hitting .250 with a double and three runs batted in. Cope gave the Pippins an initial boost with a multi-hit game in his debut on June 27 and he has now started eight games behind the dish.

After a stellar career behind the plate at Mt. Carmel High School, in which he was named to the All-Conference team as a junior and senior and was recognized as a Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American, Cope was part of a sensational Fullerton team this past year that made their 18th appearance in the College World Series. As a freshman, Cope caught behind Chris Hudgins, who was taken in the 16th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Despite appearing in just 19 games with six starts in his first year with the Titans, Cope made the most of his opportunities, hitting .276 (8 for 29) with a home run and two RBI while also throwing out five of 12 baserunners.

A two-way player as a catcher and hard-throwing reliever, White, who is headed to the University of Portland in the fall after spending his first two years at Columbia Basin College, has appeared in a team-high 12 games for the Pippins, which ranks as the fifth most in the WCL. He currently holds a 2.31 ERA in 11 2/3 innings of work with 17 strikeouts and just six walks while hitters are batting a meager .214 against him. The Woodinville native picked up his fourth save when he threw a scoreless ninth inning in the Pippins’ 7-5 win over Cowlitz on Saturday, with the four saves tying for the third most in the WCL. White has also started eight games behind the plate for the Pippins, and has collected three doubles while driving in four runs in 33 at-bats.

As a reliever with Columbia Basin, White was 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA while collecting 17 strikeouts against eight walks as a sophomore. He also caught 30 games for the Hawks and hit .265 with a home run and 19 runs batted in while also ranking third on the team with 20 walks. His main weapon, however, was his ability to throw out baserunners, which he did at an impressive 32 percent clip (15 for 47).

Former Seattle Mariners third baseman Jeff Cirillo, a two-time MLB All-Star third baseman who played 14 years in the big leagues, will be the keynote speaker for the All-Star Game luncheon, which will be held in the State Fair Room of the Yakima Valley SunDome, beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 18. Tickets for the luncheon, co-sponsored by PNWU and Best Western Plus Ahtanum Inn – the official hotel of Pippins Baseball – cost $30 and include a buffet lunch. Tickets can be purchased from Hunky Shaw’s Team Shop, 12 S. Second St. in the historic Larson Building in downtown Yakima, or by phone at 509-575-4487.

The All-Star Game, presented by the Yakima Valley Traffic Safety Taskforce, takes place Tuesday, July 18, and will include more than 40 of the league’s hottest players in the summer in addition to up-and-coming collegiate prospects. Game time is 7:05 p.m. A return appearance by the Mariner Moose and postgame fireworks are also scheduled. Tickets for the game cost $10 for Stadium Select (reserved) seats, $8 for Stadium View (bleacher-back) and $7 for General Admission and can be purchased at Hunky Shaw’s, by phone at 509-575-4487, online at PippinsBaseball.com or at the stadium box office.

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