Zillah Baseball Set to Deliver Statement 2018 Season
Zillah might be known as a basketball town, Zillah High School's head baseball coach Matt Brown is ready to get his program into the spotlight.
"We've got a strong group of guys coming back this year," said Coach Brown, "The success of Zillah athletics is really what sets the bar for what we want out of our baseball program."
Having lost in the state quarterfinals two years in a row, Zillah baseball is hungry to get over the hump.
Six of nine starters will return from last year's squad, and the heartbeat of this team lies in senior catcher Drew Van Kemseke.
Van Kemseke has been a franchise piece for Zillah since 2015, having collected an astounding three first team all-conference awards during that time.
On top of his catching duties, Van Kemseke is also projected to be Zillah's opening day starter.
Returning at first base will be Brian Cahoun. Cahoun had a monster sophomore campaign, hitting .348 with 27 RBI, en route to all-conference honors.
"He's got a lot of power," said teammate Kamren Hathaway, "good defensively too, he'll probably fill the clean-up role for us."
Stacking up Zillah's middle infield is projected to be senior Eric Greene at second base, and sophomore Ben Kibbe at shortstop.
Eric Greene is entering his third year as a starter, and has been dubbed one of Zillah's most consistent players. He had particularly high praise for his new double-play partner Kibbe.
"Ben is real smooth in the field. He's got a good bat and we'll need him to pitch as well; he's going to be doing it all for us."
Holding down third base will be returning all-league starter Kamren Hathaway. Built in the same mold as Brian Cahoun (both are listed at 5-11 225lb), Hathwaway will give Zillah another power bat in the middle of the order.
Lining up the outfield will be junior Kobe Nishi and sophomore Lane Demron in the corner spots, with Kaden Magana patrolling centerfield.
Both Nishi and Magana are returning players. Magana swatted .381 with 17 RBI, while Nishi chipped in .286 across 35 at-bats in spot duty.
"Kobe is definetely a slappy single type hitter, and Kaden can can make circus catches out there, "said Van Kemseke, "Lane may be the fastest on the team, expect a lot of stolen bases out of him."
Ben Kippe will take starts behind Drew Vankemeseke in the rotation, with Eric Greene as the first arm coming out of the bullpen.
With two-thirds of Zillah's roster returning from last year, it'd be easy to assume Zillah is the consensus favorite in the SCAC.
But it might not be that simple. Perhaps their biggest rival, Naches Valley, will also be returning seven starters.
When asked where he felt his team stacked up with the rest of the conference, Coach Brown had articulate words.
"The thing about the SCAC is a lot of these schools are baseball driven," said Coach Brown, "I've known the head coach over at Naches Valley for a long time (Jake Fife), and we have similar styles. Cle-Elum, La Salle, they're all great baseball teams, and that's going to make for a highly competitive division."