West Valley Baseball Is A Big Nine Contender
Jackson Van De Brake SS - Jackson comes from a long lineage of quality Van De Brake baseball players. The returning First Team All Leaguer has a compact swing that generated a .338 average last season. Defensively he’s as good as they come at shortstop.
Hayden Groth 1B/P - Groth will be counted on to do it all this year. Whether it’d be pitching deep into games, hitting for power, or playing stellar defense. He had a nice sophomore campaign, swatting .345 and knocking in 11 runs.
Carson Poulson CF/P - He’s going to be replacing three year starting center fielder Spencer Bailey. It’s a tall task, but Poulson played in left field last year which should help his transition. He’s also a burner on the basepaths and should rack up the steals.
The West Valley Rams consistently feature one of the top baseball teams in the entire central Washington region.
It’s a program that’s won 31 of their last 43 games, and this season they’ll be seeking their second state playoff berth in three years.
The Rams graduated their top two workhorse pitchers in Riley Lublin and Spencer Bailey, so it’s been top priority this pre-season to find their replacements.
The good news is they think they have the guys to get the job done. It starts with junior’s Austin Tolliver and Hayden Groth.
Primarily acting as a relief pitcher last year, Tolliver will now take over as a potential go to starter. He leans on a fastball that can touch mid 80s, while working in a slider to get outs.
Groth is a far different style pitcher than his counterpart. He likes to pitch to contact, as opposed to blowing past batters. While it’s Groth’s first year pitching on varsity, he does have plenty of experience working in West Valley’s system.
A couple arms to look for coming out of the bullpen would be senior Carson Poulson, and sophomore Derek Wolff. They’ve both been taking extra bullpen sessions this off-season, so they feel prepared for their new roles.
Not only is Tolliver going to be a starting pitcher, but he’s also going to be the teams primary catcher. HIs flamethrowing arm translates well to gunning down potential base stealers.
Holding down the third base position is projected to be Derek Wolff. For only being a sophomore, he’s a powerful hitter at the plate. He'll be a middle-of-the-order presence.
Shortstop is always going to be an important position on any baseball team, and West Valley has to love what they have in Jackson Van De Brake. As long as he’s healthy, he’s going to be an All League player
His double play partner will likely be junior Sy Steele. He took spot starts at second base last year, and had a solid .355 on base percentage. Pencil Steele in to be an everyday producer now.
Manning first base will be a returning starter in Hayden Groth. He’s a proven commodity at the plate, and he’s not too shabby in the field either.
The anchor for this outfield is going to be senior Carson Poulson. With how many good hitting teams there are in the Big Nine, Poulson can absolutely save runs over the course of the year.
Projected play the corner outfield spots are juniors Jack Finley and Hunter Smith. Both paid their dues at the JV level last year, and now they’ll be replacing seniors in the outfield.
The Big Nine Conference is looking as good as it’s been in recent memory. You could make the argument that over half the conference has chance of making it to state. Developing quality pitching is going to be the difference maker for the Rams this year. West Valley may not be as sexy of a pick to win the Big Nine as Wenatchee or Moses Lake, but the potential is absolutely there to win a league title.
@ Wenatchee 3/29
Moses Lake 4/5
@ Eastmont 4/26