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Kelso (3A)

Coach: Tom D’Aboy, fifth season

Last year: 19-9 overall, 10-5 league; state runner-up

Player to watch: Trey Hartley, sr., P

X-Factor: Alex Ransom, jr., INF

Outlook: Nine months removed from a state championship loss, the Hilanders have just five returners. Coach Tom D’Aboy said Kelso’s infield should be a strength, with most positions locked down while Trevor Torppa and Nate Lonner battle for first base. Pitching is the enigma, though Trey and Trevor Hartley have experience on the bump and are expected to see plenty innings. Outfield spots could also be in flux.

R.A. Long (2A)

Coach: Mark Hulings, seventh season

Last year: 16-5 overall, 12-0 league; state playoffs

Player to watch: Jacob Childers, sr., C

X-Factor: Elias Farland, jr., P

Outlook: The Lumberjacks face their toughest challenge in a few seasons after graduating top pitchers Kaden Vanderwerf and Alex Brady, along with several other bats. Some notable names remain, though, and hitting is still a strength.

Mark Morris (2A)

Coach: Greg Bussell, first season

Last year: 5-12 overall, 4-8 league; missed playoffs

Player to watch: Dawson Fritz, sr., 2B/SS

X-Factor: Jack Shipley, sr., INF/P

Outlook: While last year was rough for the Monarchs, it finished with wins over Columbia River and Hockinson in the season’s second half. Mark Morris only finished with a minus-10 run differential over its last nine games, when excluding a Civil War blowout, and doesn’t look far from playoff contention.

Woodland (2A)

Coach: Hunter Huddleston, second season

Last year: 6-10 overall, 2-10 in league; district playoffs

Player to watch: Wyatt Wooden, jr., INF

X-factor: Ryan Cooney, so., 3B/P

Outlook: After its first playoff appearance in three seasons, Woodland graduated only one player and has a few impact underclassmen. Coach Hunter Huddleston praised several players for weightlifting during the offseason and has high expectations in his second year. With several of the better groups in the league graduating sizable portions of the starting lineups, it wouldn’t be surprising for Woodland to establish itself among the alphas.

Castle Rock (1A)

Coach: Chad Perdue, fifth season

Last year: 3-13 overall, 2-10 league; district playoffs

Player to watch: Erik Titus, sr., 2B/P

X Factor: Ethan Perdue, sr., SS/P

Outlook: The Rockets are confident in their chances to sit atop the league standings by the end of April, with four potential all-leaguers on the roster. Skyler McQuilliams, Austin McQuilliams, Titus and Perdue are set to anchor Castle Rock at the plate with the latter two expected to handle plenty of innings on the bump.

Rainier (OSAA 3A)

Coach: John Karns, second season

Last year: 13-9 overall, 10-2 league; state tournament

Player to watch: Austin Cantrell, sr., 3B/P

X-factor: Joey Tripp, sr., 2B/P

Outlook: A first-round exit in the state playoffs left a bad taste in the Columbians mouths following their third consecutive league title. A senior class including Preston Setzer, Logan Keizur, Tripp and Cantrell provide big green with enough talent to compete with anyone. Cantrell was named league player of the year last Spring.

Clatskanie (OSAA 3A)

Coach: Ryan Tompkins, 10th season

Last year: 8-15 overall, 4-8 league; state tournament

Player to watch: Cade Warren, jr., C/P

X-factor: Dawson Evenson, jr., P/1B

Outlook: The Tigers couldn’t quite take full advantage of several underclassmen with quality hit tools but graduated only two players and appear threatening. James Helmen is out for the season after sustaining a leg injury, though Warren was selected first-team all-state last Spring.

Ilwaco (2B)

Coach: Doug Pellerin, second season

Last year: 11-9 overall, 11-3 in league; district playoffs

Player to watch: Reese Tynkila, sr., OF/3B

X-factor: Ghannon Whelden, sr., OF

Outlook: The Fish showed improvement on the field and in the books in coach Doug Pellerin’s first season, and will look to improve on the mound this season after allowing 7.5 runs per game last year. Offense is of little concern, though, coming off a season average of eight runs per outing.

Kalama (2B)

Coach: Brandon Walker, fourth season

Last year: 20-9 overall, 12-4 league; fourth in state

Player to watch: Hayden Wilson, sr., C

X-Factor: Tommy Brandenburg, so. P/INF

Outlook: A big swing from Brandenburg on a 1-1 count sent a fastball over the wall and the Chinooks into elite company last year. Kalama is riding that momentum and started practicing in mid-season form, save for a tiny bit of rust, which could become a special run for the team on the hill. It remains to be seen if a second high-end pitcher will step up, but the Chinooks are loaded in the batter’s box.

Toledo (2B)

Coach: Jeff Davis, ninth season

Last year: 9-12 overall, 8-8 league; districts

Player to watch: Hunter Eaton, sr., OF

X-factor: Bryce Marcil, sr., OF/P

Outlook: The Indians are anchored by three senior starters, outfielders Hunter Eaton and Bryce Marcil, along with catcher Matt Stavig. It’s coach Jeff Davis’ hope that the younger players will draw from their experience, especially since Toledo lacked a JV squad last season. Hunter Holmes is the resident flamethrower on the hill, while the Indians also hope to get many quality innings from sophomore Ryan Bloomstrom.

Toutle Lake (2B)

Coach: Jerry Johnson, 11th season

Last year: 12-11 overall, 9-7 league; districts

Player to watch: Logan Grabenhorst, sr., P/SS

X-Factor: Ridge Moss, sr., 1B/P

Outlook: While notable names on the Ducks’ roster may be fewer than in previous seasons, a couple C2BL coaches have said they expect Toutle Lake to remain a tough opponent. Austin Sweet has experience playing anywhere there’s dirt, and his utility could become a vital asset. Sweet, Moss and Grabenhorst were all-league selections last season.

Wahkiakum (2B)

Coach: Marc Niemeyer, fifth season

Last year: 20-2, 16-0 league; state quarterfinals

Player to watch: James Anderson, sr., OF/P

X-Factor: Luke Brown, sr., INF/P

Outlook: The Mules’ 2018 season provided a clear example of how much every play matters after going undefeated in league but falling two outs shy of the state’s final four. The team prides itself on positivity, though it’s a painful memory that was difficult for many to shake. Perhaps that’s a missing ingredient needed to cook up wins in a league with three legitimate state contenders.

Naselle (1B)

Coach: Randy Lindstrom, fifth season

Last year: 12-5 overall, 6-0 league; state quarterfinals

Player to watch: Ethan Lindstrom, jr., P/SS

X-Factor: Cole Dorman, sr., P/2B

Outlook: Naselle’s 1-2 punch of Lindstrom and Dorman helps invigorate memories of another state tournament berth. The Comets have six notable returners, and healthy mix of under and upperclassmen. Coach Randy Lindstrom was named Coastal 1B League coach of the year just nine months ago, and the roster is only two experienced players lighter. It’s no surprise Naselle expects to finish first in its league.

Winlock (Independent)

Coach: Jordan Nailon, second season

Last year: 0-17 overall, 0-17 league; missed playoffs

Player to watch: Nathan Suhrbier, jr., OF

X-Factor: Anthony Clevenger, sr., UTIL

Outlook: Playing an independent schedule against shabby competition this year, the Cardinals are going back to the drawing board and looking to build confidence. Versatility may be Winlock’s calling card this season, while junior outfielder Lukis Tamburello could blossom into an cornerstone.

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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