Columbia High School Bruins
2019 Turnout: 28
Head Coach: John Hallead, 10th Year overall (7th at CHS); 90-99 overall record (49-73 at CHS).
Assistant Coaches: Chad Myers, Tony Guler, and Greg Holtman (4th year together as a staff).
Last four years of program:
●2018: 17-7 (Trico League Co-Champ-ions; 4th place at District)
●2017: 11-10 (4th place at District)
Key Losses to Graduation
William Gross, SS/P, .400 avg., 1.93 ERA (two-time All-Trico 1st Team selection).
Adam Goodwillie, 2B/P, .345 avg., 2.90 ERA (All-Trico 1st Team selection).
Tylan Webster, C, .365 avg. (three- time All-Trico 2nd Team selection).
Shad Curtis, CF, .285 avg.
Key Returning Players
Trenton Howard, sr. OF/P, .280 avg., .480 OBP, 32 runs scored, 24 stolen bases.
Davis Koester, jr. UTL/P, .400 avg., 25 IP, .840 ERA.
Sean McMahon, sr. OF/P, .296 avg,. .441 OBP.
Returning Players/Key Additions
Jordan Trout, sr. OF; Trevor Cooper, sr. INF; Dominic Raether, sr. OF/P; Payden Webster, jr. INF; Kolby Rig-gleman, jr. INF/P; Garrett Hogberg, so. 1B/P; Keegan Brasuell, so. OF; Austin Charters, so. C/UTL.
After a 15-5 2018 regular season and a share of the Trico League championship, the Bruins look to build off of recent success, having placed fourth in the eight-team district tournament the past two years.
Head Coach John Hallead, who also serves as the summer baseball Col-umbia Gorge River Bandits’ skipper, is optimistic about the 2019 Bruin Baseball team, but recognizes they have been hit hard by graduation.
“Graduating Adam [Goodwillie] and William [Gross] are two tough losses. Both had incredible seasons on the mound for us and were a big part of our offensive production,” Hallead said.
Gross, who was named All-State for the second year in a row, is now playing at Grays Harbor College for former Montesano Head Coach Mike Bruner. Goodwillie plays for Mt. Marty College, an NAIA school located in Yankton, South Dakota.
“Losing our top two pitchers will definitely be felt, but I feel confident that our summer program has built pitchers to replace them,” Hallead noted.
Returning pitchers include junior right-hander Davis Koester, who last spring posted a .840 ERA in 25 innings pitched. Koester was used mostly in relief of Gross and Goodwillie, but was thrust into a starting role last summer for the River Bandits.
During the summer, Koester posted a 1.44 ERA in 48 innings pitched. “Davis was phenomenal last summer as a starter for us. I was very pleased with his new role as a starting pitcher and impressed with his ability to develop and dominate in that capacity. He has earned the role of ace on our pitching staff after tremendous success last spring and summer.”
Two somewhat new faces will join Koester in the 2019 rotation: junior Kolby Riggleman and sophomore Garrett Hogberg. They combined last summer for a 3.83 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched. “Kolby and Garrett were used in a dual role during games last summer. One would start the game and the other would finish the game, and vice-versa. Both bring different styles to the mound and both have a great sense of pitching and competing.”
Hallead will also rely on senior Dom-inic Raether, a left-handed power pitcher, senior Sean McMahon, a left- handed off-speed pitcher, and senior righty Trenton Howard in relief roles this spring. “I feel outside of Davis we could potentially start four different pitchers and have the deepest pitching staff of anyone in our league.”
In the outfield, Hallead believes he will have another strong defensive unit with athleticism, a staple of his programs during his tenure at CHS. The outfield will be led by Howard, who was an All-Trico 1st Team unanimous selection and a 1A All-State Team selection a season ago. Howard’s range and ability to read are his biggest assets, according to Hallead, who also has named Howard, along with Koester, team captain.
“What else can be said about Trenton Howard and his legacy at Columbia High School that the novice fan can’t easily see. He was a stud in football, and key part of the basketball program, and most likely, a back-to-back All-State selection who will no doubt be a college baseball player.”
Howard currently has 56 stolen bases in his career at Columbia High School. His goal is to surpass 75 for his career, which based on his last two seasons (24 and 19) is achievable. Sophomore Garr-ett Clark will backup Howard in center field. Hallead has high hopes for Clark as the future center fielder.
“Garrett is still developing, but he is a great kid to have in our program as he is hard working, committed, and well-respected by his teammates. I believe with Trenton’s tutelage, Garrett can really make great strides this year.”
Hallead points out that Howard has manned the outfield for four consecutive years at the Varsity level, a rare feat even he believes is special. “Not too many players are four-year starters for us. William Gross wasn’t. Neither was Adam Goodwillie. They are both playing at the next level. For me to have two players (Howard and Koester) who will be four-year starters is a tribute to the abilities and work ethic they possess.”
Flanking Howard in the outfield will be senior Jordan Trout, who is making the move from third base. Trout showed great speed and defensive ability in left field last summer.
Hallead believes Trout is an inspiration to his teammates because of adversity he has gone through this past year, being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“Any teenager going through that could have hung up their cleats and decided that adversity like cancer would be too much to handle. Not once have I witnessed Jordan say he was thinking about not playing, nor have I witnessed him complain about workouts or preparing for the upcoming baseball season. He is a testament to grit and determination that I think a lot of our players and students should look to as inspirational.”
Also in the mix in left field will be Raether, who possesses one of the strongest arms in the program.
Battling for the right field position will be McMahon and sophomore Keegan Brasuell. McMahon, who batted .296 last spring, has hit near .400 each of the past two summers for the River Bandits.
According to Hallead, McMahon is one of the top hitters on the team this year and will most likely fill in the batting order at the top of the lineup.
Brasuell impressed Hallead last summer with some clutch hits in key situations, and has good power in his swing. “Right now I am looking at whichever one of these two plays in right field, the other will most likely be our designated hitter.”
The infield looks to have the most changes and varsity inexperience, with senior Trevor Cooper leading the way. Cooper, who had arm issues the past two seasons, was used primarily in a designated hitter role last spring, hitting .255 in 65 plate appearances. “Coop will start out at second base this year. He has the most varsity experience of our projected starters, and I will look to him to lead a young group of infielders.”
At the shortstop position, the Bruins lost All-State player Gross, who had manned the position for the past three years. Hallead will start over with junior Payden Webster.
“Payden is a natural second baseman. With Trevor’s past arm issues, we felt it was best to move Payden to shortstop, as he possesses good instincts and defensive ability.”
Junior Kolby Riggleman will man third base and sophomore Garrett Hogberg will start at first base. “We have been blessed in the past with very good defensive first basemen with Kaleb Brasuell and Jarin Musgrove and I feel we will continue that great defensive play with Garrett taking over.”
Taking up catching duties this year for the graduated Tylan Webster will be Koester and sophomore Austin Char-ters. Koester will catch a majority of the games when he is not on the mound and Charters will be Koester’s battery mate. Koester, according to Hallead, had a tremendous summer season catching, and possesses a strong arm, quick release, and an innate ability to call a game. Charters, one of the more athletic players in the program, will also see time in the outfield and infield.
“We have got past the rebuilding part of our program and are into our reloading mode. There is an expectation every year within our program to qualify for the district tournament. After last year’s co-league championship, our players have tasted success at the champion-ship level, but we still have unfinished business in qualifying for the state tournament, something that has eluded us the past two years,” Hallead said. “We have tremendous commitment from our baseball players, the largest turnout during my tenure, and we have had a winning record the past two springs and past two summers. The recipe for success is there. Now we just need to eat and enjoy the meal.”