Pierce Pioneer

COVID-19’s Effect on Sports

Feb. 19, 2020 – the last day that we stepped on a field together. 

It has now been almost 12 months since we last laced up our boots, but we finally resumed play on Feb. 9. We were given a second chance to play the game that we love, for after what felt like an eternity away from my teammates.

Unlike Feb. 2020, this year looks very different. Every player is required to wear masks; players aren’t allowed to socialize outside of practice and social distancing is a part of our daily lives. Yet, with a different appearance to the world’s most beautiful game, on the field, it never changed. 

I still love this game just as much if not more. It has done so much for me over the years and I will do whatever it takes to compete on the field every day.

My teammates all seemed to share this opinion and on the first day of practice, you could not see the faces of each teammate, but you could tell that they were smiling from ear to ear. After all the strenuous and annoying suspension of Pierce College athletics, the team had never been more ecstatic to compete. We had 12 months of energy and passion balled up inside waiting to be poured out on the soccer field. 

Playing for Pierce College’s men’s soccer program has been one of the most enriching experiences of my young adult life. It has brought me new friends, new possibilities and a chance to play at the collegiate level. Yet all of that would be put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic took over all of our lives.

Back in February of last year, the team was in good spirits and met for the first time since Nov. 2019. We had a new class of recruits to build upon a strong list of returning players, who represented essential leadership going forward into a new season later that year. 

The previous season ended with a devastating 1-0 defeat in the first round of the NWAC playoffs. We were left with a bitter taste in our mouths and knew we had to push ourselves to the maximum during the off-season.

Consequently, our off-season was postponed when all Pierce College athletics were suspended in March 2020. This was a hard pill to swallow as the opportunity to strive as a program was stripped away from us. The team could no longer meet in person, workout together, or even hang out outside of practice, we were deprived of the opportunity to play the sport that we loved.

Although, this didn’t stop us from persevering through the separation of players, as we engaged in individual workouts and training sessions. Our coaches required us to download and participate in a virtual training app called Techne Futbol. 

We were required to complete five hours of training sessions each week, as the app would track our minutes. This created a competitive atmosphere between the players who wanted to improve the most, but it lacked accountability.

Fast-forwarding throughout the off-season, our start-up date continued to be pushed back further and further. We were originally told April, then July, then August, then December, and finally January.

The team continued to get our hopes up for a return to play, but our hopes were crushed every few months. It was hard to gauge when we had to turn on the jets and train hard for the season and created an emotionally draining process that left us feeling grim. Yet, when given the first opportunity to return to the field, we took it, even if that meant wearing a mask knowing that we were healthy.

From now until the end of the season we are required to wear masks at all times, from when we step out of our cars until we leave. I have been wearing masks for months now and have become accustomed to wearing them in indoor places, but never while running outside. The majority of us aren’t in game shape going into the first weeks of training and wearing a mask while running only makes these matters worse. 

I am all for taking priority in players’ health, but it can’t be doubted that masks bring performance complications and hinder the amount of oxygen that we take in. According to our Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson, our state government and the NWAC are moving forward in hopes of not wearing masks during games, which would be applauded by players who on average run seven miles per match.

Our current safety protocols include filling out a health check form every day that we meet, temperature checks before entering the field, and applying hand sanitizer before each competition. These protocols may cause extra pain and add to more things to remember daily, but they have the best interest of players in mind. 

The thing that I will miss most is having fans at every game. Seeing my friends, family, and fellow students at each game adds to the motivation and competitive atmosphere. My parents never missed a game last year and were disappointed by the news, and I’m sure that they still find some way to watch my games. For everyone else, our games will be streamed online which expands our outreach but takes away the in-person spark that fans fuel you with as a player.

This season is unlike any other season, but I will trade Covid-19 protocols any day of the week if it gave me the opportunity to step foot on the soccer field one last time. All I can ask for is an opportunity to prove myself as a player and a man, thankfully I got the opportunity this winter. 

Pierce College Athletic’s Road to Recovery

Pierce College reopens sports and practices on campus following a 2020 press release

In a press release on Dec. 13, 2021 the Northwest Athletic Conference confirmed that all sports would return to play during the Winter quarter. After competition was suspended on March 17, 2020, no NWAC programs have stepped on the field together in official contests. The Covid-19 pandemic has barred student-athletes from competing and practicing when some programs haven’t competed since fall of 2019.

During the first week of February, all Pierce College sports were up and running, beginning their safe return to play. This marks the first time that all sports have competed during the same quarter, which adds pressure to scheduling and safety measures. 

According to the NWAC’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Policies manual, each NWAC competition will conduct a four-phase plan that will ease restrictions going forward. 

The first phase or grey phase includes a mandatory shelter-in-place where student-athletes are limited to essential travel only. This travel includes work, food shopping, mandatory labs and school-related responsibilities. Coaches are not permitted to hold in-person meetings or engage in socially distant workouts for two weeks.

Once the shelter-in-place is completed, practices are able to occur in person. Full team practices are not permitted, as small team training in pods of five or six must be followed. Each pod could practice on the same field, but no contacts between each divided group are allowed. Once two weeks of this process is finished, teams will be able to resume full team practices. 

Moving into the yellow phase, teams will be allowed to resume full team practices and sports facility gyms will be allowed to open. In every phase, teams are required to wear masks at all times, including in games. Although, these protocols are subject to change as the NWAC and Pierce College follows the guidelines set by Pierce County and Washington State health officials.

Since Pierce County is in phase two of Governor Inslee’s Road Map to Recovery, Pierce College competitions are allowed to practice in full roster capacity. Other counties who remain in phase one will have to stay in small group practices until they meet three out of the four Covid-19 restrictions. 

According to the NWAC, these restrictions include a 10% decrease in biweekly cases per 100,000 people, a 10% decrease in biweekly Covid-19 hospitalizations, an ICU occupancy of less than 90%, and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

When the NWAC enters the blue phase, all competitions are allowed to resume. Although, competitions this year will look different due to the banning of all fan attendance. This came as a measure to mediate the risk of Covid-19 exposure to NWAC student-athletes.

Before each game and practice, each player and coach is required to complete an online Health Check form to be eligible for competition. Furthermore, before each team meeting, all players and staff must have their temperature taken to ensure no symptoms of Covid-19 are shown.

Games are expected to take place on March 1 and have a window to complete all competition until June 15. This wide window allows each program to complete approximately 20 games for all sports. All games are subject to change as Covid-19 restrictions can alter the road to recovery laid out by the conference and state.

The NWAC and Pierce College sports will not be the same without fans and the support of Pierce students but there are several ways to catch every competition. All games will be streamed online through the NWAC website where all games can be viewed online. Another location for streamed games is through the NWAC Youtube channel that will broadcast all competitions.

See how canceling the 2020 season has affected the baseball program

In baseball, someone who fails 70 percent of the time is considered elite. Yet failing only 70 percent of the time calls for hundreds of hours dedicating yourself to the game. For all the time spent in the batting cage, on the field, and in the gym, you typically get three at-bats to show for it.
However, imagine having no chance to show off your hard work, and the opportunity to prove yourself is taken away. During the troubled times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom baseball program was deprived of one thing they loved most - baseball.
On March 17, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of the 2020 season for all spring sports programs. Pierce College Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson remained sympathetic to the student-athletes that he worked with.
“My initial reaction to the cancelation was a sense of devastation for our student-athletes,” he said. “Not just for this lost season, and this year’s training and preparation, but for the years of time and sacrifice they and their families have invested in getting to this point.”
According to Stevenson, over the last three decades as Pierce’s athletic director, he has never experienced anything like the COVID-19 Pandemic. The feeling of devastation extended to the program’s coaches and players. Yet, the program remained optimistic as the players began to plan for their futures and the next season.
“Within a day or two of the announcement of the decision, their spirits really turned around, especially as the enormous scope of the national and global situation became more apparent,” Stevenson said.
“They quickly switched gears from being frustrated about the lost season, to making plans for spring quarter classes and looking at options for next year. I am really proud of how resilient they have been through all of this.”
As announced online by the Northwest Athletic Conference, freshman and sophomores enrolled during the 2020 season would remain the same grade athletically for the next season. This would apply to all athletes regardless of the number of games played during the spring season.
Moreover, the sophomores have a big decision to make on where they will play during the 2020 season. Stevenson realized that the baseball program will never get this season back. “For some, this will be the end of their competitive careers,” he said. “As an athlete, you want to go out on your own terms –in the arena of competition. For those that return next year or move on to play at a four-year college [or] university, this will always be their lost season; It is really heart-breaking.”
Pierce’s baseball coach, Kevin Davis, was also crushed by the cancellation of the 2020 season. He knew what this season meant to the sophomores, as he was once in their shoes after finishing his sophomore baseball season at Bellevue College.

“I feel for the sophomores who worked their whole life for this and don't have anything to show for it,” he said. “I also feel for the freshmen who got their first chance at college ball and had that taken away.”
The NWAC was not the first conference to cancel the season, according to Davis. The decision to cancel the 2020 season followed similar decisions by four-year universities in the NCAA. Tournaments such as the NCAA College Baseball World Series and NCAA Basketball were canceled ahead of the NWAC’s decision in March.
Since the spring season ended, the program’s players have kept in touch and continue to train on their own time. “They have been doing home workouts, playing catch together when they can, and we have weekly zoom sessions to goof around and keep in touch,” Davis said.
The team now endures a long offseason where they plan to start their fall season as planned. Next season, they will have the possibility to have a first-ever season with three classes of players. This would include incoming freshman, returning freshman, and third-year sophomores.
Riley Paulino, a freshman pitcher who plans to return for next season, was let down by the cancelation and empathized with his sophomore teammates. “I was very disappointed because I felt that we had a really good group of guys all pulling towards one goal,” he said. “I also felt for the sophomores because, for some, this marked the end of their careers. It hurt me to witness their last season go down like that.”
Even though the rest of the spring 2020 season was canceled, the team was able to play 12 games out of the 45-game season. Paulino, who led the team in strikeouts, said his teammates were what made the short season and preparation worth it.
“My favorite part of this last season has to be the countless hours that I have spent grinding day in and day out with this group of guys,” Paulino said. “There is nothing like having 30 guys you know would run through a wall for you. This makes us push each other harder because we truly care about the success of each other.”

Hunter Bungert/ Photo Illustration

Cody Russell, a sophomore shortstop who is continuing his playing career at Washington State University, is only one of a few sophomores who knows where they are playing next season. According to Russell, he received the news of the canceled season during a meeting with this team.
“At first I was really shocked,” Russell said. “I didn’t really think it was true. It probably took me a week for it to click in; I’m not going to be completing my sophomore season up here.”
Since Russell has a sense of direction to work towards, he started his off-season early in preparations for his jump to division one baseball. But with no facilities and teams to practice with, it has been difficult to train for the next step in his career.
“It’s tough; we don't really have gyms right now,” he said. “So, we've got a little setup in our garage; my brother and I are lifting almost every day, hitting at the cages, playing long toss, and running. Just all the normal things that you can try and do without having a school gym or whatever we had before this whole thing happened.”
Additionally, Russell will be joining his brother at WSU, who is a freshman. He looks forward to the opportunity to play at the highest level with his brother. “I’m playing with my brother, what else could I really ask for?” he said. “It’s D1 baseball with your brother; It’s kind of a dream come true for both of us. I’m pumped, I can’t wait to get down there, get rolling and get with the team.”
With his junior college career at an end, Russell embarked on what he will remember most about playing for Pierce. “The grind, the attitude, and the culture that coach Davis built around the team was the coolest thing,” he said. “It was crazy how last year it was two different teams. This year it was like we were brothers, everyone was so close, hung out almost every day; everyone had classes with each other. The energy that the team brought was so different, I think that would have taken us a lot farther than last year.”
According to Russell, the majority of sophomores remain unsure about the next step in their baseball journey. Yet, the team continues to express optimism in the pursuit to play baseball for a four-year university. Only time will tell where they will end up and how the program rebounds from a canceled season.
With no way of making up the canceled season, the program endures a long off season to improve individually. COVID-19 guidelines make it hard to train as a team and each player’s commitment will be tested in preparation for the fall season. Even with a pandemic limiting the access to facilities and players, it won’t stop the program from striving to challenge themselves everyday. The program's sense of resilience will push them through quarantine and prepare for another season as a Pierce College Raider.

College Basketball Game: Pierce vs Highline

Kicking it with Q – Episode 4 – NBA Allstar Weekend

Quintin Mattson-Hayward talks about the upcoming NBA Allstar weekend with two guest.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Guests: Uli Valentin and Jake Santiago

Logo: Jesus Contreras

NWAC Volleyball Championship 2019

The Blue-Collar Team

On November 21st, 2019, the women’s volleyball team had not only captured their third consecutive Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) west region title, they were also able to solidify their spot in Pierce College Athletics history by being the only team to have back to back undefeated conference seasons. Their next goal would be set on capturing the NWAC championship.

The road to the mountain top began with going head to head against the Walla Walla Warriors which ended with a score of three to zero giving the Raiders their first win in the tournament.

On Friday November 22nd, 2019 Pierce College continued full steam ahead as they went on to beat Edmonds Triton’s with a score of three to zero allowing them to advance.

However, there is no journey without it’s adversities and obstacles. As Lane’s Titan’s would go on to beat the Raiders with a score of three to zero giving the women’s volleyball team their first loss in the tournament.

Saturday, November 23rdthe day before the championship game Pierce College’s Raiders would compete in three games. They went on to defeat Rogue’s Osprey’s with a score of two to zero, then followed up by a draw between them and Tacoma’s Titans.

In the end, it came down to the Raiders having to face off against Lane’s Titans one more time in a rematch that would avenge their previous loss. Winning with a score of two to zero, they were placed in the championship game.

Sunday, November 24th2019 The Pierce College Raiders would face off against Spokane Sasquatch. In a back and forth match that had the crowd constantly on their feet, it would ultimately be Spokane that would come out with the NWAC championship.

Coach Greg Finel of the women’s volleyball team looked back at this season as one for the books. When describing the journey getting to the NWAC championship he says “It was a long journey, hard fought every single day and watching the growth from the players from the first day to the last day, I wouldn’t change anything.”

When it came to the mindset going into the championship game against Spokane, Mr. Finel describes it as “It was just be us, we got to where we were by being us and I didn’t want them to change. I wanted them to enjoy the match, of course we wanted to win but it didn’t happen but I wanted them to enjoy every moment of that no matter what the outcome was going to be.”

When it comes to the experience of playing in the championship game Coach Finel says that “it was fun, I mean we were chasing history by going undefeated in the conference, we were chasing history by going undefeated at home for the last couple years, we were chasing history every time we stepped out on that court.”

Lastly when asked if Spokane had any weaknesses if any Finel responded with “Their confidence. We’re a blue-collar team, nothing for us was given. We didn’t come into the season with people thinking over the last four years we could be anything. It’s its Pierce College, We’re Lakewood, we’re Tacoma, we’re Steilacoom. We’re not a high-profile team from a high-profile area everything we got is blue collar we don’t take anything for granted.

The Players had an incredible run this past season and reflect on making it to NWAC championship. Karlee Lewis says “I think it’s amazing we made it that far honestly, we all wanted to do better than what we did last year. We did it.”

When asked about what moments stuck out the most Peyton Foster says “The first time we played highline after they beat us. I personally went into that match kind of scared because they beat us before then after we beat them it was joy and relief.”

When asked about how much closer the team is now than at the start of the season Ainslee Eberlee says “There was definitely a lot of tension but living together fixed that on its own.”

With the season, finally over this 2019 Girls’ volleyball team have left their mark. They captured their third consecutive Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) west region title. They also had back to back undefeated conference seasons. What’s left, an echo an echo that rings “Legacy. What is a legacy?It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

20 Years in the Making

pierceraiders.com / Courtesy Photo
Ready, set, go! #132 Serin Caldwell (left) and #133 Tiffany Compton(right) Line up at the satring line moments before the first race in the Pierce College’s
Womens Cross Country history.


This year marks the beginning of an era as Pierce College introduces its first ever Women’s Cross Country Team

For the first time in Pierce College’s history, the women’s cross country team debuted on Aug. 31 after twenty years in the making. Daniel Richards, head coach of the team, helped orchestrate the meets and practices, playing a key role in getting this team off the ground.

Richards had conversations with Duncan Stevenson, director of District Athletics, which focused on strengthening the college’s athletic program. This is what led to Pierce adding women’s cross country to the program, which has been a goal of Stevenson for the past two decades. 

“Year one we just wanted to form a team,” said Richards. “Next year, I want to be able to compete in the NY conference; it’s a prestigious conference when it comes to distance running and cross country and I want Pierce to be in the conversation as early as next year.”

As far as how Pierce should be seen in the realm of cross country, Richards mentions that he hopes to make this a place to go and run for. “That’s my goal – competing for and winning conference championships in the next few years,” he said.

Currently the team is excelling as the season progresses, and students are excited that they have this new opportunity available to them. Serin Caldwell, a student on the team, expressed her thrill for being able to be a part of this. “I’ve always loved to run and now that Pierce College has a cross country team I think it’s a great opportunity for lots of girls to go in and do their passion.” 

Other athletes on the team, such as Tiffany Compton, have also expressed their excitement about their experience. “I enjoy my time very well,” said Compton. “I’ve done this since high school and took a two-year break, so it’s really nice getting back into the individual school schedule.”

When it comes to Richards experience coaching he says his favorite part is the comradery. “Meeting these girls with a passion for running, it’s a diverse group of girls and it’s cool seeing how running can bring them together. Sometimes you have a handful of people and you’re like ‘how is this going to form a team?’. It’s cool to see them bond over hard work and practices day in to day out, that’s the biggest reward.”

Over the season, the team has done a total of six games, including their most recent one on Nov. 18 at Saint Martin’s University. Each member has been improving and enjoying their time since the creation of this team, and are looking forward to continuing to do so.

For those that have an interest in learning more about the women’s cross country team, students can check out the sports athletic page on the Pierce College website. Students can look forward to the future of this new team as it becomes a competitive and sought out school to run for. It is here to stay.

Halloween at Pierce College

Every year, Halloween gets bigger and bigger. This year, the Pioneer decided to explore and share the Halloween culture of the Pierce community. From the sports team to the international office, everyone was making plans and celebrating the spooky day.

The Pierce Baseball and Softball team play a game dressed in Halloween costumes.

Interviews done by Anna Paxton Hammond asking the pierce community about their Halloweens.

It’s easy for Americans to view Halloween through the lenses of their culture. Widely celebrated across the nation, the spirit of the holiday often takes root as soon as October hits.

But for international students in college, Halloween can be something foreign and exciting; a way for those not from America to take part in its culture and festivities. And at Pierce College’s Halloween Dance Party, the international students were given the opportunity to truly feel the Halloween Spirit.

Photo Credits

Sunny Martini / Courtesy Photo

Darrel Kuntz / Staff Photo

Ty Phay / Staff Photo

Jesus Contreras / Staff Photo

 

Editors: Myra Fehling, Kotone Ochiai, Kevin Collins

 

Music provided by No Copyright

Music: https://www.youtube.com/c/royaltyfree...

Music used: Spook 3 by PeriTune https://soundcloud.com/sei_peridot/sp...

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...

Music provided by No Copyright

Music: https://www.youtube.com/c/royaltyfree...

Music used: Spook 2 by PeriTune https://soundcloud.com/sei_peridot/sp...

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...

Music provided by No Copyright

Music: https://www.youtube.com/c/royaltyfree...

Music used: Spook by PeriTune https://soundcloud.com/sei_peridot/spook

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...

Raiders hold eye of the storm

Marji Harris / Staff Photo
Ashley Howell (No. 20) is shown batting for the Raiders’ softball game.

Women’s Pierce softball: too legit to quit

On May 1, the Pierce Raiders and the Skagit Valley Cardinals competed at the level of superior athletes from the start. The sun was shining over the field and the crowd cheered for the young athletes while they performed in one of the closest matches they’ve had all season.

Prior to facing the Cardinals, the Raiders endured a lengthy and heartbreaking day against the fierce Edmond Tritons, who rank in at number two on the nwac bracket. Pierce pushed back with everything they had but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

“They have nothing to feel bad about. They competed like champions against one of the toughest teams around in a game that lasted much longer than expected, leaving them fatigued going into their next event,” said Duncan Stevenson.

Marji Harris / Staff Photo
Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks (No. 11) is shown pitching.

No. 11, Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks, pitching performance was highly impressive. She maintained a tight focus, keeping the pressure and throwing no-hitters for most of the game. The Raiders won the game 4-2.

No. 4, Allyssa Hansen, struggled earlier in the season due to a spinal injury. “She hurt her lower back, but made a steady recovery and continues to play,” said Austin Procter, Allyssa Hansen’s boyfriend.

Sparks, who is a sophomore, came in from Lacey, Washington after graduating out of Timberline High School. She earned the position as primary pitcher for the team, holding a pitching average of 11.56 and continues to mature into a bold young adversary.

Sparks is a strong contender, knowledgeable advocate and a graceful colleague. “She’s been a tremendous benefit to the crew, with a positive attitude and good sportsmanship. She’s also been a dependable side coach, always helping her peers,” said head coach, Mike Nelson.

“I am honored to have trained them. They are absolute warriors,” said Nelson.

Challenges were faced without a full team, but it promoted a sense solidarity. “We lost our main pitcher and a couple other girls along the way. Being short numbered helped us grow closer, connecting as a team,” said Riley Rivera (utility).

Nelson had a tough ride but in the end earned the team’s respect. “He’s been an outstanding mentor, taking the position on short notice and training us to compete on a whole new level. It wasn’t easy for him either since he never got to hand pick us during tryouts,” Rivera said.

No. 2, Kayla Washington, played third base and has been competing since she was ten.

“She’s the youngest of her two sisters,” said Washington’s mother, Kelley Washington. “This is her last year while studying for her associate’s degree. Her two sisters before her competed too and received scholarships for Howard University,” she said.

No matter what the girls went through… they never caved to the pressure.”

— Mike Nelson, Head Coach

Washington is the top batter for the team, always impressing the crowd as she steps to the plate while holding an average of .313. “Her confidence level is fierce. Everybody gets excited whenever she’s up to bat. She consistently performs well and always looks for improvement,” said Nelson.

Washington and Sparks used to compete against each other during their youth. “When they were ten years old, they were rivals from different schools,” said Kelley Washington.

Lily Hope, No. 15, plays shortstop and gave an impressive performance on the field as her boyfriend, Jacob Link, watched from the sidelines. “She’s doing great. They (the team) get along well and maintain their studies together,” said Link.

Hope has been an outstanding well-rounded competitor all season, showing every other competitor she’s worth it, claiming her time on the field. “Hope is a courageous young athlete. She’s the kind of athlete that makes plays nobody else can make,” said Nelson.

The Raiders fought through every injury and training exercise, surpassing every challenge with pride. “No matter what the girls went through or wounds they received during practice and events, they never caved to the pressure,” said Nelson.

As the season wraps up, the Raiders have no regrets with everything they’ve accomplished this year. “I enjoyed every moment as their coach and look forward to next year. They’re a tough bunch and deserve every bit of recognition for their efforts. Go-Raiders!” said Nelson.

Raiders embrace their brotherhood

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
The Raider’s focus this season was to enjoy the experience, have fun, and be bold in their playing.

Through the ups and downs of the season, the Raiders came together as a team and ended strong

This has been a unique and challenging season for the Raiders men’s baseball team. But throughout the season, they played with heart and soul and finished as winners.

Coach Jake Philips and some of the players touched on the highlights of the season. 

Who showed the most improvement?

Sophomore No. 2 Colby Tam, a graduate out of St. Anthony’s High school in Waihe’e-Waiehu Hawaii., is the team’s most improved player for this season. Tam has been a utility player, meaning that he can play several different positions. A strong competitor who has also played every position, his energy and drive would draw in those watching.

Most memorable moments?

The team’s most memorable moments have been as they are competing against rival teams in the Tacoma area. When the Raiders win, they dog pile each other on the ball field after the game.

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Spencer Howell shown pitching for the Raiders.

Most surprising player?

Brock Wrolstad No. 24 turned out to be a surprise pitcher for the team. One of the other pitchers was out due to an injury, so Philips put Brock on the mound. After one of the games when he pitched a “no hitter” for four innings straight, Philips asked Brock how come he did not say anything about his pitching ability.

Brock’s answer characterized the team competitor that he is. “Well, you didn’t ask,” he said. He was more focused on getting out there and playing the game.

Biggest upset of the season?

Dominc Agron is a sophomore from Covington, Washington, graduating out of Kentwood High School. He started as the primary pitcher this season, and was talked about as the top pitcher in conference receiving consistent observation from scouts. 

Duncan Stevenson is the athletic director for Pierce College. He was very impressed with Agron’s pitching ability. “He would go out there and own the plate and with him being a short guy, nobody takes you as serious as they should and you shoot off like a thunder storm,” he said.

However, a serious elbow injury partway through the season has put his future baseball career into question.

The team kept true to the heart of the game, which is to go out there and have fun. In doing so, they were able to focus their energies into developing each other’s strengths. Overall, as of May 1, the Raiders ranked in the top five in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC).

Game Schedule

Day: May 10

Time: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Playing against: Tacoma Community College

Where: Minnitti Field

Day: May 11

Time: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Playing against: Tacoma Community College

Where: Mt. Tahoma H.S. Baseball Field

Raiders’ sportsmanship carries the team to victory

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo

Team’s mindset sets them up for the win

Raiders men’s baseball team has had its share of challenges this season. But the game on April 14 against the Grays Harbor Chokers highlighted their outstanding sportsmanship and team cohesion, all with a firm dose of competitive dominance.

For shortstop Mason Hoover, part of the team focus is having each other’s backs. “We weren’t connecting earlier in the season but we’ve been getting it together, feeling out our chemistry and having a great time and finding common ground,” he said.

Pitcher Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa No. 23 sees finding joy in the game has to be just as important as winning the game. “The coach gave us a better setting to have fun today and not being so serious because we still want to have fun just as much as we want to  win,” Hoopii- Tuionetoa said.

Coach Jake Phillips played baseball for the Raiders in 2011 and 2012 and has been the coach for the last five years. Training this year consisted of having his athletes improve their technique with new and interesting training exercises.

With a solid swing of the bat, he sent the ball flying into the outfield and his teammates to home plate.”

One of the training tools Philips used were whip sticks. Players use the short, slender sticks to hit tennis balls; by doing so, the batter can to improve control over the bat. He also had his players practice hitting sunflower seeds. If the batter can hit a sunflower seed, hitting a baseball is easy.

The Raiders formed up on the field three hours before the game started, embracing the cold as the rain soaked their uniforms. Getting a little wet was not going to hinder their pre-game exercises and team morale.

The tone was set early in the game. At the start of the third inning. the Raiders were `up to bat and ahead 2-0. It wasn’t long before the bases were loaded and no outs, when No. 7 Cody Russell stepped to the plate.  With a solid swing of the bat, he sent the ball flying into the outfield and his teammates to home plate.

As the spectators cheered, the Chokers answered with three points of their own, but the Raider’s team would continue to dominate. By the end of the fourth inning they were ahead by another four runs. Ultimately, the Raiders would finish the game 11-5 and the second game 10-0.

The last set of games for the men’s team is against Tacoma Community College. On May 10 at starting 1:00 p.m., they will be playing at Minnitti field. May 11 is a home game, playing at Mount Tahoma High School starting at 1:00 p.m.

A family on the field

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
Top – 35# (Lachlan Arford), 31# (Jason Sizemore), 27# (Balas Buckmaster), 33# (Spencer Howell), 23# (Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa), 9# (Jacob Hinkle), 13# (Clay Spacher).
Second row from the top – 27 # Balas Bukmaster, 22# (Cole Benson), 34# (Ashton Dulfer), 28# (Andrew Oasay), 15# (Chris Trisler), 17# (Trucker Stroup), 26# (Jamie Maples), 6# (Alex Sisley).
Third row from top – 8# (Nainoa Paragoso), 19# (Dominc Agron), 25# (Ryan Ancheta), 16# (Wyatt Ohlson), 11# (Kennedy Cook), 1# (Nathan Gelbrich), 3# (Hobie Mahon), 12# (Cody Isa).
Last row – 2# (Colby Tam), 7# (Cody Russell), 5# (Josiah Factora), 4# (Josiah Factora), 20# (Austin Eisenmenger), 10# (Tyler Fox), 24# (Brock Wrolstad), 14# (Rhys De Highden).

A Championship Culture and high aspirations for Pierce College Baseball

Last year, the Pierce College baseball team dominated conference play en route to the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Super Regionals. This year, they aim to put championship rings on their fingers when the season ends.

After finishing with an overall record of 26-23, and out matching conference opponents with a record of 17-8, this year’s group has the mix of veteran leadership, talented young players, and a bond amongst each other to take them to great heights.

Sophomore pitcher Brock Wrolstad touched on the goals of the team and what it takes to achieve them. Wrolstad is currently getting a general Associate in Arts degree and plans to further his baseball career beyond Pierce College, but has not decided where.

“Our goal is to win an NWAC Championship and to do that we need to play with confidence and for one another,” Wrolstad said. “We cannot go out playing selfish, we need to play as a family.”

The family culture the team carries is something they have built through relentless offseason preparation.

Sophomore pitcher Tyler Fox intends to major in sports management and further his baseball career as well. He is waiting until the season’s end to decide where. Fox knows how important the culture the team has created is to their success.

Duncan Stevenson / Courtesy Photo
“Play fast and relaxed and never give up on your teammates,” Tucker Stroup said.

“We have a culture of family and want to fight for each other every day,” Fox said. “We’ve been grinding for about seven months now and we all know we would go to battle for each other.”

The team’s family mindset pairs well with the high standards and goals players have individually.

For Fox, he wants to have an earned run average (ERA) under 2.00 and a batting average above .300. Wrolstad also wants to have an ERA under 2.00 and be named to first team all NWAC.

Sophomore pitcher Tucker Stroup also has the goal of having an ERA below 2.00. Stroup plans to get his Associate in Arts degree before transferring to a four year university to continue his baseball career. Stroup had other individual goals he brings whenever he’s on the mound.

“Play fast and relaxed and never give up on your teammates,” Stroup said. “Be consistent as a pitcher, throw strikes and throw with intent.”

For the Raiders offensively, a top returner at the plate is outfielder Nainoa Paragoso, who had a strong freshman campaign with a batting average of .325 while also wreaking havoc on the basepath with 12 stolen bases.

On the mound, Dominic Agron hopes to continue making an example of opposing batters as he did in his freshman season where he had a 2.44 ERA, 70 innings pitched, and 58 strikeouts; all second on the team.

For the freshman, there is definitely a bit of a transition from high school baseball into college, Fox said.

“In high school you kind of know if you’re going to play a lot,” Fox said. “But in college ball, you’re fighting for a spot in the lineup every single day.”

This far into the season, the Raiders are 6-10, but with the most important games ahead, the team will gear up to dominate the conference as they did last year.

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