WALLA WALLA — Not much suprises DeSales High School baseball coach Kim Cox after a 30-year career and a .833 winning percentage over that span.
Cox guided his 2012 Irish team to a state title, the 17th in his tenure. The team’s record last season was 23-2 and his overall coaching record is 607-123.
The Irish do have a Southeast 2B League rival in Asotin to challenge them again this season.
“Asotin will be good again,” Cox said. “They return a lot of players and picked up a real-deal pitcher from Clarkston who throws in the upper 80s. We have a lot respect for their team and program. We’ve battled it out the last few years.”
Another league rival from last season was Liberty Christian. The Patriots challenged the Irish in 2012, but dropped down to a 1B classification this year.
“Liberty Christian was in the top three in our league,” Cox said, “but they have dropped down a level.”
Challenges come in the form of league and then the playoffs — not to mention state competitions.
“You have to be good and little lucky,” Cox said, “to even win back-to-back titles. We have won seven in a row twice in my time at DeSales. We have also won at least one state championship in each of the last four decades.”
Last year’s state title was won by a strong class of juniors that return eight players.
The eight seniors will make up a majority of the starting positions for the varsity team.
But don’t forget ace sophomore pitcher Cameron Richman. He batted .397 last season and was unbeaten on the mound. That includes the state title game he won on the mound.
Logan Hoeft looks to claim the No. 2 pitching role again this season. He pitched a gutsy performance for the Irish while injured in the semifinals of state last season, Cox said.
“Hoeft throws in the low 80s, but keeps the ball down and gets a lot of groundball outs,” Cox said. “Cameron throws a little harder, has four pitches and locates real well, too. Junior Adam Eskil really improved over summer baseball, too, and he will compete for the No. 2 pitching slot.”
Rounding out the top four in the rotation is sophomore Connor Richard.
Besides Hoeft, seven other seniors compete for playing time on the varsity.
Joe Duehn hit .379 last season and played catcher and second base. While not the on the mound, Richman caught and shifted Duehn to second.
“Duehn has a lot speed, hits well and really fields his positions,” Cox said. “He is also a real team leader and we depend upon him to set the tone.”
Travis Haen manned shortstop last year and broke the school record for assists with 55.
“Haen has an awesome work ethic and loves the game,” Cox said. “He doesn’t boot any balls and fields his position really well. He also batted .416 in 2012.”
Tim Caudill led the team in RBIs last season while playing first base. He hit some impressive home runs and was a good fielder.
Third base is open for competition because Spencer Cordeiro graduated.
“We only lost one player from last year’s team, but it was a big loss,” Cox said of last year’s third baseman. “Cordeiro made many great defensive plays and when we needed them. He was also a good RBI guy with a good bat.”
Next in line to play third base is Hoeft or sophomore Isaac Mata.
Cody Josifek possesses power, hits well and has a strong accurate arm out in right field.
Riley Roach is the returning center fielder, who really excelled in the field and made several game-changing catches at his position.
Kyler Pommerening hit .400 last year and played a solid left field.
The last senior outfielder is Paul Elmenhurst, who took up baseball for the first time last season.
“I’ve been surprised how quickly Elmenhurst has learned the game,” Cox said. “He has earned himself some varsity playing time this season.”
Darryl Galloway is a junior outfielder who is “real steady and experienced,” Cox said. “Galloway has really improved over his career.”
Matt Jubb is another junior that got better playing summer ball. He will back up first base and see some time at the designated hitter position with his power and hitting ability.
The other nine sophomores besides Richman will play junior varsity with some seeing varsity time, Cox said. Richard will be the other sophomore seeing more varsity time because of his pitching ability.
Isaiah Standard and Kaleo Healy are the two freshman that turned out. Standard will split varsity and JV time. He can pitch, catch, and play third or the outfield.
“Standard is a great baseball player who is going to be pushing older kids for varsity time,” Cox said.
Helping Cox coach are three of his former players in assistants Mike Postlewait, Clint Hale and Nic Wiese.
“All of my assistants have a great work ethic, get the most from the kids, love the game and are very loyal to the program,” Cox said.