It was a Clatsop County sweep last year in high school baseball. Four teams, three league champions — 4A Astoria, 3A Warrenton and 2A Knappa.
The Fishermen have been there before, and should be right near or at the top of the Cowapa League standings again.
They won’t be alone in the challenge, however. Banks and Seaside will make it a three-team race for the league title.
The only difference: the Fishermen are old hands at league titles. Glen Fromwiller led Astoria to a co-league championship last season, in his first season as coach after replacing Dave Gasser.
In addition, six of Astoria’s eight all-league players return, with the notable loss being league Player of the Year Trey Hageman.
Over the course of the recent nonleague season, Fromwiller said, “I think we’ve improved and come together as a group. We’re still figuring out some spots for people, but things have fallen into place pretty well.
“We have a pretty consistent batting order, and the players are pretty comfortable with where they’re at.”
The Fishermen lost their Cowapa League opener to Seaside, which only shows that it will be a competitive year in the race for a league title.
Looking to win state championships in the three major sports (football, basketball, baseball), Banks is two-thirds of the way there, so the Braves certainly have something to play for, and may be the frontrunner.
Still, “Most teams are pretty even this year,” Fromwiller said of the league race. “You can’t look past anybody. It’s just hard to tell before you start playing each other. Banks looks great, but they’re beatable. We beat them last year, with most of the same kids we have now.”
And in a league that seems to love co-champions, co-Players of the Year, co-Coaches of the Year, etc., don’t rule out some sort of three-way tie between Astoria, Banks and Seaside.
To begin with, Fromwiller’s team is loaded with experience, with six seniors and seven juniors on the roster.
It starts on the mound, where the Fishermen have plenty of capable arms in Dylan Rush, Michael Moore, Dylan Junes — in all, nine of Astoria’s 16 players on the varsity roster are listed as pitchers. Brian Bruney (and his nine years of Major League experience) is serving as a pitching coach for Astoria.
“The pitching rotation sort of sets things up for us defensively,” Fromwiller said. “Our infielders can all pitch, so we sort of have a ‘ring around the infield’ whenever we make a pitching change. It’s kind of musical chairs, where everybody moves over a spot if we make a change on the mound.”
The senior class includes all-league returners Josiah Hirsch, Danny Johnson, Balan Kolee, Burke Matthews and Will Reed, and Calvin Kaul makes a return after missing last season.
In addition to Rush, the juniors include Adam Feldman, Brooks Fromwiller, Ebin Hillard and Ryan Stutznegger.
Coach: Glen Fromwiller, 2nd year
2018: 15-9 (11-4 league)
Playoffs: Lost first-round state playoff vs. Madras, 13-9.
All-league losses: Trey Hageman (MVP), Dylan Matteuci.
All-league returners: Josiah Hirsch, Sr., Danny Johnson, Sr., Balan Kolee, Sr., Burke Matthews, Sr., Will Reed, Sr., Dylan Rush, Jr.