And each year that means the renewal of one of Snohomish County's best sports rivalries -- Edmonds vs. Everett, two of the state's premier community college baseball programs.
As geographic neighbors and on-field adversaries, the Tritons and Trojans are annual contenders in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Northern Division. Four times in the last nine years they have finished 1-2 in the standings.
And when the two teams meet, "they're the most intense games we play all season long, hands down," said Everett CC coach Levi Lacey. "It doesn't matter if it's a preseason non-league game or a game to get to the NWAACC (postseason tournament). They're tough and we're tough, and when we play we really get after it.
"It's the neighborhood players going against each other," he said, "and now let's see who the best team is."
"It's a fun rivalry," agreed Edmonds CC coach Brad Ditter. "I think it's a lot more fun for the kids because they know each other. They've played high school baseball against each other, and (some) have played with each other."
Oftentimes, Ditter added, "we're matched up with Everett in the last week of the season, and there's always a lot riding on those games."
Judging from wins and losses in recent years, there's not a lot of difference between the programs. Over the last nine seasons they have nearly identical records, with Edmonds CC going 287-119 (a .707 winning percentage) and Everett CC at 268-128 (.677).
But over the last six seasons the numbers swing to Everett CC. The Trojans are 182-93 (.662) since 2006 while the Tritons are 169-96 (.638).
Since 2003, Edmonds CC has finished above Everett CC in the division standings five times, while the Trojans have finished higher four times.
The one statistic where Edmonds CC has a decided edge is perhaps the most important -- championships. The Tritons have a 4-1 lead in division titles over the last nine years, and can boast three NWAACC tournament crowns to boot (2008, 2003, 2002).
The two programs compete in recruiting, too, with both relying heavily on local talent. Roughly two-thirds of Everett CC's 2012 roster is from Snohomish County or north King County. For Edmonds CC, the percentage of local products this season is about half.
"There's a long history of good players coming out of this area," said Lacey, who is starting his 11th season as Trojans coach. "It's a hotbed of talent, it really is. Throughout the whole (Western Conference area), there are not only pro prospects and Division I prospects, but there's an abundance of CC players, too.
"It just seems like Snohomish County is full of kids committed to doing the work and becoming good players," he said.
"We take players from anywhere," said Ditter, the Tritons' fifth-year coach, "but the Snohomish County area has a plethora of talent. It's kind of a hidden gem from around the country, and the number of guys out of this area who are drafted (by major league teams) or who move on to big (Division I) conferences is living proof of that.
"If you look at any (Division I) conference in the country, you'll find a guy from our league in it," Ditter said.
As they prepare for the coming NWAACC season, the Tritons and Trojans can expect to face more challengers than just each other. Bellevue (the defending NWAACC champion) and Skagit Valley colleges have strong programs, too, and the seven-team division gets just two spots in the postseason league tournament.
"Our goal at the end of the season is not just to beat Everett," Ditter said. "The goals we have every year are to win a Northern Division title and an NWAACC title."
But to do that, he added, "sometimes we have to go through Everett."
More Sports Headlines
Silvertips acquire left wing Ralph from Edmonton Seahawks coaches expect improvement on offensive line Felix and Mariners fall 4-3 to Angels Lynch's mom calls for Seahawks to fire offensive coordinator Bevell Sounders’ Torres likely out 6-9 months with knee injury Ducks' coach Helfrich won't talk about QB Adams' injured finger Police: Man in Vikings jersey kicked, punched outside 49ers stadium A-Rod homers, moves pass Biggio into 21st place on all-time hit list
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.