EvCC men set to begin postseason play

Having already soared to new heights this season, the Everett Community College baseball team is taking aim at some bigger prizes in the coming weeks.

The Trojans, who have matched the school record for single-season wins with 34, will tune up for next week’s Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships by hosting the league’s Northern Region tournament today, Friday and Sunday at Everett Memorial Stadium.

The double-elimination event will bring together the top four teams in the region’s regular-season standings — Everett (21-3 in league, 34-7 overall) Edmonds (15-9, 25-17), Bellevue (13-11, 26-17) and Skagit Valley (12-12, 21-18).

Everett has already clinched a spot in the NWAACC championships, based on its regular-season record. The other three teams will be vying for the region’s second berth.

The Trojans are not only this week’s host team, but also the hottest team of the bunch, having won three straight games, 13 of their last 14, and 21 of their last 23. And coach Levi Lacey expects the Trojans to be at their best, despite knowing they already have a guaranteed spot in the NWAACC tournament.

“This group is just too mature to come in and fall down,” he said. “Knowing the mentality of my team, they’re going to go out and play to win from here on out.

“They’re not content to just be where they’re at. The plan is to not stop until they end up in the very last game (at the NWAACC championships), and then to end up on top in that game. I don’t see them slowing down until someone stops us.”

Offensively, Everett is led by shortstop Max Whitt with a .388 batting average and 43 runs, and first baseman Daniel Orr, who is hitting .352 with an NWAACC-best 43 RBI. JoJo Howie is the team’s top pitcher with an 8-0 mark and a 1.73 ERA, while Alex Koeplin and Gunnar Swanson are both 7-2.

Everett has excelled this season with “consistency in all three aspects — pitching, hitting and defense,” Lacey said. “If we do all three right, we win handily. And I’ll tell you what, we pretty much do two out of three every game.

“These guys take care of the ball, they throw strikes, they hit situationally, they don’t take lapses and they don’t panic. Even when we go down (to defeat), there’s no panic in our dugout. They just go, ‘Hey, we gave it up, and now we’ve got to do our job and go forward.’ And they do that without blinking an eye.”

Edmonds will face Bellevue at 4 p.m. today, with the Trojans meeting Skagit Valley at 7 p.m. Thursday’s losers play at 1 p.m. Friday in a loser-out game, while Thursday’s winners play at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to Sunday’s championship round. The winner of Friday’s first game then plays the loser of the second game at 7 p.m. in another loser-out game.

The two remaining teams meet at noon Sunday and again at 3 p.m. if a second game is necessary in the double-elimination event.

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