Moses Lake put the buzz back in the ballpark with its return to the 4A state baseball tournament for the first time since 2015.
In their first season under manager Donnie Lindgren, the Chiefs (17-5) won the Columbia Basin Big Nine league championship and advanced to the state quarterfinals with a win over Mead. As a program, the Chiefs put the CBBN on notice and the league coaches did notice, recognizing 12 players and one coach with all-league honors.
Lindgren was named the coach of the year. Moses Lake senior Austin Valdez (6-0) was named the pitcher of the year. Junior third baseman Dominic Signorelli was named the player of the year for the Chiefs, which returned to the 4A state tournament for the first time since 2015.
“This means a lot in the fact that the other coaches saw what our players were doing as a group. It's been awhile since we went 15-3 (during the regular season). We turned it around in a single season and they recognized that,” Lindgren said.
Valdez finished the season with a 6-0 record and an ERA of 1.28 in 33 innings pitched. The big right-hander allowed 27 hits, giving up eight earned runs, while striking out 25 and walking just five with winning percentage of 9.70.
“He wasn't a big strikeout guy. The thing with Austin is that he pitched to contact and let his defense work behind him,” Lindgren said. “He had confidence in his defense and that's what we were asking of all our pitchers. He did a great job.”
Signorelli added some pop to the lineup, finishing the season with a batting average of .542 hitting out of the three-hole. The junior also had a slugging percentage of .712, striking out just four times in 75 plate appearances. He had 18 RBIs and scored 23 times in his first season as the starting third baseman.
“Dom hit well over .500 and tied for second with RBIs. He stayed in the three-hole all year and there were times he was pitched around because two all-leaguers were hitting in front of him,” Lindgren said. “He's the guy in our lineup they had to worry about.
“It's very rewarding as a coach that other coaches around the league recognize us for our efforts.”
The laundry list didn't just stop with the player of the year or coach of the year selections. Big Nine coaches recognized the efforts of four first-team selections, four second-teamers and two honorable mentions from a team that had six starters, who were on either the junior varsity or freshman team last year.
The all-Big Nine first team selections included, senior Jordan Rios (starting pitcher), junior Evan McLean (center field), junior Emmitt Tatum (designated hitter), and sophomore Dax Lindgren (first base). McLean, who was the only Chief to make the list as both a position player and a relief pitcher, finished the season hitting .322 with 15 RBIs. He also was 1-0 on the mound with one save and an ERA of 2.333.
Rios (5-0) worked 36.1 innings as a starter, striking out 28, walking eight and finishing up his high school career with an ERA of 1.349. Tatum finished with an on-base percentage of 1.091 to go along with a .452 batting average. Dax Lindgren wrapped up his first varsity season hitting .364 in 77 plate appearances.
Big 9 all-league selections
Coach of the year: Donnie Lindgren
Player of the year: Dominic Signorelli,
Pitcher of the year: Austin Valdez
Dax Lindgren, first base
Evan McLean, center field
Emmitt Tatum, designated hitter
Jordan Rios, starting pitcher
Zach Valdez, second base
Cody Alvarado, shortstop
Vance Alvarado, starting pitcher
Evan McLean, relief pitcher
Cody Goodwin, catcher
Gabe Passey, left field
In other news, the Chiefs handed out there team awards Tuesday night during the end-of-season banquet. Those awards include:
Dave Heaverlo most feared pitcher award: Vance Alvarado
Ryan Doumit most feared hitter award: Dominic Signorelli
BJ Garbe rookie of the year award: Dax Lindgren
Jason Cooper best defensive player award: Zach Valdez
Coaches award: Kameron Huberdeau
JV coaches award: Tre Spencer
Freshmen coaches award: Merritt Jansen