Columbia River baseball coach Stephen Donohue has a luxury.
Every time River plays, Donohue can roll out an ace.
There’s senior Nick Alder, the 2019 2A Greater St. Helens League pitcher of the year, senior Sawyer Parkin, a Tacoma Community College commit, and junior Sam Boyle, a University of Washington commit.
“We have three arms that throw 85-plus,” Donohue said. “You don’t normally have that, which makes it a bummer we don’t have state this year.”
On Monday, it was Alder’s turn to take the ball. And the right-hander pitched a five-inning, two-hit shutout, striking out 11 in a 13-0 win over Woodland.
“Our strength is definitely on the mound,” Alder said. “(We’re) big time deep on the mound, a lot of good arms. But also (it’s) our work ethic. Not playing for a while burns a different fire in you, so you’re excited to be out here.”
River is making up for its lost season in 2020, off to a 5-0 start overall and 3-0 in 2A Greater St. Helens League games.
On Monday, Alder set the tone on the mound, recording eight of his first nine outs by strikeout. He finished with 11 strikeouts.
“Any time he’s pitching we feel like we’re going to have a great chance to win that day,” Donohue said. “And he’s a great leader. He’s like another coach for our program. They all listen to him. He’s a 4.0 student. He’s just everything you’d want in a high school athlete.”
He can also hit, going 3 for 3 with a walk in Monday’s win. Parkin went 2 for 2 with a walk, Walker Atkins was 2 for 3 with three RBI and Keith Blau was 2 for 2.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum right now,” Alder said.
And while River won’t get to play in the state tournament this year, the team still have a postseason test to look forward to.
“They’ve kind of set a goal to be as good as they can be,” Donohue said. “We’ll have a district tournament at the end of the year, so we’ll get to see Tumwater and W.F. West, which are two of the best teams in the state regardless of level. That’s got the guys kind of excited that we’re going to have that.”
But wherever it ends, Alder also said his teammates just want to enjoy the ride.
“That’s definitely a big thing for us this year, not getting to get that deep state run,” Alder said. “We’re all still trying to have as much fun as we can, for a lot of us, our last season. We’re trying to embrace it all.”