Prep Baseball & Softball

PREP BASEBALL PREVIEW: Nooksack Valley Pioneers

Coach: Scott Gelwicks

Last year: Tied for 10th in the Northwest Conference with a 4-8 record. ... Ended season after going 1-1 during the Class 1A Tri-District Tournament, finishing 11-13 overall.

Players to watch: Curtis Handy (sr., C); Noah Rawls (jr., P); Tanner Myhre (sr., INF); Ryan Gelwicks (sr., P/OF); Brady Wood (sr., INF)

Outlook: Each of the past four years Nooksack Valley has improved. The Pioneers advanced to last season’s tri-district tournament, but this spring, with seven or eight returning starters and 11 seniors, could be the club’s true breakout year. “I feel really good about it,” Nooksack Valley coach Scott Gelwicks said in a phone interview. “This year we could surprise some people. I just think we are strong. Does that mean we will win every game? That is tough, but does it mean we will competitive in every game? Basically.” Headlining the Pioneers returners is catcher Curtis Handy, who was one of the league’s better hitters last season, No. 1 pitcher Noah Rawls, outfielder Ryan Gelwicks and second baseman Brady Wood. Senior Tanner Myhre, Scott said, is moving to become the Pioneers full-time shortstop to shore up the defense. Rawls could be poised for a breakout year on the mound, Scott said, and Ryan and senior Parker Schram add to what should be a strong rotation. “We’ve really been talking about what it takes to be a winner and instilling the attitude of, ‘We are going to win,’” Scott said.