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Freeman’s McKabe Cottrell is 8-0 on the mound and has hit .554 this season. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Prep state baseball: Experience through adversity drives Freeman in third straight final four

The conclusion to an often soggy and cold spring prep baseball season should occur under mostly sunny skies with seasonable temperatures this weekend at various locations across the state.

The Greater Spokane League was shut out of state participants this season, but three Spokane-area teams are still alive to vie for a title.

1A

Northeast A League champion Freeman (21-2) plays in a semifinal against Cedar Park Christian (23-2) at 1 p.m. at Yakima County Stadium in Yakima on Friday, and the state title game is on Saturday at 4 p.m. In the latest MaxPreps.com rankings, Freeman enters play at the top-ranked 1A team in the state, with Cedar Park ranked No. 4.

The lousy spring weather affected Freeman like most of the other schools in the eastern part of the state – the Scotties didn’t get on a field at all until their first games of the season, when they dropped a doubleheader to Overlake in Redmond on March 11. They haven’t lost since.

“Our first time on a field was the night before and went out and played in pouring rain,” Freeman coach Chad Ripke said. “It was evident (Overlake) had been out on the field and we hadn’t. We’ve had to battle back from being inside, doing what we could do.”

Overlake, ranked third in the state, was bounced from the state tournament 7-6 in the quarterfinals by unranked King’s Way Christian, which faces No. 2 Cashmere on Friday at 10 a.m. in the other semifinal.

The Scotties didn’t get on their home field until April 24. That didn’t stop this senior-laden team from running the rest of their schedule, outscoring their league opponents 185-15.

It’s the fourth consecutive season this group of seniors has been to state, with three trips to the final four and an 81-17 record over four years, including 55-2 in league. Still, the title has eluded them to this point.

“They’ve won a lot of games and had a lot of success along the way,” Ripke said. “I guess the only thing missing is the gold ball. That’s what they’ve get as their goal from the get-go at the beginning of the year. They wanted to win a state championship.

“They’ve given themselves that opportunity this weekend where 60 other teams are sitting at home from the 1A level. They’re going to play in their third straight final four. To do that is pretty dang special.”

Freeman is led by McKabe Cottrell, who has committed to continue his baseball career at Gonzaga next year. On the mound, Cottrell is 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 55 innings. He’s no slouch at the plate, either. He set several several school records this season, hitting .554 with 41 hits, 16 doubles, seven home runs and 56 RBIs. Perhaps most impressive – Cottrell has struck out just once in 91 plate appearances.

Cottrell was named league co-MVP with teammate Desmond Parisotto, who went 7-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 53 Ks in 45 innings, while hitting .562 with 27 RBIs. Fellow senior Simon Rooney was sidelined a while with a rotator cuff injury but came back to hit .344 with 18 RBIs and go 3-0 without allowing an earned run on the hill.

Rooney picked up the win on the mound in the regional round of state with two innings of scoreless relief of Cottrell in an 2-1, 10-inning game against Naches Valley last Saturday. Cottrell hit the winning home run in the 10th after striking out 13 over eight innings. Parisotto then tossed a four-hitter in a quarterfinal 9-0 win over Connell.

It’s more than a three-man team, though. Shortstop J.T. Neely has earned four-time, first-team all-league honors and set a school record with 41 runs this season. Ripke went out of his way to mention catcher Konner Freudenthal’s defensive prowess.

It adds up to an impressive run for this collection of student-athletes, who have also won two academic state championships as well.

“Not many programs in the whole area or in the state could even say they’ve been to three consecutive final fours,” Ripke said. “Whether we win the whole dang thing is just gravy on top.”

2B

Colfax (22-2) faces Wahkiakum (11-8) in a semifinal on Friday at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Field in Centralia. The title game is Saturday at 1 p.m. Colfax is ranked fifth in state while Wahkiakum is sixth.

In the other semifinal, fourth-ranked Tri-Cities Prep (18-4) faces No. 9 Napavine (9-12).

Colfax ran roughshod over the Northeast 2B League this season with 12-0 slate in league play and coasted through the regional rounds of state. In the first game last Saturday, the Bulldogs beat Liberty Bell 12-2 as Danny Robinson tossed a complete-game, six-inning five-hitter. In the quarterfinals they took care of Brewster 14-4 as Parker Huber scattered four hits.

1B

Almira/Coulee-Hartline (25-0) faces Pomeroy (18-4) in the title game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Wheeler Field. It’s the second time in three years Pomeroy has played in the championship game.

ACH beat Evergreen Lutheran 3-1 in the first round of state on Saturday, then knocked off Naselle 10-3 in the semifinals. Pomeroy beat Sunnyside Christian 14-0, then topped Odessa-Harrington 5-1 in the semis.