Panthers baseball team hopes to contend for league titleThe WHS baseball team is off to a strong start this season, winning four of its first six games. The Panthers’ strong play hasn’t come as a surprise to coach Zach Carter, who expects his team to “be real strong” this season. “I have high hopes that we’re going to be a league contender, right up there with Ridgefield and Columbia River,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces on varsity this year as we lost most of our starters from last year. I wouldn’t say we’re inexperienced, though, since most, if not all, of our guys have been putting in the work during the offseason and playing travel ball where they’re seeing good competition and high-caliber baseball to get them ready for varsity." WHS will be led by a trio of seniors — catcher /infielder Kaden Halverson, outfielder Tristan Farrell and pitcher Jack Davy. Juniors Trenton Hamilton (second base/pitcher) and Damian Panko (shortstop, pitcher) will also be key members of the Panthers’ lineup and pitching staff. WHS also has several newcomers who have impressed Carter early on. Sophomore Travis Gibson “is looking to become our ace on the mound,” sophomore outfielder Blake Mattern is a “great all-around athlete” and “a force to be reckoned with at the plate” an freshman catcher/infielder Nathaniel Olmos is “good enough to play on varsity right off the bat.” “With COVID stealing our season last year, this is the first time a lot of these guys have been on varsity. With that said, my other coaches and I have high confidence in this team,” Carter said. “The attitude and drive of these players sets them apart from previous teams I’ve coached. These players show up each and every day ready and hungry to learn and improve their craft. A lot of these younger guys are going to make a huge impact for Washougal baseball this year and for years to come. We’re expecting to build off of the hopeful success of this year and create a winning program here in Washougal.”
WHS softball team in for 'interesting year'John Carver is experimenting a bit with his Washougal High School (WHS) fastpitch softball squad this spring, shifting players around the diamond in an effort to identify the team’s best pitchers and defenders. “As we move players around to see who settles in as the starter in each position, our goal as coaches is to play the players where they can make their best contribution to the team,” Carver said. “Player buy-in is important because we will be asking players to play positions that might not be their first choice. Six people see themselves as our shortstop and we need one starter. It should be an interesting year.” Carver’s experiment is still a work in progress — they’ve surrendered 48 runs in their first three games of the season, all defeats. But the Panthers have shown some signs of offensive fortitude — they scored eight runs against visiting Fort Vancouver on Tuesday, March 30, with Chloe Johnson, Erika Barnes and Natalie Collins registering two hits apiece. “We’re young,” Carver said. “The girls are working hard to get better. We are excited to be able to play. We will field the best team we can each game. Our goal is to see consistent performances, get runners on base and play solid defense.”
Tristan Farrell’s first season as the Washougal High School football team’s starting quarterback included six touchdowns, 904 passing yards and an all-2A Greater St. Helens League first-team selection.
Now the senior is making his varsity debut for the Panthers’ baseball team, for which he is starring as an outfielder and middle-of-the-order hitter.
“We have high hopes for him this year as he’ll be one of our starting outfielders and better hitters at the plate. Tristan is an all-around great athlete,” Washougal baseball coach Zach Carter said. “What sets Tristan apart from other players is how much he exudes leadership on and off the field. He’s quieter than most, but leads by example. Many of our players feed off his hard work, positive attitude and overall enthusiasm for the game.”
A three-sport athlete, member of the Washougal High School band and senior currently taking three Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Farrell is as dedicated to his academic studies as he is to his athletic pursuits.
“I’ve definitely been a busy person ever since I was in elementary school,” Farrell said. “But it’s the lifestyle for me. I like it. If I have a goal in front of me or need to get something done, I’m going to do it and not take shortcuts and not think about other things. I’m motivated, dedicated and committed.
“The biggest challenge for me is trying to keep my grades up because I’m constantly busy with practices and playing multiple sports,” he continued. “I have a 3.98 grade-point average and was accepted to the University of Washington, which is hard to get into. My coaches always say that for a student-athlete, the ‘student’ part comes first, so I’m proud of the work that I’ve done in the classroom.”
Having returned to baseball this year after not playing since 2019, Farrell said he was “rusty” during his first few games. Still, he managed to contribute to the Panthers’ efforts, drawing five walks between a 16-3 win over R.A. Long on March 27 and 5-4 loss to Hockinson on March 29.
“In the first two games, I hit fourth and fifth in the lineup, which is usually where you put power guys to drive in runs,” Farrell said. “But I actually walked five times, so I guess my role now is to get on base, which I’m happy to do because I know the guys behind me can drive me in. But I do look forward to getting some hits in the future.”
The 6-foot-3 Farrell — also a power forward for the Panthers’ boys basketball team — has improved as an athlete by getting in better shape and adding a significant amount of weight to his frame over the past several years.
“The biggest thing is that I got stronger,” he said. “As a freshman, I was listed on the football roster as 135 pounds. I was skinny. Now, I weigh 205 pounds. I’ve worked hard in the weight room to get stronger. I feel that work translates to all three sports and improved my (performance).”
Farrell hopes that sports will continue to be a major part of his life going forward. He plans on studying statistics at UW and pursuing a career in sports analytics.
“Math has always been my best subject — it just made sense to me that by following certain formulas, you’ll get a right answer,” he said. “I keep a journal with all sorts of sports information, data and charts, which I use to make my own predictions for games and (win) my fantasy football league. I think it would be fun to have a job where I could combine sports and analytics and use my math skills and crunch data to find ways to help teams win through statistics. That would be a dream job for me.”
“He is a smart kid,” Carter added. “Maintaining those good grades throughout his four years in high school while at the same time competing as a multi-sport varsity athlete demonstrates the determination, organizational skills and work ethic of an admirable young man. He’s a respectable young man, and I have high hopes for him in whatever plans the future holds for him.”