Sequim grads, seniors eye new beginnings

Wagner signs

with Sea Warriors

Bring on the surf and the sand.

Chad Wagner is leaving the rather damp and dark springtime weather of Washington state for sunnier skies when he toes the mound of the University of Hawaii-Pacific in the fall.

Wagner, a 2006 Sequim High graduate, had a banner season for Lower Columbia College, perhaps the perennial best team in the Northwest Association of Community Colleges. Wagner, one of the team’s captains, was 8-1 with a 1.26 earned-run-average, racking up a 6.5 -1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For his exploits, Wagner was named First Team Western Division pitcher, First Team All-NWAACC pitcher and — showing he can rule the books as well as the pitching mound — earned First Team All-Academic in the conference.

Only one thing eluded Wagner and the Red Devils: an NWAACC title.

Needing one win in two games against Edmonds, Lower Columbia fell 4-3 in 13 innings in game one and 6-4 in the nightcap.

“It was devastating,” Wagner said. “We hadn’t lost two games in a row all year.”

There wasn’t anyone blaming Wagner, who struck out five, walked one and gave up one run in five-and-a-third innings in game one, the heartbreaker. In more than 10 innings pitched in the NWAACC tournament, Wagner got exactly zero runs of support from an otherwise potent Lower Columbia offense.

“That absolutely killed me, “ he said.

Wagner’s plans were settled well before the tourney. He and fellow Red Devil Bas Nooij, a catcher from Holland, signed on to play at Hawaii-Pacific, a Division II school.

“That program is being completely turned around … and still has the work ethic that LCC had,” Wagner said, after inking a deal in December for an 80-percent scholarship. “I want to get drafted (and) … it’s a great opportunity to be seen.”

The Sequim grad is hoping scouts notice his much-improved offspeed pitch and his low-90s fastball, either in Hawaii or for the Kitsap County-based Blue Jackets of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. Four Blue Jackets were drafted in the Major League First-Year Player Draft last week.

“I’m going to school to be a chiropractor,” Wagner says, “ But I really want to play professional baseball.”

Chinn picks LCC

A hitting machine heads to a baseball factory.

A key bat — and key outfielder — for the Sequim High Wolves’ varsity squad for four seasons, Yolanda Chinn is headed to one of the most successful community colleges in the Northwest after signing to play for the Lower Columbia Red Devils.

Chinn was an all-league center fielder in her senior season after hitting .406 and smacking two doubles, a triple, three home runs and five RBIs. The postseason honor was her second consecutive all-league first team honor and third overall.

Chinn says she heeded the advice of friend from Port Angeles to give Lower Columbia a chance, considering the school’s dynasty-like track record; the Red Devils have won nine NWAACC championships in the past 10 years.

“I did a tryout and the coach (Tim Mackin) said I had a really good swing,” Chinn says. “He said as long as I’m hitting the way I am right now, I’ll start.”

A scholarship offer followed, and the Sequim senior had her sights set. But don’t expect the three-sport star to try her hand at hoops or soccer like she did back in Sequim; Chinn says coaches want her to focus on softball.

“With softball and school, it’ll probably be enough,” Chinn says.

An Olympic Peninsula pitcher plans on joining her in Longview this fall, but it won’t be teammate Carly Swingle, who signed with Peninsula College this spring. Instead, Aly Rae of Port Angeles, a foe of Sequim’s for years with the Roughriders and the Chimacum Cowboys, signed to play for Lower Columbia as well.

“It’ll be tough (to leave home), but I’m definitely ready to go on my own,” says the Sequim softball star.

Chinn says she’s aiming for a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and physical education, and might want to coach someday.

Editor’s note: Look in next week’s Gazette for more Sequim athletes seeking athletic glory in college.

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