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May 27
YVCC baseball shuts out Chemeketa to open NWAC tournament

​Yakima Herald Republic

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Although the stage and circumstances were vastly different, Thursday seemed to be just an other day at the office for Yakima Valley’s baseball team.

With Kasey Bailey and Brandon Smith banging out three hits each and Chris Petrosie and Dakota Weindell combining on a shutout, the Yaks handled Chemeketa 5-0 in an NWAC Tournament opener at Lower Columbia College’s David Story Field.

The victory sends YVCC (31-16) into a 4:30 p.m. winner’s bracket game today against Everett. The Trojans downed Treasure Valley 2-1 earlier Thursday.​

Everett is ranked second in the most recent NWAC coaches poll while Yakima Valley is tied for third.

Isaac Mitchum will get the start today for the Yaks.

“The kids went out there today and did what they’ve done all year,” Yaks coach Kyle Krustangel said. “Chris and Dakota were very solid and overall our pitching and defense were fantastic. Offensively we did a great job of executing and scoring runs when we had opportunities.”

Bailey and Smith each drove in runs for the Yaks, who totaled 10 hits and played errorless defense. Karsten Sherman had two hits and also drove in a run, while Connor Anderson had an RBI.

Bailey had a triple and Kyler Brudwick doubled.

Petrosie, who improved to 10-3, scattered eight hits through seven innings, striking out six and walking one, after which Weindell allowed two hits, walked none and fanned two over the final two innings.

“We played one of the the most complete games we’ve played all year,” Krustangel said, “and that’s impressive for guys that weren’t here last year. You can’t re-create the atmosphere here. It’s a great time of year to have all three phases of your game working.”

YVCC played Everett four times during the early season, losing three.

“I’m sure we’re both different baseball teams right now than we were in March,” Krustangel said. “There will be two good arms out there tomorrow, and at this time of year it’s pitching and defense.”

The eight-team, double-elimination tournament runs through Monday.

Chemeketa 000 000 000 — 0 10 2

Yakima Valley 100 121 00x — 5 10 0

Jackson, Vasbinder (6), Goodman (8) and Duty; Petrosie, Weindell (8) and Ferguson.

YVCC highlights: Kasey Bailey 3-4, 2 runs, 3b, RBI; Brandon Smith 3-4, RBI; Connor Anderson RBI; Kyler Brudwick 1-3, 2 runs; Karsten Sherman 2-4, RBI.​

May 25
Steady YVCC baseball set for NWAC tournament

​Yakima Herald Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Granted, it’s not like the 162 games played by big leaguers each season, but the 28-game league schedule played by NWAC baseball teams still more closely resembles a marathon than a sprint.

Which is why Yakima Valley has been well served this spring by having a short memory during a long season.

“You go through the grind of a 28-game league schedule and you’re going to have bumps in the road,” Yaks coach Kyle Krustangel said during a recent practice at Parker Faller Field. “So the most important thing becomes what team can have one bad day stop at one bad day.”

En route to a 30-16 season record and East Region-winning 20-8 mark, YVCC did in fact have bad days. But the Yaks weathered their adversity well enough to outlast Treasure Valley and Columbia Basin by a game each in the regional race, and will thereby open NWAC Tournament play at 12:35 p.m. Thursday at Lower Columbia’s David Story Field in Longview.

YVCC, tied for third in last week’s NWAC coaches poll, will meet unranked Chemeketa (30-18) in the first round of the eight-team, double-elimination event.

Talent? Yakima Valley has a considerable number of players who are highly skilled for their level of play, but first-year mentor Krustangel said the team’s success has transcended ability.

“First of all, we knew as a coaching staff that we had a very talented group,” he said. “But also we knew that talent can only take you so far. To win consistently requires leaders, and it requires full buy-in from the players regarding your system and philosophy.”

And of course beyond the statistics — and the Yaks are solid in pitching (2.96 team ERA), hitting (.274 team batting average) and defense (.957 fielding percentage) — there are numbers within the numbers.

During Yakima Valley’s well-chronicled six-game losing streak in March, for example, five of the defeats came against teams ranked in last week’s NWAC coaches top eight.

And Krustangel cited another stat that no doubt loomed large in the team’s well-chronicled 14-game winning streak that followed the aforementioned losing skid.

“We’ve outscored our opponents by 51 runs in the first inning this season,” he said. “That’s a huge tone-setter.”

And it speaks volumes for YVCC’s starting rotation, anchored by sophomores Chris Petrosie and Isaac Mitchum along with freshman Hunter Boyd, along with the top of Krustangel’s batting order.

Leadoff man Kasey Bailey, a .294 hitter, has scored a team-best 49 runs which is tied for the NWAC lead. Connor Anderson, hitting .342, has driven in 36 runs out of the cleanup spot with Bailey totaling 33 RBI and Alec Chaney, the No. 3 hitter, at 32.

An extreme example of YVCC’s early offense came on April 27 against Spokane when the Yaks batted around not once but twice in the first inning, and scored all their runs in a 12-2 rout.

“It comes down to the same fundamentals you teach 10-year-olds,” Krustangel said. “You throw strikes, you put the ball in play and you play defense.

“And now we get to apply all this to playoff baseball, which makes it really fun.”​

May 25
The past is prologue at YVC — minus a C

​Yakima Herald Republic

Trends come and go in higher education, not only in curricula but in the names of the institutions themselves. In the case of Yakima’s local public college, the name has come, gone and come back again.

The trustees of Yakima Valley Community College, which will revert to Yakima Valley College next month, decided that for among other reasons, “YVC” better reflects its academic offerings. The college now offers two bachelor’s degrees: a business management degree and an information technology degree. Come this fall, it will add a bachelor’s in dental hygiene, and 2017 will bring a fourth bachelor’s program. These courses reflect legislative authorization that was granted in 2012.

The change also reflects that many primarily two-year colleges in this state are getting away from the “community” codicil to their names —Seattle, Highline and Green River among them. YVC went by that name from 1962 until 1977, when it added the “Community;” the colloquial YVC never really went away, and an all-campus survey found overwhelming support for the move.

Any access to bachelor’s degrees is a welcome development in the Yakima Valley. But in a school that enrolls about 4,500 full- and part-time students, the new but relatively few offerings haven’t diverted the college — and shouldn’t — from its main mission of offering two-year degrees that make students more employable, and allow students to attain credits that can transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

A more-coordinated transfer system has been a higher-ed goal in this state in recent years, and the efforts appear to be paying off. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges reports that 82 percent of this state’s community college students who transfer with an associate’s degree earn a bachelor’s degree after six years — that’s twice the national average.

Given the academic setting, it’s almost too easy to go Shakespearean and apply his “What’s in a name?” question/quote to the soon-to-be YVC. Several names — YVCC, YVC and their antecedent Yakima Valley Junior College — encompass a proud history that goes back to 1928 as one of the state’s first community colleges. The old/new name reflects an institution that is expanding four-year opportunities for its students, but in the process is staying true to its school mission of almost 90 years.​

May 21
YVCC baseball's efficient Mitchum makes quick work of foes

​Yakima Herald Republic

by Roger Underwood


YAKIMA, Wash. -- It is a number that no one in today’s statistically saturated baseball fraternity is aware of or cares about. And even Isaac Mitchum is uncertain as to its exactness.

What the Yakima Valley pitcher does know is that by the time the opposition has left the field at the end of a half inning, has entered its dugout and has had its leadoff hitter grab a bat, Mitchum has completed his allowed five warmup pitches in rapid-fire fashion and is standing firmly on the mound, ball in hand, ready to go.

“I’ve never actually timed it,” Mitchum said, having estimated that he finishes between-inning tosses in 20 to 25 seconds. “I just want to be sure that before their first hitter gets a helmet on and is even close to being ready, I am.”

A premeditated attempt at speeding up the game? Not really.

It’s more a part of Mitchum’s mindset, one in which he above all others dictates what happens on the field, and when.

“It’s tempo,” he said. “When their team comes off the field I want to get out there and be ready, and I think that helps our whole team be ready to play defense. The other thing is that with their hitters coming in, I don’t want to give ’em any time.”

Time to dig in, for example, or get comfortable.

This season the sophomore right-hander from Highland has been highly effective at keeping hitters out of their comfort zone — not to mention off base — emerging as a key component of a Yaks team that’s celebrating an East Region championship and accompanying berth in next week’s NWAC Tournament.

Mitchum’s contribution has been huge.

He’s compiled a 5-1 record and 2.51 ERA while working 712/3 innings — numbers which rank second on the team only to fellow soph Chris Petrosie (9-3, 2.48, 76).

“Without Isaac,” first-year coach Kyle Krustangel said, “I doubt that we’d be in this position. He’s wanted to be a starter, he’s worked for everything he’s gotten and he’s improved as the season’s progressed.

“His last five outings have been nothing short of phenomenal.”

Which of course helped YVCC secure its first regional title since 2012 and gives the Yaks, who are tied for third in the most recent NWAC rankings, reason for optimism going into the tournament next Thursday through Monday at Longview.

Having excelled as both a pitcher and catcher for Highland, Mitchum was recruited to Yakima Valley by Krustangel’s predecessor, Marcus McKimmy, as a mound prospect. Three of Mitchum’s older brothers — he has five brothers and seven sisters — had played at YVCC, after all.

And if 2015 wasn’t a statistical success for the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder — Mitchum pitched just three innings and allowed four earned runs — he used the experience as a foundation for this year.

“It actually was a good year for me to learn what I needed to do to pitch at this level,” he said. “In 1A ball I got by with how fast I threw, that and my bender (curveball).”

So he’s complemented his fastball, which typically hits the mid-80s on a radar gun, with his curve and also has developed more confidence in a changeup.

Actually, Mitchum has developed more confidence, period.

“Pitching is very psychological, very mental,” he said. “That’s one of the things I like about it. And at the same time, confidence comes with preparation.

“The fastball is my favorite pitch because I can place it pretty much wherever I want. Then I can work a hitter into situations where I know that if I throw a certain pitch to a certain spot, I can get the hitter to pop up or maybe to roll over on it and hit a ground ball.”

​Hence the opposition’s .232 batting average against Mitchum this season.

But in addition to the velocity and command of his three-pitch arsenal is the aforementioned tempo.

The epitome of a fast-working pitcher, Mitchum wastes no time. He gets the ball, gets the sign from his catcher, rocks and fires.

The message is that he, the pitcher, is in charge.

“It’s great,” said first baseman Conner Anderson, the team’s leading hitter, after Mitchum went seven innings, allowed four hits while striking out three and walking one in an 8-0 shutout of Blue Mountain on May 11. “It’s fun to play when he’s pitching. Isaac doesn’t mess around.”

He doesn’t lose much, either.

And that makes it fun for all the Yaks.​

May 20
Yakima Valley Community College changes name back to Yakima Valley College



YAKIMA, Wash. - Yakima Valley Community College is changing back to Yakima Valley College according to a news release from the school.

The Yakima Valley Community College Board of Trustees voted to return to the name that was used for the school back in the 60s and 70s.

The college was approved to offer bachelor degree programs of applied sciences in 2012 by the Washington State Legislature according to a news release from the school.

The school was originally known as Yakima Valley College in 1928 when it was established. The name was then changed to Yakima Valley Junior College from 1930 to 1961, and changed back to Yakima Valley College from 1962 to 1977, when it was further changed to Yakima Valley Community College in 1978.

The name change will take effect June 1​.

May 20
Yakima Valley Community College to change name back to Yakima Valley College on June 1

​Yakima Herald Republic

by Rafael Guerrero


YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima Valley Community College will go by a new name beginning next month.

The college’s board of trustees has voted to revert to a former moniker, Yakima Valley College.

The name was last used from 1962-77. The school’s previous names include Yakima Valley Junior College, from 1930-61, and YVCC from 1977 through June 1 of this year.

Recent additions of applied bachelor’s degree programs to its catalog — as well as future programs already in motion — prompted trustees to rethink their name.

“While nationally nearly half of the states have granted similar authority to their community colleges, employers in the rest of the states may misunderstand or fail to value the quality of the bachelor degrees we confer,” YVCC President Linda Kaminski said in a written statement.

“In order to not disadvantage bachelor degree graduates, some of our state community colleges have decided to change their name. Using the college’s former name does not change our mission. Yakima Valley College will always focus on serving the educational needs of the communities we serve.”

- This story will be updated.​

May 20
Yakima Valley Community College dropping the 'Community' from name


YAKIMA, WA -- Yakima Valley Community College is dropping the 'Community' from its name.

The school's board of trustees voted to change its name back to Yakima Valley College.

YVCC went by its former name from 1962 to 1977 before changing it to Yakima Valley Community College.

Read Full Story​

May 19
Adam Strom named new YVCC women's basketball coach

​Yakima Herald Republic

As the emotional tug-of-war evolved regarding Adam Strom’s pursuit of the Yakima Valley women’s basketball coaching job, it seemed natural that his three sons would weigh in.

“One of my twins, who’s an 8th-grader, said, ‘Hey dad, how about you try it for one year,’” Adam Strom recalled. “‘And then my older son, Isiah, who’s a sophomore, said, ‘It doesn’t work that way. When dad does something, he’s gonna commit.’”

So Strom, who last season led a Yakama Tribal School team that included his own flesh and blood to the program’s first state tournament appearance, has opted for another challenge. He will try to rejuvenate a downtrodden YVCC women’s program, having been named head coach Wednesday.

“I’m excited,” said Strom, 39, who has coached successfully for more than 15 years at the prep level. “It was a little tougher decision to leave Yakama Tribal since I have three boys in the program. I even tried to keep it a secret from them, but they eventually heard I got the job.”

Strom said his staff will include Akil White, who assisted at the college last season, along with former Yaks standout Andrea Blodgett.

“We felt we had a good group of applicants,” said Yakima Valley athletic director Ray Funk, who is also the men’s head coach. “We interviewed seven or eight, and we felt like we had a top two or three.

“We never did rank them, we just went with strengths and weaknesses. And as the process continued, Adam’s strengths came shining through.”

Strom’s prep history includes coaching White Swan’s girls — who included Blodgett — from 2001-05. The Cougars won SCAC titles in 2004 and 2005 and finished fourth in the Class 1A state tournament in 2005.

He moved on to the Wapato boys from 2006-11 and took the Wolves to three state tourneys. After two years at Hermiston, Ore., where the Bulldogs won a league championship in his second season, Strom came to Yakama Tribal in Toppenish where he has taught and coached the past three years.

His wife of 17 years, Relyn, is the school’s principal, and Blodgett is currently a teacher there.

“Every coach wants to win a state title,” Strom said, “and with eight players returning at Tribal that could happen. But then I thought what I’d really like to do is coach at the next level.

“Some coaches might overlook junior colleges as being the next level, but to me if it’s college it’s the next level. And I didn’t think twice about whether I’m coaching men or women. To me, I’m coaching athletes.”

His task at Yakima Valley will be to restore a women’s program that reached the NWAC Tournament in each of Cody Butler’s nine seasons as head coach, making the title game three straight years and winning it all in 2011, but then steadily declined.

After Butler left in 2012 to become a women’s assistant at Boise State, Greg Oldham’s teams went a collective 33-80 including 16-67 over the past three years. After a 3-25 finish last season that saw the Yaks lose their last 21 games, Oldham resigned. He will continue as the college’s assistant athletic director until the end of this month.

Strom will probably continue teaching at Yakama Tribal, Funk said, and the future of YVCC's assistant athletic director’s position is unclear.​

May 19
YVCC baseball tied for No. 3 in newest NWAC poll

​Yakima Herald Republic

Yakima Valley’s East Region championship baseball team is tied for third in the newest NWAC baseball coaches poll.

The rankings, released Wednesday, had the Yaks (30-16) tied with Bellevue (32-16) for No. 3 behind Lower Columbia (33-12) and Everett (35-11), respectively.

Closing out the top eight were, in order, Tacoma (32-11), Mt. Hood (26-17), Skagit Valley (25-19) and Pierce (29-13).

Yakima Valley will open play in the NWAC Tournament next Thursday at 12:35 p.m. at Lower Columbia’s David Story Field in Longview. YVCC will meet either Walla Walla, Chemeketa or Skagit Valley in the first round.​

May 19
Tour will give inside look at Yakima Valley Artists' homes, lives

​Yakima Herald Republic


YAKIMA, Wash. -- A turn-of-the-century barn, a performance by a mariachi band and all kinds of art and artists will greet guests of the 17th Annual Tour of Artists’ Homes and Studios this weekend.

The aforementioned turn-of-the-century barn at Happy Hen Ranch was built by Peg Granitto’s great-grandfather, Charles Russell, in 1910.

Peg and Andy Granitto decided they wanted to restore the barn and they wanted the barn as the destination for their wedding. Thus their “happy place” was born.

Also at the Happy Hen Ranch on Saturday will be Curt Rosenkranz, a Vikingsmith metalworker who will be demonstrating his blacksmith skills and creativity.

Jennifer Noel, whose photography has appeared most recently in Yakima magazine, will be there with her work, as will Andy Behrle, who will create a light installation titled “Barn Quilt.”

Sammie’s Souper Sandwiches will be on site as well.

The home of Carol De Grave will also be featured, along with her studio. Both were built by Carol and her partner, Bruce Barnes, out of mud bricks and stucco.

They even gathered Latillas from the forest near White Pass to fashion the ceiling in her studio.

In addition to Carol and her ceramics, Sue Grimshaw will have her African-themed work, Katie Hall will be bringing her signature jewelry and Debbie Sundlee will have her ceramic ware for sale.

Well-known oil and acrylic painter Penn O. Shelton is opening her home, which is also her studio, to the public. She has invited Michelle Wyles to show her ceramics and Carol Von Stubbe to show her collage work.

Leo Adams will host many artists showing their work, including Karen Quint, Jane Gutting, Jennifer Finch, Ann Bowker, Richard Nicksic, Cheryl LaFlamme and Greg Pierce. Adams has been working most recently with a collage that still captures his connection to the natural world.

​And Raul Hernandez, a folk artist who captures the colorful influence of Mexico in his painted chairs and other art, is also a member of a popular mariachi band. The band has agreed to play at 3 p.m. at his home on the day of the tour.

Yesenia Hunter will be showing her work, and there is a chance that her husband, James, may provide musical entertainment.

And at the home of Wilma Dulin, guests will meet a respected member of the Yakima Valley Community College staff who has been making quilts and other tempting items out of cloth for years.

Dulin has invited several art teachers to show their specialties at her home this year. Expect Rachel Dorn, David Lynx, Jennifer Saracino, John Bisonette, Timm Wauzynski and Justin Martin.

For more information about Saturday’s tour,

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