One of the top community college programs in the northwest will supply the AppleSox with three players for the 2010 season.
Lower Columbia College, located in Longview, WA, has won the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Championship nine times and has played in 21 of the last 38 league title games. The Red Devils are sending right-handed pitcher Jeff Ames, right-handed pitcher Tim Culligan, and second baseman Eric Lane.
The connection between the AppleSox and Lower Columbia is easy to find, AppleSox pitching coach Rob Hippi serves in the same capacity for the Red Devils.
Ames, from Vancouver, WA, is in his freshman season with the Red Devils. The flamethrower leads the NWAACC in strikeouts with 76 and is 5-1 with a 2.71 ERA.
“He can really tilt his fastball,” said Hippi. “He hit 96 mph in a recent game and topped 90 mph nineteen times that day.”
Ames is the younger brother of former AppleSox pitcher Steve Ames. The older Ames pitched for the AppleSox in 2008 and earned All-WCL First-Team honors as the team’s ace that season. He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last summer he went 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA for the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League in his first year of professional baseball.
Culligan is a sophomore out of Liberty High School in Hillsboro, OR. He is 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA for the Red Devils.
“He has a great strikeout-to-walk ratio and can bring it along with a plus change-up and a front end breaking ball,” said Hippi. “He is currently deciding between the University of Portland and Nevada on where to transfer next season.”
Lane is a Port Angeles, WA, native and is in his sophomore season with the Red Devils. He had an outstanding freshman campaign where he was earned the NWAACC’s Western Division Most Valuable Player Award. He hit .408 and was named to the league’s Gold Glove team for his defense at second base.
He currently leads the NWAACC in batting average this season, hitting .438.
“He is a guy who just loves to play the game,” said Hippi. “In my twenty-two years at Lower Columbia, he is as good of a second baseman that I’ve seen play here.”