The Port Angeles Lefties announced the hiring of Skagit Valley College assistant coach Darren Westergard as their new head coach.
Westergard has been at Skagit Valley for 12 seasons.
“I’ve known Darren for over 20 years. I’m excited to have him on board,” said Lefties owner Matt Acker. “He knows baseball, talent and is connected in the baseball community. Darren is an experienced coach and a good person. He’s confident in himself and that can be infectious with players. Having been all over the country as a summer ball coach, he has created a vast network. Darren comes to win games. He’s going to do a great job.”
Westergard is a Washington native. He graduated from Centralia High School in 1992, went to Western Oregon University and went on to play professionally in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Westergard’s first head coaching job was with the Bellingham Bells before they played in the West Coast League. He has also been a head coach for the Anchorage Pilots in the Alaska League.
“I’m excited to be coaching in Port Angeles,” Westergard said. “[It’s] no stranger to hard work, It’s a scrappy, blue-collar town and the Lefties are an exceptional organization.”
Westergard plans to take the Lefties to the West Coast League championship next year. “It takes time to put together a good roster, and we’re getting to work. We are going to get our guys from the bigger schools. We’re attacking that right now. I like the roster to be primarily from the SEC, ACC and Pac-12.
“I’m looking forward to using my network to bring in top-tier talent from all over the country. I’ve had success in other leagues, I feel I have a good pulse on the WCL. [Acker] wants to win, I know Port Angeles wants to win. I’m coming to win games,” he said.
Westergard replaces Zach Miller, who coached the Lefties to a 19-34 record in 2017 in their inaugural season. Acker thanked Miller for a memorable first season.
“We all had a wonderful experience with coach Miller this year. Unfortunately, he has some personal responsibilities that will keep him from returning next season. The Lefties enjoyed having him as a coach and though we understand, he will be missed. We wish him all the best,” Acker said.
“It was an honor and a privilege to work with this team and the incredible group of players we brought to the Peninsula,” Miller said. “The opportunity to be one of the first Lefties and positively affect these young men and this community was one I couldn’t pass up. Thanks to Lefties baseball and Port Angeles. This is a strong organization with a great future and leaving is definitely bittersweet.”
ABOUT THE WEST COAST LEAGUE
The West Coast League (WCL) is the premier summer collegiate baseball league west of the Mississippi. The 13-year-old, 11-team, professionally operated wood-bat league located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest showcases pro prospects from major conferences across the nation June through August. Out west, the league features an unparalleled history of memorable fan and player experiences and the best summer weather in North America. 83 players with WCL experience were selected in the MLB 2017 June draft. 270 WCL alums appeared or were active in affiliated professional baseball in 2017 including 31 in the major leagues, such as 2015 home-run leader Chris Davis (Baltimore); record-breaking slugger Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia); rising star pitchers James Paxton (Seattle) and Matt Boyd (Detroit); and outfielder Mitch Haniger (Seattle). Overall member attendance was 412,392 this past summer, an increase of 8.6% in total attendance.