Cougars: The 2018 Bearcats Alumnus Goes From Lower Columbia College to WSU
It was always a goal of his growing up to play Division I baseball; Dakota Hawkins just never thought he’d see the day where it actually came to fruition. Hawkins, a 2018 W.F. West graduate, has earned his way onto the Washington State University baseball team, as announced on Twitter Monday, April 6.
Hawkins, a 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed pitcher, has spent the last year and a half throwing for three-time defending champion Northwest Athletic Conference champion Lower Columbia College.
WSU reached out to Hawkins two weeks ago and said they were impressed with how he threw during fall ball and during his first and only two outings this spring before the season was canceled. He expects to officially sign with WSU later this week.
“One of my big goals was to play in the Pac-12, play D1 baseball,” Hawkins said. “It’s an honor for them to reach out to me and to offer me. It was a great feeling. To have a D1, especially in my state, Washington, was really nice.”
Hawkins was known more for his hitting rather than pitching at W.F. West. As a senior shortstop, he led the Bearcats with a .471 batting average while knocking in 29 RBIs, notching 33 hits and scoring 23 runs. It earned him first-team all-2A Evergreen Conference honors as an infielder, as well as spots on both The Chronicle’s and The Olympian’s All-Area teams.
But the 20-year-old has been pitching for most of the 16 years he’s played the game, and was a starting pitcher for the Bearcats all four years of high school, along with being a perennial all-league pick. He tallied a 1.87 ERA with 41 Ks in 30 innings as a junior and then was recruited by LCC after recording a 0.95 ERA with 31 strikeouts across 22 innings as a senior.
Hawkins has been LCC’s third pitcher in its rotation the past year and a half. The Red Devils play two doubleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays during the regular season and Hawkins would pitch game one on Sundays; the third game of each series.
He appeared in two games and seven total innings this spring before the season was canceled. He teamed up with relief pitcher Alex Brady to throw a 1-0 shutout win over the Community Colleges of Spokane on March 2. Hawkins went six innings allowing two hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts, while registering a high of 93.3 mph on the radar gun.
His freshman year at LCC, he appeared in 10 games, going 3-0 with 32 strikeouts, He ran a 4.98 ERA while allowing 23 hits, 12 earned runs and eight walks. He had a game-high of six Ks in four innings during his first outing of 2019.
He currently has four pitches: a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. His best strike pitch are his fastballs, which have been clocked as high as 94 mph, and his No. 1 strikeout pitch is the changeup. His curve sits at 70-72 mph and the changeup usually hits at 74-76 mph.
Hawkins said his electric arm is more the product of training rather than something he was born with, praising the Red Devils’ coaching staff for helping increase his speed, which never touched the 90s in high school. He said LCC assistant coach Ian Sanderson has been a huge help with his mechanics the past year, which has made him a more effective pitcher.
“A lot of it is just stuff we do in the weight room,” Hawkins said. “I have to give credit to the coaches pushing us in the weight room. It’s just hard work and determination.”
Hawkins was also a star football and basketball player for the Bearcats, earning four varsity letters in basketball and was a starting wide receiver and outside linebacker.
“But baseball was my first love,” said Hawkins, who’s been playing America’s pastime since he was four years old. “My goal was to always play college baseball, then go on from there.”
Now he joins fellow 2018 W.F. West graduate and former teammate Brandon White at Washington State, who’s been with the Cougars since 2018. He also knows Connor Barison, a pitcher from Redmond who Hawkins played summer ball with. His AA degree at Lower Columbia will be finished by the time he transfers to WSU and he plans to move to Pullman sometime in the next few months.