The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Meet the 2024 baseball team – coaching staff

Take a peek inside Nathan Choate’s staff for year one
Cougar+baseball+coaches+Jake+Valentine+%28Left%29%2C+Joe+Perez+%28center%29+and+Eric+Hutting+%28right%29+talk+at+head+coach+Nathan+Choates+press+conference%2C+June+27+in+the+Alger+Family+Club+Room+in+Martin+Stadium-+courtesy+WSU+Athletics
Cougar baseball coaches Jake Valentine (Left), Joe Perez (center) and Eric Hutting (right) talk at head coach Nathan Choate’s press conference, June 27 in the Alger Family Club Room in Martin Stadium- courtesy WSU Athletics

For the 18th time in program history, the WSU baseball team has a new head coach. For 2024, Nathan Choate is taking over the reins. With years of experience as a pitching coach, the WSU gig is just his second head coaching position in his long career. 

To continue getting to know the 2024 baseball team ahead of opening day, the final pillar is the coaching staff. 

Nathan Choate – Head Coach 

Despite the new challenge of transitioning from an assistant coach to the head coach, Choate prefers being the man to set the culture. 

“I can tell you my favorite thing about being a head coach is getting to set the culture. That’s the biggest thing. Trying to hold young guys accountable and develop an element of toughness,” Choate said. 

However, Choate said he is still working on getting the players comfortable with him right now. He said he understands it can be harder to open up to the head coach rather than an assistant, but when he is working with the pitchers especially, he is acting in what equates to an assistant role. 

“I’m trying to get them not to look at me as the head coach but really to look at me as the pitching coach at this point,” he said. 

After being named head coach in June 2023, Choate immediately got to work with the team, already getting a feel for the team and the guys standing out. His first impression on the pitchers, especially, was that they were hungry to get the season underway. 

“There’s a bunch of pitchers here that are hungry to have success,” Choate said. 

As a head coach, Choate boasts an 85-103-1 record and one West Coast Conference regular-season Conference Championship. In 2023, LMU had a team ERA of 5.31 overall and 4.20 ERA in WCC play, showing that Choate had his team playing their best games late in the season. 

Joe Perez – Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator 

Hired in June soon after Choate took over the head coaching position, Perez will coach up the infield and assist with hitters at the plate. It is not the first time that Perez and Choate worked together, as they both served as assistants on the Grand Canyon baseball staff in the mid-2010’s. 

WSU is the first Division I job for Perez, but his recent job at Central Arizona College proved he can bring out the best in his infielders. Over eight seasons with the Vaqueros, six of his infielders earned ACCAC Gold Gloves.

In the eight seasons with the team, Central Arizona won two National Championships in 2019 and 2022 and had a team record of 358-113, a winning percentage of 76.0%. During his near-decade in Arizona, he earned the 2021 ABCA National Assistant Coach of the Year, a season where the team went 51-9 and made a World Series appearance. 

Quinn Hawksworth – Assistant Coach 

Hawksworth will work with the hitters and help with recruiting for the Cougs after three years at CSU Bakersfield. During those three years, he served solely as an assistant for the first two seasons before transitioning to recruiting coordinator for the most recent season. 

With Hawksworth on staff, CSU went 56-91, all three of their first seasons in the Big West Conference. 

“Quinn is an extremely hard-working and energetic positive coach who has been around very good baseball people,” Choate said. “He has very strong ties to baseball in the Northwest and specifically the state of Washington. Quinn has a passion for working with young people and developing hitters. We are excited to welcome Quinn and his family to Pullman.”

Originally from Sammamish, Washington, Hawksworth is returning to his home state to coach the Cougs, completing a goal of his. 

Growing up in the Northwest, I always wanted to be a Coug and wear crimson and gray. My family and I are excited to join the Pullman community and be a part of this historic program. I can’t wait to get to work,” Hawksworth said. 

Eric Hutting – Assistant Coach 

The versatility assistant, Hutting, will primarily work with catchers while assisting with both pitchers and batters for the Cougs in 2024. Hutting worked with Choate on the staff at LMU for the past two seasons. 

Hutting played college ball at Long Beach State from 2014–16, serving as the team’s catcher and playing in 122 games and making 105 starts. He ended his career with 70 hits and 36 RBI, being a consistent presence behind the dish. 

Brandon Vial – Director of Player Development 

Vial graduated from Austin Peay in 2019 after two seasons with the team and two seasons at Feather River College. Since then, he has quickly risen up the coaching ranks, coming to WSU after two seasons at Lewis-Clark State College, where he served as an assistant working with pitchers and catchers.

During his playing career, Vial held a 2.24 ERA with Feather River College before putting up a 5.09 ERA over 109.2 innings at Austin Peay — a pitcher with a walk rate of 8.1%, Vial was a soft-contact pitcher who found success in sprints. 

Austin Ames – Director of Baseball Operations 

The final assistant, Ames interned with Team USA during the summer before joining the WSU staff for 2024.

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.