New manager takes helm for Battle Ground baseball


The Battle Ground Tigers varsity baseball team will have a new manager this season. Seth Johnson joins the Tigers with years of experience at the junior college level and working for a league rival.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Johnson, who comes to the Tigers with nearly a decade of head coaching experience at 4A Greater St. Helens League (GSHL) rival Skyview High School.

He originally came to Battle Ground for a teaching position, but when longtime Battle Ground head coach Billy Hayes stepped down, Johnson said he considered taking the head coach position based on the hard-working mindset previous coaches have instilled into the Battle Ground program.

“I wasn’t expecting to take the position. But the great thing about the previous coaches is the work ethic is there,” Johnson said. “... So the kids have been working hard. I appreciate their hard work. There’s still some little kinks, obviously, early in the year that we are trying to figure out.”

Johnson gained his initial coaching experience with five years as an assistant coach for Lower Columbia College. Then he was at the helm of Hudson’s Bay High School for a year, followed by nine years as head coach for the Skyview Storm.

With a fresh start at Battle Ground High School, Johnson has a lot he is looking forward to accomplishing.

“The first thing is, you know, everyone does it differently, right? And so this first year is going to be like that year of kind of like setting those expectations of what I expect of them — the basic fundamentals, my terminology, things like that — to kind of lay that groundwork and then for the future years it can kind of run smoothly, you know,” Johnson said as to what he is looking forward to in year one.

This year’s team will feature only five seniors, Johnson said. When it comes to the mighty league of four in the 4A GSHL, Johnson believes it is anyone’s league, despite the Tigers youth.

“I think Skyview is definitely the most-talented team this year. They are bringing back the most guys,” Johnson said. “But I think all four teams have a shot at, like, from first to fourth, it could be any order. That’s why you have to love baseball.”

Even with Johnson’s years of experience, his first year with the Tigers brings one of the best talents he has had the opportunity to coach, he said.

“We have one of the most talented players in the state of Washington in Jackson Hotchkiss,” Johnson said of the star center fielder for the Tigers.

“He’s committed to the University of Washington, and he’s the second-ranked player in the state. He’s very dynamic, offensively and defensively, a great athlete, and he’s a professional prospect. He can do some damage with his bat, but he’s also very fast, so he can steal bases.”

The Tigers are slated to kick off their 2024 campaign with a non-league matchup against Ridgefield High School at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 8, at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC). On Saturday, March 9, the Tigers will be participating in a 16-team jamboree with three games of three innings each at the RORC.