Alastra is named new baseball coach at Auburn

Reporter staff

Abijah “Baj” Alastra has been named the new head baseball coach at Auburn High School.

Alastra, who also teaches English at the school, is the program’s third coach in the last 12 months. After long-time coach Tim Kuykendall stepped down last June to take the head coaching job at Curtis High in the Tacoma suburb of University Place, the Trojans tabbed Brian Embery as the new coach. But he resigned at midseason in April over a team discipline issue. Junior varsity coach Gordon Elliott, who also is Auburn’s head football coach, moved up into the varsity job on an interim basis and guided the Trojans all the way to the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Elliott will return to the JV coaching position.

This is Alastra’s first head coaching job. He was an Auburn assistant under Kuykendall in 2006 and 2007 when the team made back-to-back runs to the state championship game. This past spring, he served as an assistant at Auburn Riverside.

Alastra takes over a team that, in spite of the challenges of the midseason coaching change, won the South Puget Sound League 3A title with a 10-4 record, won the West Central-Southwest District tournament, and finished 17-6 overall. The Trojans graduated eight seniors, including All-SPSL first-teamers Colton Brown (pitcher), Travis Shreve (shortstop), Garrett Rutledge (outfield) and David Olson (pitcher/designated hitter).

“One of the aspects of coaching I think I’m really good at is developing talent,” Alastra said. “I relish the opportunity and the challenge to help young players mature into really good players.”

Alastra was primarily an infielder as a player, especially at shortstop. He played one season at Washington State University as a third baseman. He said he especially enjoys the hitting aspect of the game.

“I’m a cage rat – I love to spend a lot of time in the batting cage, working on the mental approach to hitting,” Alastra said. “I’m good at managing the game, calling pitches for the catcher. That’s one of the aspects of the game I really enjoy.”

Alastra was a candidate for the position last year.

“Now we have another chance to hire him, and we know he is a guy who can lead our program,” Auburn athletic director Bob Jones said in an e-mail. “It is great for us to be able to hire a coach who also is a teacher in our building. There is a high expectation for competitive baseball in Auburn, and I believe Baj can help our program continue the winning tradition.”