Auburn tabs Alastra as baseball coach

Abijah Alastra loves to take a few swings with the bat whenever he can.

Abijah Alastra loves to take a few swings with the bat whenever he can.

Next spring, Alastra will take a swing at his first head coaching job when he steps to the helm of the Auburn High baseball program.

Alastra was named to the program’s coaching position on Tuesday by Auburn athletic director Bob Jones. He is the Trojans’ third baseball 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 to the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Elliott will return to the JV position.

Alastra, who goes by “Baj,” teaches English at Auburn. This spring, he was an assistant at Auburn Riverside.

After Kuykendall resigned last year, Alastra was a candidate to take his place, a job that ultimately went to Embery.

“Now we have another chance to hire him, and we know he is a guy who can lead our program,” Auburn AD 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.”

In spite of the challenges of the midseason coaching change, Auburn won the South Puget Sound League 3A title, won the 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 likes the hitting part 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.”