The Boys Are Back In Town
By Ryley Petoff (Edward R. Murrow College of Communication)
Luck or fate may have brought four former teammates, all pitchers, back together at Washington State University in fall 2021.
"I got a Snapchat from Grillo saying, 'The boys are back in town baby.' with the song 'The Boys are Back in Town' playing in the background," redshirt junior Caden Kaelber said.
Chase Grillo, a redshirt sophomore, was the last of four Spokane Falls Community College pitchers recruited to play for WSU for the 2022 season. Kaelber signed in 2021 and was ecstatic to have three of his former teammates join him at WSU. Grillo, also known as "Gorilla," and Kaelber, otherwise known as "Tall guy," are the dynamic right-handed pitching duo who double as roommates.
They might be great on the baseball field, but they are not the best in the kitchen, which is why they rely on redshirt junior left-handed pitcher McKabe Cottrell to provide the best meals. Cottrell, also referred to as "Married man" shares a house with his wife, Krystall Cottrell, and one of their groomsmen, Cam Liss. They consider Liss, a junior left-handed pitcher, the "Content king" and the group's best dancer.
All four players were at Spokane Falls Community College for the 2019 season and the 2020 season that was canceled due to COVID-19. Their paths went in different directions, but they found their way back home in Pullman, Washington. The unity and brotherhood that head coach Brian Greene stands for made it an easy transition for the pitchers.
The group's unwavering support for and brutal honesty with one another began at SFCC and has continued at WSU.
"You know what to say and what's going to get them to improve, to pull out the best in them," Grillo said.
Although they compete for time on the mound, they constantly work to motivate each other and offer words of encouragement.
"If you have a team-first attitude, the statistics will come," McKabe said.
That support was on display in an early April win over the Utah Utes in Pullman. The Cougs had lost the first two games of the series and were struggling to make a comeback in the third. In turn, Cottrell, Grillo, Liss and Kaelber each pitched for a portion of the game and contributed to the electrifying 5-4 walkoff win. The SFCC players in the dugout could be seen from the stands, supporting their teammates and cheering them on.
The four pitchers share a similar mindset when it comes to baseball. Each said he believes that being confident and mentally prepared are the most important keys to success.
"Having faith in yourself and your ability is the biggest lesson I've learned," Liss said.
When they are not training, traveling and competing, the four teammates can be found hanging out at Grillo and Kaelber's house. They share fond memories of their DIY tailgate on a Cougar Football Saturday with Cottrell cooking at the grill, Liss thoughtfully choosing the playlist, and Grillo and Kaelber making their own cornhole game so they can compete in the off season.
Cottrell, Grillo, Kaelber and Liss provide an undeniable energy to the Cougar baseball team and are a force to be reckoned with on the field. Their support for one another is always on display and embodies the community mindset that WSU baseball stands for.
"All four pitchers possess great work ethics, have huge personalities, are good teammates and have been great additions to the Pullman community," said Bobby Alworth, WSU assistant director of athletic communications.
If you weren't able to make it to a baseball game this season, try to attend the pitcher's next family dinner.