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Bellingham Bells hope to make an impression this season with new head coach

Coming from St. Mary's College, Bob Ralston is excited to work for Bellingham's 'first class operation'

Bells infielders attempt a double play against the Port Angeles Lefties on July 28, 2023, in Bellingham, Wash. This was the first in a three-game series against the Lefties at home. // Photo courtesy of Bellingham Bells Baseball Club

This offseason, the Bellingham Bells have taken on a new head coach and pitching coaches in preparation for the upcoming season.

Opening day for the Bells is Friday, May 31, when they play the Edmonton Riverhawks at home. With the all-star game being hosted in Bellingham this season, this is a big year for the Bells.

The Bells ended last season third of the eight teams in their division, with a West Coast League regular season record of 35-18. In the offseason, they lost Andrew Valdez, who led the team in major hitting categories like batting average, home runs and RBIs. In addition, head coach Jim Clem stepped down from the team after 12 seasons in Bellingham.

“[Clem] coached last year and it was magnificent,” said Stephanie Morrell, general manager of the Bells. “But he was ready to move on.”

According to Morrell, the Bells have had a lot of their coaches move on to bigger D-I programs, but the goal is always for the relationships to last as long as possible. “Longevity is a good thing for everybody,” Morrell said.

Bob Ralston, former assistant baseball coach at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, is taking on the Bells roster this season. This is his first year as coach of a collegiate summer league, but he has previously coached at almost every level of baseball: from little league to a professional minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.


The Bellingham Bells high five after a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Riverhawks on June 3, 2023, in Bellingham, Wash. The Bells held the Hawks to only four hits and one earned run throughout the game. // Photo courtesy of Bellingham Bells Baseball Club

“Coaching is coaching, no matter the level,” Ralston said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of meeting and working with college-age players.”

Ralston said he’s excited to move up to Bellingham and has heard amazing things about the community, specifically about the Bells’ organization, complimenting both the owner, Glenn Kirkpatrick, and Morrell.

“It’s a first class operation,” Ralston said.

This season, the Bells picked up some college freshmen with bright futures. Ralston said they have a shortstop, Charlie Bates, a top prospect in the 2024 MLB Draft out of Stanford, and pitcher, CJ Bott, set to attend UCLA. 

For Ralston and his team, the fun part is developing new players and helping them reach their potential. The challenges for him and his team are playing regularly and staying motivated to play at a high level daily.

Returning to the Bells is senior pitcher Ryan Beitel, who says he’s excited about the new coaching staff. 

“It's always exciting to have new coaches with new experiences,” Beitel said.

Beitel has high hopes for the season, saying the past three seasons have always been fun. He said the community surrounding the Bells is the biggest part of the team, and that the fans are awesome; players notice the energy and the turnouts every game. 

“I think it will be the best year yet,” Beitel said.

Ozzy Konez

Ozzy Konez is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front. He is a third-year Visual Journalism major and a member of the Western Tennis Club. Outside of school, you can find him working at the local tennis club, cooking, hiking or at the student rec center. The best place to contact him is at

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