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Teams spend break in paradise

Wilson wasted little time getting the baseball season going, leaving on a 12-day spring trip to California, Nevada and Arizona on Tuesday evening.

By Thursday morning, players and coaches were in spring break heaven, despite losing their opening game Wednesday in California.

'We lost 8-1 in 80-degree weather É everything is great,' Trojan coach Mike Clopton says. 'No one is in jail and no team rules have been broken. Hopefully, it'll stay that way.'

Wilson is on the way to Phoenix, where players and coaches plan to attend three spring training games: San Francisco vs. Oakland, Colorado vs. San Diego and the Chicago Cubs vs. Oakland.

The Trojans expect to battle with Cleveland for the Portland Interscholastic League title, thanks to a returning cast of players that includes all-league first team pitcher Nick Hedgecock.

Cleveland has seven seniors in its starting lineup, including three first-team selections: pitcher Josh Keller, shortstop Jimmy Heiberg and third baseman Ben McAnnis-Entenman. Pitcher Whitman VanVelsor and outfielder Ry Kagan were second-team picks.

Cleveland also is set to travel to California for spring break, leaving Saturday. The solid weather from the past two weeks has helped prepare the team for playing on grass. Usually at this point of the year, the Warriors would be used to playing on a gym floor.

'Last year, we only used our field for games through the first two weeks of league play,' Cleveland coach Casey Dyer says. 'This is great.'

Softball

Benson is chasing its first PIL title, with eight returning players who were first- or second-team all-league last spring, including junior pitcher Helen Hanson. Catcher Jaslyn Butcher, second baseman Tasha Corradine, shortstop Amanda Boggan and centerfielder Lydia Mayfield were first-team picks.

'We're pretty strong with our middle defense,' Benson coach Katie Meyer says. 'We're pretty strong defensively all around the field. People are going to have trouble scoring runs on us, and it was that way last year, too.'

Designated hitter and pitcher Rachel Davis was a first-team pick as well.

Benson showcased its defense in its first two games, a 1-0 victory over Dallas on Monday and a 1-0 loss to St. Mary's in 10 innings Wednesday. Meyer says the team had a lot of runners on base in both games, but struggled to push them across home plate.

'I think we're just tight and tense,' Meyer says. 'I was thinking scoring would be one of our strengths this year, but that hasn't been the case so far.'

Of course, the Techsters might loosen up during their spring trip Ñ to Las Vegas. Nothing loosens up a team like a trip to Vegas.

Wilson returns an all-league first-team pitcher as well in senior Stephanie Hemmingson.

Tennis

Lincoln is heading into the season without one of its top players, junior Joel Kincaid, who is spending the year in Texas at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy. But the Cardinals, the defending district champion, are plenty stocked with players to make another run at the league title, says coach Stu Cutler.

The Cards return Charlie Cutler, the coach's son who is one of the league's top juniors, and have three other strong singles players in seniors Andy Crooks and Brad Batchelder and junior Matt Resnick.

And the future, too, looks bright for the Cardinals. Cutler says 15 freshmen came out for the team, five of whom were kept on the varsity squad. The other 10 were placed on a developmental team.

Charlie Cutler is part of a statewide class of juniors that figures to duke it out for the state title the next two seasons. Grant junior Tommy Hicks reached the state final last year. Ric Mortera of Jesuit and Steven Robertson of West Linn reached the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, in the state tourney last year. And Kincaid is likely to return to Lincoln next spring.

'It's going to be fun watching these guys play each other the next couple years,' Stu Cutler says. 'They're going to be some great matches.'

Lincoln is set to play in the Jesuit Invitational on April 23-24, an eight-team tournament, that some coaches think is a better way to play out the state tourney because the winner is determined by match play, and not the scores of individual matches.

Grant also is set to play in the Jesuit invite, along with metro area schools Parkrose, Sunset and West Linn.

Grant coach Chuck Martel says the Generals also have a strong returning cast that includes district doubles champions Willy Nolan and Nick Ruess.

Grant also has several strong freshmen who are likely to contend for spots in the state tournament.

'Playing in the Jesuit tournament is big for us because it's held at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center, where the state tournament is held,' Martel says. 'That's the kind of experience that's extremely helpful when you get to state.'

Notes

The state champion Oregon City girls had two head coaches again this season. The past three seasons, coach Brad Smith had shared the spotlight with co-coach Carl Tinsley. This season, it's Kurt Guelsdorf.

Guelsdorf was the head coach at Gresham for the past five seasons before moving to Oregon City in fall.

'It was a great opportunity and I took it,' Guelsdorf says. 'It's a tremendous environment for learning and I'm learning a lot from Brad.'

Guelsdorf says he moved to Oregon City under the impression that he would follow Smith as head coach.

'That's the plan,' he says. 'I'm not sure how long Brad wants to coach, but when he steps down, I'll be the next head coach.'

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..