Franklin senior Jeff Pry returns for a third season as one of the top pitchers in the Portland Interscholastic League, and his goal is simple: a three-peat.
'We're going to be a different team because we lost so many key players, but I think we can still win the league title,' Pry says. 'We have a lot of role players this season, and it's just going to be a matter of getting contributions at the right time.'
Pry, 6-4 and 210 pounds, finally moves up to the No. 1 spot in the starting rotation after prepping behind Kansas City Royals draftee Mike Aguilar the last two years.
Pry would seem ready for the role. He went 5-1 last year as the Quakers won the title and reached the second round of the state playoffs. He helped the school's American Legion team reach the state tournament and then attended the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., an all-star event supported by Major League Baseball.
'It was 350 scouts and no fans,' Pry says. 'Every time I threw a pitch, about 150 radar guns went up.'
Pry says he got to throw three innings and didn't give up a run. His top pitches hit 91 mph.
But that was before football season. Pry says playing quarterback, running back and receiver helped him get ready for the coming baseball season.
'It helped a lot because of all the focus,' he says. 'During my junior year, I just kind of chilled during football season, but this year I wanted to go out well, and that changed a lot of things. Our coaches preach about mental toughness, and that helped me a lot.'
Franklin's new baseball coach, Adam Shaw, is expecting a lot from Pry, who will play shortstop or center field when he doesn't pitch and will be the team's key batter.
The Quakers have just five seniors, Shaw says, eight fewer than last season. Rain has wiped out most of the team's preseason games.
'Jeff is the lone returning varsity player, so he's valuable in that respect, but he's also a tremendous leader,' Shaw says. 'He listens well, is very coachable É we're going to need a lot out of him if we're going to three-peat.'
Shaw says he can see Pry performing at that level.
'I don't think I've seen a high school player swing the bat as hard as he does,' says Shaw, who played two seasons at Mt. Hood Community College. 'He's a terrific athlete. As a pitcher, he's pretty dominant. He has four pitches, and he throws a lot of strikes. We'll be using his 12 innings every week, that's for sure.'
Pry has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Hawaii, but he's waiting for the MLB draft in June. He's hoping to land in the top 12 rounds, although watching Aguilar's draft experience last year Ñ when the PIL's player of the year slipped from an expected fourth-round selection to the 24th round, has taught him nothing is a sure thing.
'You never know how things will play out with the draft,' Pry says. 'All you can do is work as hard as you can and hope things go your way.'