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• With preseason play behind them, Portland teams begin race for playoffs Lincoln's softball coach aims to erase last season's stats and take team to a new level

Lincoln High's new softball coach Jim Taylor is something of an optimist when he says the Cardinals will be a playoff team this year.

But the playoffs are coming to Lincoln, that's a fact.

'I think we'll be good enough to be in the playoff race this season,' says Taylor, who works for the city's water bureau during the day. 'And we're only going to go up from there.'

Taylor has been coaching Little League and American Softball Association teams in Scappoose for the past eight years and decided to step up to high school ball when the Lincoln job opened.

Lincoln, which went 1-15 in Portland Interscholastic League play last season, won its two preseason games by scoring an average of 15.5 runs.

Taylor coached a 14-and-under team, which included his daughter, through an 89-game season last spring and summer. That team finished second at the state ASA tournament and placed fifth in a regional tourney. Taylor is hoping to bring the same kind of success to a school that hasn't fared well in the PIL for years.

One player from that team, freshman second baseman Christina Archambault, is on the Lincoln varsity. The Cardinals also feature freshman pitchers Katie Smith and Morgan Heckman. The team's shortstop, Anna Gantman, is a sophomore.

Taylor says his team's defense and aggressiveness at the plate have been the keys to playing well so far, and he can see plenty of strong incoming players in the next several years. But he's also mindful of the four seniors on the squad, Melissa Wasteney, Krystle Stoltenburg, Gahlya Auel and Julia Osborn.

'This season is a big one for the seniors,' Taylor says. 'I want it to be their best season because they've been through a lot of losing. That makes it tough to show up when you pretty much know the outcome of a game before it starts. They deserve to be treated well.'

'Softball has been fun the last three years, but it makes a difference when you're winning,' Stoltenburg says. 'You really look forward to your next game.'

BASEBALL: Madison High opened the season with four straight losses, but second-year coach Art Chase is hopeful the Senators will duplicate their performance from last year and reach the state playoffs.

Madison had just 21 players in the program in 2002 but is up to 34 this season, led by two returners to the varsity team, junior Aaron Newell and sophomore Tony Stutevoss.

The Senators, who have won the PIL title six times in the last 11 years, also feature seniors Matt Jackson and Miles Quenton as pitchers and infielders, and junior Jeff Seaton, who pitches and plays in the outfield.

Chase says that although his team didn't win a preseason game, he's been happy with the progress of the players, most of whom began playing together during the American Legion season.

'We've had good pitching, which has kept us in games,' he says. 'If we get a little more aggressive at the plate, we have the ability to get back to the playoffs.'

TRACK AND FIELD: Wilson finished at the bottom of the standings at the Sandy Invitational on Saturday, but the Trojans scored a pair of event victories: Eric Gunderson in the boys high jump (6-4) and the girls 4x100 relay team (52.77).

Grant's distance runners don't have the same confidence about the track and field team as they did in fall with cross country, when they finished within a whisker of winning the state title.

'For us to win state, we'd have to do really well in the distance races, and the team score would have to be in the 30s,' senior Joaquin Chapa says. 'And if that happened, Sandy probably could win just with Tommy Skipper, even if he is injured.'

Notes: Lincoln goalie Ruth Gilliam is among the recruits named by the University of Portland women's soccer program. The Pilots also recruited a top goalie from California, so Gilliam will be dueling for playing time. É Washington's players pointed out that some bragging helped motivate them to win the boys game for only the second time at the Northwest Shootout basketball game Saturday at the Chiles Center. 'At the team breakfast, Oregon was kind of ripping us,' Adam Morrison of Spokane's Mead High was quoted as saying in The Seattle Times. Morrison, headed for Gonzaga, scored 36 points.

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