Generals loaded with experience
Prep Watch • Grant softball returns
It's hard to pick against defending PIL 6A softball champion Grant. The Generals return nine seniors and one junior - and every starter except their catcher.
Top pitcher Bailey Rueck (headed for Western Oregon next year) will be backed by Britta Heming. Whoever isn't pitching will play first base.
Also returning are second baseman Alexys Ganado, shortstop Jessie Minch (who will play for Chico State next year), third baseman Kayla Anderson, center fielder Rachel Frank, left fielder Maggie Forness (the only junior expected to start) and right fielder Shannon Tucker, among others.
Jocelyn Iverson, all-league as a designated hitter/utility player last year, is trying to fill the catching void, along with sophomore Erika Clark.
Others in the mix are senior infielder Kaitlyn Whitten, sophomore outfielder Jenny Lefton and senior utility player Michelle Vasbinder.
The biggest question mark could be Grant's Rose Festival princess selection; the decision will come Tuesday, and Rueck is a candidate. If she is chosen, she probably won't be able to play softball this season.
The only downer for Grant at this point, though, is that the turnout for softball is lower than usual.
'I've been here for 22 years and have had three teams most of the time,' coach Debbie Engelstad says, 'but we're scrambling to find enough kids for a JV 2 team this year, so we probably will have only a varsity and JV.'
Preseason games begin Monday, and Portland Christian isn't wasting any time celebrating and using its new field. The Royals will play host to Santiam at 4 p.m., with ceremonies commemorating the fundraising blitz that made the diamond a reality to start at 3:30 p.m.
Last March, thieves stole about $1,000 worth of pop cans the team had generated in a fundraiser. The community learned of the team's plight and pitched in in a hurry, contributing $11,000 worth of cans.
'It was incredible,' coach Ryan Miller says, 'and we want to communicate to the community how much it meant to us and how important it is to the kids.'
Portland Christian went on to win the Class 2A state championship.
Miller says he has a good senior class again this season.
'On paper, I look at our lineup and think we're going to be pretty good,' he says, 'but we're going to have to stay injury-free, because we only have about 12 guys out.'
nWilson also has big plans for its home opener. The Trojans will unveil their new scoreboard at Wednesday's 4 p.m. home game against St. Helens.
The nine-inning scoreboard cost about $15,000. Wilson baseball got a naming-rights contribution from Alpenrose Dairy and raised the rest with its usual array of efforts, including pancake breakfasts, a golf tournament, outfield-sign sponsors, and discount cards for auto services and pizza.
'Our old scoreboard was about 15 years old,' Wilson coach Mike Clopton says, 'and the guy taking care of it said the last Band-Aid job he did was probably the last one he could do to keep it working.'
The North team will have four highly productive quarterbacks at its disposal for the 61st annual Les Schwab Bowl game June 21 at PGE Park. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Grant's Andre Broadous, Central Catholic's Nick Green, Clackamas' Ryan Cook and Lakeridge's Robbie Kool were among 37 players selected for the squad.
Grant and Glencoe each have three players on the North, with receiver Bryan Butcher and linebacker Alex Melson also representing the Generals.
Lincoln receiver Jordan Polk is the other PIL 6A player picked.
From PIL 5A are Jefferson back Kalonji Paschal and lineman Robert Price, Roosevelt back Cameron Jackson and Cleveland back RJ McKeever.
Green is joined by Central Catholic teammate Demetrius Guice, a tight end/receiver.
David Douglas will have running back Mike Waters and linebacker Chad Almond in the game.
The South team has three players each from Class 6A state champion Sheldon, 5A state champ West Albany and 6A semifinalist West Salem.
The game, which features top high school seniors, went to the North 42-14 last year. The North has won three in a row to take a 28-27-4 lead in the series.