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A younger Young steps up to plate

OSU's first baseman has picked up a few things from family
by: COURTESY OF OSU, DeAnn Young came to the Beavers with a background steeped in baseball — her brothers Dmitri and Delmon are in the major leagues. She stepped in as a starter immediately, and as a junior plays first base with a young team she calls a work in progress.

CORVALLIS - DeAnn Young seems the typical 20-year-old college athlete, a junior first baseman at Oregon State majoring in psychology with hopes of working with troubled youths some day.

When asked to describe the Camarillo, Calif., native, OSU softball coach Kirk Walker offers: 'She stays pretty even tempo. She doesn't get caught up in a lot of emotional swings. She is reliable and consistent.'

Interesting, then, that Young is part of a very athletic and rather emotional family that includes major leaguers Dmitri and Delmon Young.

'Any family has issues,' Walker says. 'It's just that DeAnn's family issues are in the newspaper. Many people have the same personality types in their own family. It's just not out in the public.'

Dmitri, 34, was an All-Star first baseman and the National League comeback player of the year last season with the Washington Senators, hitting .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs. From 1998 to 2001, he had four straight seasons batting .300 or better for Cincinnati.

Delmon, 22, was runner-up for American League rookie of the year last season as an outfielder with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, hitting .288 with 13 homers and 93 RBIs.

Each brother has been plagued by controversy throughout his career.

Dmitri says he has battled an alcohol problem for years. In 2006, he went through a divorce and was treated for alcohol and substance abuse and depression. He pleaded guilty to assaulting a young woman after an argument in Birmingham, Mich., and pleaded no contest to domestic violence charges filed by a former girlfriend.

A diabetic, the 6-2 Dmitri arrived at spring training camp last month weighing 298 pounds. Even after his sensational 2007 season, he faces a battle for a starting job.

Loose cannon likes to fire

After Delmon, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 major league draft, was named Baseball America's minor league player of the year in 2005, he blasted the organization in a media conference call for not promoting him to the majors fast enough. He called the team 'cheap' and said, 'as soon as I become a free agent, I'll bounce out of there.'

That season, Delmon had received a three-game suspension for bumping an umpire in Double-A ball. In 2006, he flung a bat at a Triple-A umpire and hit him in the right arm, drawing a 50-game suspension.

After his terrific rookie season, the 6-3, 200-pound star was traded to Minnesota in a six-player deal, indicating that despite the talent, Tampa considered him expendable.

DeAnn Young has little to say about her brothers' comportment.

'I stay completely out of that,' she says.

As for Delmon's trade, 'I'm sure it's going to be even better for him on a new team,' she says.

The intrigue of the Young family story extends to their father, Larry, a sharecropper's son from Mississippi who worked his way through school and became one of the Navy's first black F-14 fighter pilots. He now flies for Delta Airlines.

Dmitri - 14 years DeAnn's senior - and Larry were mentors for her as she learned the game of softball.

'Dmitri was the one I worked with most,' DeAnn says. 'I used to go to the park with him a lot. My dad was a big influence, too. He was able to help me quite a bit.'

A Firecracker's lured north

Walker discovered her on a summer team, the Southern California Firecrackers, the same team with which ex-OSU teammate Mia Longfellow played. Oregon State beat out Florida State and Illinois for her services.

'It was closer to home, the Pac-10 is the best conference in the country and we play in California all the time,' Young says. 'It was a good decision. I love the girls on the team, and the coaches are awesome. I just really like it here.'

Young stepped in immediately as a starter her freshman year, hitting .291 with seven home runs on the OSU team that reached the College World Series. She hit .270 with eight homers as a sophomore.

On a young team that starts only one senior, three freshmen and four sophomores, Young has struggled at the plate thus far, hitting .240 with no homers in 26 games. The Beavers, who have reached the NCAA Tournament nine straight years, are unranked and 13-13 going into Wednesday's 2 p.m. Cascade Clash doubleheader at home against Mississippi Valley State.