Coach is new, but high aim isn't

PREP WATCH: Cardinal softball banks on strong roster of underclassmen
by: L.E. BASKOW, In Wilson’s 9-2 win over Cleveland on Thursday, Trojan Augie Rittenberg makes a tag and gets off a throw over Warrior David Lynch.

Lincoln has a new softball coach, but the Cardinals aren't likely to do a lot of unfamiliar things. Odds are, they'll just keep winning.

Coach Brynn Ludwig, who was playing for Concordia University at this time a year ago, has strong young players to go with some key returnees.

Megan Wasteney, the 2006 PIL pitcher of the year, is now a senior. Infielder Kylee Muir also is back, after making the all-league team last season as a freshman.

The youth movement includes frosh Endya Bailey at shortstop and Jenny Archambault behind the plate.

'Endya is extremely quick and a big offensive threat,' Ludwig says. 'Jenny is a very good hitter and great defensive player.'

All but three players on the varsity are freshmen or sophomores.

Lincoln won the PIL last year with a 15-1 league record. The Cardinals have been in the state playoffs three years in a row.

Ludwig, 24, from Gig Harbor, Wash., played outfield at Concordia - when she wasn't battling injuries. She missed one year with a torn rotator cuff. When she returned for her junior season, the left-handed batter broke her arm in the preseason when she was hit by a pitch.

'It hit me on the outside of the wrist, in the joint. It was the worst kind of break possible,' she says.

She came back to play as a senior and plans to be on a slow pitch team this summer.

'But I want to teach and coach,' she says, 'and I got to see things from the sideline perspective a lot during the two years I was injured.'

Lincoln opened last week with a 12-2 win at West Linn and lost 2-1 at Beaverton. The Cards will play Central Catholic at 6:15 today and Grant at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, both at Delta Park.

'I'm really excited to have this bunch for the next few years,' Ludwig says. 'They're awesome. They're everything you can't coach - excited, aggressive, hardworking -they came with all the right tools. Now it's my job to take them to a higher level.'

• PIL softball league play begins today. Grant has a strong pitcher in Bailey Reuck and should give Lincoln a run. Benson has only four seniors, and one of them, pitcher Megan Flink, hopes to return soon from mononucleosis.

• Round One in PIL 6A baseball is set for Wednesday, with Grant at Franklin and Lincoln at Benson.

Defending state champ Wilson is 2-1 in nonleague games. The Trojans opened with a 3-2 win over Central Catholic, behind Oregon State-bound pitcher Joey Mahalic, who gave up no hits and no runs and struck out eight while walking one in five innings -in front of 24 pro scouts. Wilson then beat Cleveland 9-2 before falling to Clackamas 8-1, ending a streak of 27 straight wins over two seasons.

The Trojans managed only two hits against the Cavs -a homer by Mahalic and a single by sophomore shortstop Bailey Graham, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs against Central.

Graham's twin brother, Brent, is the team's new catcher. The Grahams reached the finals of the PIL 6A district wrestling meet at 140 pounds, with Brent winning the title by injury default.

No. 2 starter Sam Peterson struck out eight Cleveland batters in five innings, giving up two earned runs and five hits. Johnny Verschueren led the way offensively with a homer, double, single and five RBIs.

The Trojans will play in Arizona next week, and Mahalic is expected to start against defending state champion Brophy High of Phoenix.

• What an effort by multisport standout Jordan Polk of Lincoln. The junior wide receiver/point guard/sprinter went to Keller, Texas, last week for a Nike football combine -and was the star of the show, beating the best Texas had to offer.

Polk had the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.46 seconds on Accutrack, 4.29 by hand). Complete results aren't yet available, but Polk also had perhaps the best vertical leap (39 1/2 inches).

He did all this, too, in shoes he had to buy at the last minute at a sporting goods store. The airlines lost his luggage, and Polk was barely able to find one pair of offseason football cleats in his size, 10 1/2, in time for the combine near Dallas.

Polk caught 45 passes for 1,435 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona State and Illinois have sent him letters showing some interest in him as a football player, and Ivy League schools including Princeton, Yale and Harvard also have made contact.

He seems most interested in a chance to play in the Pac-10, and he plans to get to several other football camps before next season. He was measured at 5-feet-7 1/2 and 156 pounds.

'Teams wonder about the size thing, but I don't see how you cannot take a guy like that,' Lincoln coach Chad Carlson says.

• Another huge honor for Lake Oswego's Kevin Love: The UCLA-bound senior will be named the McDonald's Player of the Year.

• Cleveland High's Community Field Project got a boost last week, with Portland Public Schools committing $200,000 to a new track and new artificial turf playing field. Fundraising has netted about $1.3 million, and a big push is on to reach the $2 million projected cost. Work on the track will start in May, and the turf field should be ready in time for football season.

• Roosevelt's run to second place in Class 5A boys basketball thrilled and brought back plenty of memories for members of the school's 1954 PIL champions.

'Roosevelt was still an athletic power in the late '40s and early 50s,' recalls Bill Wiitala, class of '54.

The Riders won outright city basketball crowns in '51 and '54.

'In '53, we inaugurated the new gym. It was the biggest gym in Portland,' Wiitala says. 'Everybody in St. Johns came to the games.'

Among the former Riders who watched this year's team play in the Eugene state tourney: Bob Flood, Dave Wanaka, Charles Geldaker, Herm Winterholler and Dennis Rodine. The coach, Marv Rasmussen, also starred in basketball and baseball for Roosevelt and still lives in Portland. The Roughriders won state in 1949, finished third in '50, lost two close games in '53 and took fourth in '54.

• The first PIL track meets are Wednesday, with Benson at Lincoln, Grant at Wilson, Cleveland at Franklin (nonleague), Roosevelt at Marshall and Jefferson at Madison.

• Coach Dave Frank's Central Catholic boys track team is known primarily for its great distance crew. Look out for a field event competitor this year, though. Senior Cam Norris placed eighth at state in the discus last year and is off to a good start. 'He's put in a great fall and winter and certainly will be a factor on the state level in May,' Frank says.

The Rams' first Mount Hood Conference meet is April 4 at David Douglas, against the Scots and Gresham.

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