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It helps to have perfect pitch

Prep Watch
by: , BOTTENFIELD

Kent Bottenfield pitched to baseball's biggest hitters and in front of thousands of fans. That was easy, compared with singing to a couple of hundred people.

'It took me a year to get over the fear,' he says.

Bottenfield, a former Madison High star who spent 10 seasons in the major leagues, is now an up-and-coming contemporary Christian recording artist. His second CD, 'Back in the Game,' is due Aug. 7. He'll perform at 7 tonight at Portland Christian High in a benefit for the school's baseball program.

'It's a whole new career for me,' says Bottenfield, 38, who pitched from 1992 to 2001 for Montreal, Colorado, San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Anaheim, Philadelphia and Houston.

Bottenfield writes songs, plays piano and sings. He tours more than 100 days a year.

Only now, with 'Back in the Game,' is he making much of a deal about being a former big-leaguer. 'Most people have heard Carl Lewis trying to sing the national anthem and don't take former athletes that seriously,' he says. 'This new song opens with baseball and talks about how it's a new season in my life now but my goal is still the same - to bring glory to God.'

Bottenfield remembers taking piano lessons when he was 10 years old. But he would think, 'My friends are outside playing baseball or football,' and so he quit the lessons after a year. He went on to teach himself how to play, and to play by ear.

In 1999, he was 18-4 on the mound with the St. Louis Cardinals and made the All-Star Game. For his career, he was 46-49 with a 4.50 ERA and 566 strikeouts in 911 2/3 innings.

Five months ago he moved from the Indianapolis area to Franklin, Tenn., near Nashville, to be closer to the music scene.

'I'm trying to learn some guitar,' he says.

Notes

• Portland Christian's baseball team got off to a 5-0 start that included a 14-7 win over Madison. The Royals' new coach, Ryan Miller, is a former Madison player and coach. 'I've got a great group of kids,' Miller says. 'They show up every day ready to work hard.'

Pitcher Jesse Severson got the win over the Senators, even though his team gave up six unearned runs as Madison scored all its runs in one inning.

Severson also had 11 strikeouts in five innings of the 12-0 win over Colton in the season opener. 'He's not a power guy, but he throws a ton of strikes, changes speeds and keeps guys off balance,' Miller says.

The Royals have six players batting .500 or better. Leadoff man Eric Tolleson is showing some power, too, with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Football star receiver Charlie Antal bats third and has two HRs and seven RBIs. 'He's probably our best overall player,' Miller says. 'He's fast and can steal a base anytime he wants. I think baseball is his best sport.'

Antal is lined up to play football and baseball at Wheaton (Ill.) College, although other schools still are looking at him for baseball, Miller says.

Portland Christian's new baseball field could be ready for play as early as May 4, when the Royals are slated to meet Knappa in a doubleheader. 'It was built with all private donations and business sponsorships,' Miller says.

• Defending state champion Wilson has been playing strong competition in Arizona over spring break.

Joey Mahalic's walk-off home run, after walks by Max Teschner and Travis Suda, gave Wilson a win over a team from Grandview High of Denver. Brian Keast hurled 2 1/3 innings of key relief.

Mahalic pitched four hitless innings against Boulder Creek (Colo.), but the Trojans wound up losing 6-3. In the sixth inning, they made four errors, yielded a homer and allowed six runs.

On Wednesday, Arizona's No. 2 team, Brophy Prep ofPhoenix, beat Wilson 6-3.The score was 5-3 when Mahalic left after four innings.

Johnny Verschueren had seven hits in the first four games for Wilson.

• PIL baseball and softball league play resumes Monday. Cleveland will be at Roosevelt in a key 5A baseball game. The Roughriders missed the playoffs by one game last year.

• Central Catholic got a 4-0 softball win over Grant but lost to Gresham 2-1 in nine innings during the Rams' spring-break tournament. Benson is showing promise; the Techsters lost just 5-3 to Central, then 10-4 in a game in which both they and the Rams went to the bench. Benson edged Franklin 5-4 and lost to Sunset 11-1 in the CC tourney.

• Lincoln's dance/drill team hung its sixth straight state championship banner in the school gym at an assembly last week.

'It's always a rush,' coach Sara Anderson says. 'It's just as sweet as all the others. It always feels like the first time all over again.'

The team had 13 seniors among its 48 members, fairly typical for the Cardinals. 'We never lose a huge amount of kids and have to rebuild,' Anderson says. 'And our seniors this year were amazing, on and off the floor. Great students, great kids.'

Anderson, who also coaches the Junior Blazer Dancers, credits Lincoln's success to 'team chemistry and unity.'

• Three senior boys who played last year aren't out for golf this season, but Cleveland has the makings of a good team. Sophomore Conor Logan returns as the No. 1 man. Behind him are sophomore Jeff Wall, freshman Jonathan Menashe and sophomore Mike Mackin. 'Those three are best buddies and have been playing golf together for years,' coach Geoff Richman says. Another sophomore, Paul Lambert, has been thrust into the No. 5 spot.

• Wilson's No. 1 boys golfer is senior Brian Norton, who also played basketball for the Trojans. Last year's low scorer at the district tournament, Keva Kirakossian, now is a sophomore at Tualatin. A sophomore, Elliott Hill, will help pick up the slack.

• Jefferson has a varsity softball team for the first time in years. About 25 players are involved, and Jeff will field a junior varsity team, too. 'We've got a great freshman class of girls who have played at Peninsula Park,' varsity coach Wendy Shelton says.

Pitching is crucial in softball, and Jefferson Athletic Director Marshall Haskins is trying to find a pitching coach willing to help develop the Democrats' hurlers. 'We have a good freshman and sophomore,' Shelton says, 'and with a little extra coaching, we'd go off the charts.'

• Estacada's inaugural season in the Oregon High School Hockey Association ended in dream fashion. The Rangers beat four-time defending champ Lincoln 3-2 to win the league title at Valley Ice Arena in Beaverton.