PREP WATCH: With speed and plenty of it, Grant is a PIL 6A contender
by: DENISE FARWELL, Senior pitcher Vernell Warren, who also plays shortstop and hits third, is 4-0 on the hill.

Speed thrills at Grant High.

Coach Rob Kennewell's speedy baseball team is still in the running for the PIL 6A title after taking one of three games from defending state champion Wilson last week.

The Generals (5-2) won the third game 6-3 after losing the opener 4-1 and falling 11-2 to Trojan star pitcher Joey Mahalic. Wilson, which went 16-0 in the PIL last year, entered the week 5-1.

'We should have won the first game against them,' Kennewell says. 'It was 1-1 going into the sixth inning, and we had momentum. Then we made a couple of young mistakes.

'But we're getting better.'

Grant doesn't have much power or great pitching, but the Generals are one of the fastest teams around.

'We're fun to watch,' Kennewell says. 'A double can be a triple, and a single can be a double for us. Our No. 9 hitter and Nos. 1 to 5 batters all can fly.'

The track meet starts at the bottom of the order with junior Austin Potts. Then come center fielder Andre Broadous, catcher Bryan Butcher, shortstop Vernell Warren, right fielder Mitch Attig and pitcher-utility man Kyle Johnstone. Broadous was a tremendous runner at quarterback, and Butcher played wide receiver.

Kennewell calls Butcher 'one of the best catchers in the state' and describes Broadous, a fellow junior, as 'Jackie Robinson for us - a great statesman, a great person.'

Warren, a senior, is the most highly recruited baseball player on the team. He's 4-0 on the mound in league play.

He also competed on the Grant track team for the first time Friday, doing the high jump.

He cleared 6-7, putting him second on the state-best list this year. He started at 5-6 and didn't miss till 6-8.

Grant track coach Greg Cotton hopes to have Warren jump again.

'I only need him two days - city (May 8 or May 10) and state (May 17),' Cotton says. 'There's no baseball scheduled those days.'

Meanwhile, in baseball, Grant's youth cost it some potential victories in preseason. 'We led Corvallis 3-0 and lost 5-3 late,' Kennewell says. 'We were up 10-3 on McNary and lost 11-10. We lost 3-2 in extra innings to Highland Ranch of Colorado.'

So, speed isn't everything.

'You can't steal first base,' Kennewell says,

• Roosevelt sophomore Larry Richards, who emerged as one of the state's top point guards as the Roughriders reached the 5A state title game, already has offers from Portland State, the University of Portland and Oregon State, according to Rider coach Robert Key. 'He wants to decide on a school before his senior year starts,' Key says.

Richards also has turned out for baseball and is playing outfield on Key's 11-man junior varsity team. 'He hasn't played baseball since middle school,' Key says.

• Cleveland freshman Alex Rovello is competing this week in the prestigious Easter Bowl, a U.S. Tennis Association spring national championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Cleveland and Lincoln have rescheduled a tennis match for April 26, when Rovello could meet friend and 2006 PIL champion Peter Jones at Washington Park.

Rovello's supporting cast at Cleveland includes senior Ross Herring; juniors Andy Jursik and Nnamdi Agum; sophomores Charlie Stanford, David Fukanaga, Nathaniel Meskel, Jens Knudsen, Jamie Pagen, Ben Naemura and Reed Teasdale; and freshmen Brad Eckerson and Jasper Degens.

'The team really has good spirit,' says fourth-year coach Darryl Kealy, a former head pro in New Jersey and Canada. 'Alex is in a category of his own. But he's very nice, humble, and really wants to do his part for the team.'

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