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New Pacer baseball coach drawing raves

Ian Lamont could not have been any more excited about his first new hire as the athletic director at Lakeridge High School.

'I think it's a real find,' Lamont said after announcing Colin Griffin as Lakeridge's new baseball coach.

At the age of 26, Griffin is relatively young for a head coach in high school, but he already has a ton of coaching experience.

He's been an assistant at Willamette University since graduating from there in 2004. Currently, he's the head coach of the Salem Dodgers, who earned a spot in this week's American Legion state tournament. And last year, he coached the Saarlouis Hornets, a semipro team in Germany, to its best record in franchise history.

Since graduating from Willamette, Griffin also has been conducting team clinics and private lessons to youth players in and around Lake Oswego.

Most importantly, Griffin has a level of enthusiasm that would be hard for anyone to match. And he desperately wants the Lakeridge baseball program to regain its once lofty status.

'I'd like to get it back to where it was when Dave Gasser coached the team,' Griffin said.

Gasser led the Pacers to state titles in 1999 and 2001, but times have been lean since he left, including a 1-23 season this year.

Lakeridge and its feeder schools have their share of good athletes, but it seems fewer and fewer of them are choosing baseball each year. Griffin hopes to change that, and he said it doesn't have to be at the expense of the boys lacrosse team, which has won the last three state titles in that sport.

'The school has talent, it's just a matter of getting them out,' Griffin said. 'I don't see why baseball and lacrosse can't both be dominant.'

Considering the recent misfortunes of the Lakeridge baseball team, Griffin might be hard-pressed to turn his team into an instant contender for a league title. But there will be the pressure of showing at least a fair amount of improvement. Griffin hardly seems fazed, though.

'Maybe I should feel the pressure. But I think it's the excitement that I feel more than anything else,' he said.

One thing is for sure, Lakeridge's parent group seems to be solidly behind its new coach, who graduated from Jesuit High School and spent two years at Clackamas Community College before going to Willamette.

'The community is very, very excited about him,' Lamont said.

After Griffin was hired, one father who was part of the selection committee said, 'I wanted to get my mitt and play catch,' Lamont said.

'This is my first hire as an AD and I think it's a heck of a hire,' Lamont added.

The only concern now is that Griffin will bolt for greener pastures once he gets Lakeridge's program headed in the right direction.

Griffin wouldn't make any commitments, but he did say he was happy to be here.

'I hope to do this for the long haul,' he said.