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TRL tough as ever in baseball


Clackamas figures to be in the thick of things in the league title chase

by: VERN UYETAKE - Returning infielder/pitcher Austin KellyClackamas High School baseball coach John Arntson believes that the Three Rivers League will be the toughest Class 6A high school baseball league in the state this spring. And he believes his Cavaliers will be one of the top teams in the six-team league.

“I think our league is as good as any league in the state, without a doubt,” Arntson said last week. “In fact, I think it’s the toughest league. We’ve got three teams that should be in the top 10 in the state.... Oregon City, Lake Oswego and Clackamas should be top 10, at least preseason.”

Arntson pointed out that defending state champion Oregon City has all of its top pitchers returning. And he says of defending TRL champion Lake Oswego, “Lake Oswego is always good. Their coach, Jake Anders, has built a strong program. And Lake Oswego was good in summer ball. I think they only lost four games.”

Arntson also speaks highly of his Cavaliers: “We’re a lot deeper than last year. This is the deepest team I’ve had at Clackamas. We could field two teams and be very competitive at the varsity level....

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can pitch. Our pitching is as deep as it’s been in my 17 years at Clackamas.”

Arntson lists eight players — all right-handers — vying for action on the mound this season, including seniors Austin Kelly and Skyler Schlunz; juniors Aaron Ahlstrom, Taylor Stinson, Jared Bell and Zach Farnes; sophomore Luke Burns; and junior closer Josh Devore.

Kelly, Ahlstrom and Devore saw varsity action last year. Bell is a transfer from Lake Oswego. Stinson was the ace for a Cavalier jayvee team that won the majority of its games a year ago, according to Arntson.

Ahlstrom was a second-team all-league selection as a sophomore.

The Cavaliers return two of their top players from last year in third baseman Austin Kelly and centerfielder Garrett Myers. Both were unanimous first-team all-league selections a year ago, when the Cavaliers (16-11, 9-6) tied Oregon City (20-11, 9-6) for second place in the TRL, finishing back of Lake Oswego (23-5, 13-2).

Returnees senior Jake Iverson (shortstop) and junior Cade Wilkins (outfield) also received all-league recognition last year.

Iverson returns to shortstop and as backup at catcher; Wilkins, who is still recovering from major surgery to a knee, is playing designated hitter this spring.

Ahlstrom returns to start at second base or shortstop when he’s not on the mound.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Returning infielder/pitcher Aaron AhlstromArntson says that with all the depth, his starting lineup is still a work in progress. Top prospects include: junior Taylor MacClanathan at catcher; senior Jarrod Switzer and Stinson at first base; Ahlstrom and sophomore Luke Burns at second base: Iverson and Ahlstrom at shortstop; Kelly and junior Cole Scruggs at third base; senior Ryan Gilbert and Bell in left field; Myers in centerfield; junior Michael McDonald and Devore in right field; and Wilkins and senior outfielder Curtis Powelson at designated hitter.

“Our depth is a double-edged sword,” Arntson said. “It means good competition on the team, but it’s an added challenge for me, trying to get everyone playing time.”

Arntson said he is very happy with Clackamas’ new artificial turf infield.

“It’s been awesome!” he said. “We played Sunset five innings in the rain and the only reason we had to quit after five innings was because of darkness.”

The Cavaliers have had their share of success in early preseason, going 6-0, with wins over South Salem (7-3), Glencoe (15-4), Sunset (8-6), Roseburg (4-0), Beaverton (3-0) and Putnam (5-4).

Bell, Burns and Scruggs pitched against South Salem, combining for three strikeouts, while walking three and scattering six hits.

Kelly hit a solo home run. Myers (2-for-4) and Burns (2-for-4) both had a pair of hits; and Gilbert smacked a two-run double.

Kelly, Ahlstrom and Devore pitched in the Glencoe game, combining for five strikeouts, while yielding three hits and nine walks.

The Cavaliers reached Glencoe pitchers for 15 hits, led by McDonald (2-for-2, 2 doubles, 5 RBI), Bell (2-for-3, triple, 2 RBI) and Stinson (2-for-3, 2 runs). Myers, Scruggs and Ahlstrom had doubles in the slugfest.

The Cavaliers erupted for eight runs in the fourth inning in an 8-6 win over Sunset on March 19. They took advantage of seven walks and an error in the big inning. Wilkins and Ahlstrom had the only hits in the rally.

Ahlstrom, Burns, Scruggs and Farnes pitched, yielding six hits and five walks, while striking out six.

“It rained the whole time,” Arntson said. “It was a walk-fest. It was an ugly game.”

Sunset pitchers walked nine Clackamas batters, while allowing just four hits, in the Apollo loss.

Ranked sixth in the state, the Cavaliers (6-0) play West Salem (3-2) on the road next Tuesday. They entertain Jesuit (4-1) on Thursday, April 4, and they begin league play on Monday, April 8, when they play host to defending state champion Oregon City (2-2).