All-State shortstop Graysen Partain hopes to lead Banks to a league baseball title as he moves to a new position

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Banks senior Graysen Partain, who committed to Treasure Valley Community College, is a multitime all-league and all-state selection as a shortstop, but he will move to catcher this season as he looks to spark the Braves on a Cowapa League title chase. For the past three springs,

Graysen Partain has been a mainstay at shortstop for the Banks baseball team.

The middle infield is a place Partain has found great success, having been named a First Team All-Cowapa League selection three times and a Class 4A

All-State pick in 2011 and 2012.

But don’t expect to find Partain back at shortstop much this season.

Because Banks graduated All-State catcher Shea Rue last spring and coach Brian Ackerman thinks he can get the most use out of Partain at catcher, that is where the all-star senior is playing this season.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Partain, who started shifting to the catcher position last week after Banks’ first few games. “It’s a huge job and you have to be a real leader to do it, and I feel like I can be that leader and I want to be that leader.”

For Ackerman, moving Partain behind the plate is something of a no-brainer.

“He’s such a good baseball player, such a good headsy player, knows the game really well,” Ackerman said. “The catcher position, you need somebody to run the show. It’s the catcher (and) shortstop running the show, and really, the catcher does it first. He’s the guy that everybody looks at — he’s involved in every play, he’s making calls, he’s making reads.

“And that’s perfect for his mentality, his mindset, the way he thinks.”

That mental acuity for baseball has been developed over years of playing the game. Now 18, Partain played for youth organizations in Hillsboro and Forest Grove during his elementary school years, often playing up on teams with older participants while growing up in Hillsboro. (His family moved to Banks when he was a freshman.)

Partain’s father, Dean, was an early influence, working with his son and coaching his youth teams.

“I think he really helped me a lot and pushed me to do it and really got me into it when I was younger,” Partain said about his father, who he said was drafted as a baseball player out of college but had his career end due to a shoulder injury.

As for the younger Partain, who is the second-oldest of four children and also played football and wrestled for Banks, his stint at catcher likely will be a short one. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball next year at Treasure Valley Community College, where he expects to be back at shortstop or second base.

Partain said he selected Treasure Valley, which is located in Ontario — almost right on the Idaho border along U.S. Interstate 84 — over other possibilities such as Lower Columbia CC (Longview, Wash.), Clackamas CC, Mt. Hood CC (Gresham) and Chemeketa CC (Salem) for its new head coach and facilities.

The Chukars went 13-3 over the non-conference portion of their schedule this season and start Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges play against Blue Mountain today.

Partain is, at least according to Ackerman, ready to play at the college level.

“I’ve seen Pacific play. I’ve watched a bunch of NAIA schools, (NCAA) Division IIII schools,” Ackerman noted. “With his glove and bat, he’s just as good as a lot of the kids there right now. And mentality- and baseball-wise, he’s got that already. He can see the game. He knows the game real well, probably a lot better than most high school kids, which helps him a ton.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Banks senior catcher Graysen Partain swings at a pitch during a non-league road game against Gladstone last Friday.“But I think he made the right decision going to a (junior college).”

Opting to start out at a two-year rather than a four-year institution — which is where Partain said he eventually wants to wind up — does have its advantages.

“You’re getting a lot more playing time and you’re getting more experience, and so I think it’s just better for you in the long run,” explained Partain, who plans to study criminal justice and eventually work in law enforcement.

In Partain, who is 5-foot-7 and about 155 pounds, the Chukars are getting someone who described himself as a shifty player with good hand-eye coordination, solid with his glove and possessing “decent” arm strength.

And though Partain does not hit home runs frequently— though he has hit more than one in high school — Ackerman said “he still hits the crap out of (the ball),” and can bunt and steal when he gets on base.

On base is where Ackerman expects Partain to be a lot this season. He estimates that in the Braves’ first five games, Partain, who has been batting in the leadoff spot this year, has been walked about 10 times.

“He’s not just known in the league now, he’s known in the state,” Ackerman said. “We played Central our first game, and they didn’t give him anything to hit.”

But that is just something Partain will have to deal with while he tries to help Banks win. His Braves went 2-5 to start the season before a scheduled game against Rainier on Tuesday (after press deadline). In Partain’s first three varsity seasons, Banks had overall records of 7-16, 7-11 and 10-14, and the squad lost state play-in games to La Salle each of the past two years.

This time around, to cap his high school career, Partain would like to help Banks win a Cowapa League title, which would set up he and his Braves teammates for a potential playoff run.

Said Partain: “It’s my last time in high school, last sport. It would be pretty cool to make a title run.”

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