by: VERN UYETAKE - The Pacers Cooper Webster delivers a pitch to the plate in Lakeridges opening game of last weeks Firecracker Tournament.Although he had virtually no downtime between coaching his own team and making sure that other games being played on two fields at Lakeridge High School were running smoothly, Pacer coach Colin Griffin stopped for a moment after retrieving a home run ball behind the fence of the new Lakeridge JV field.

"I stopped for a minute and sat down behind left field and even though it's a brand new field it looked old to me because it's something I've envisioned for years. It was pretty awesome," Griffin said.

Lakeridge hosted 12 teams in a very competitive field and despite some weather that seemed more suited for early spring rather than the fourth of July, the tournament went off without a hitch.

Things went so well that, after just one year of expanding to 12 years, Griffin is hoping to round out the field to 16 next summer.

"My wife keeps telling me to stop and says that the tournament's big enough already" Griffin said.

But Lakeridge seems more than capable of handling a larger field as the Firecracker Tournament has blossomed since Griffin took over the program.

The Eugene Champions, a combined team made up of All-Star players from around the Eugene area, captured the tournament. The team has four players who are committed to the University of Oregon.

The Champions defeated Columbia River in the title game.

Lakeridge also hosted a team from Perth, Australia whose coaching staff has ties to the Northwest.

Lakeridge was competitive in all three of its pool games but lost to Sprague, Forest Grove and Westview.

"We were in every game but we struggled a little on offense. We're still missing five guys on this team, too and haven't played with a full squad yet," Griffin said.

Westview won Lakeridge's pool, tossing a perfect game against Forest Grove in the process.

Lakeridge has a good mix of youth and experience on its summer league team this year, including a large class of incoming sophomores.

The Pacers are replacing a talented core of seniors but the players that Lakeridge has to fill the void is a good indicator of the health of the program.

Sophomore Graham Leib had a strong all-around tournament hitting No. 1 or 2 in the line-up for the Pacers and roaming centerfield.

"He reminds me a lot of Nick Sotta. He can run down any fly ball," Griffin said.

Lakeridge will look for continued improvement as the summer progresses. The team is currently 4-2 in league in OIBA this year and has key tilts upcoming against Jesuit and West Linn.

"This is one of the first summers I've had where development has been really important. Every day we're focusing on fundamentals. We're kind of starting from ground zero but it's a very talented group of kids," Griffin said.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine