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Prep Watch

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAN BROOD - Central Catholic High sophomore Sam Muskat delivers a pitch against Tigard.Baseball and softball are off to promising starts at Central Catholic High.

The baseball team, young but experienced, took a 3-1-1 record into the week. The softball squad, which also has a mix of key seniors and seasoned youth, is rolling at 6-0.

• On the baseball diamond, the Rams return eight starters, but have only four seniors on their roster.

Senior leaders include Holden Oglesbee and Anthony Brink, and coach Dan Floyd says both junior Cole Stringer and sophomore catcher Ronnie Rust are among his Division I prospects.

Junior Gabe Scanlon, Oglesbee and Rust were second-team all-MHC players a year ago, and Stringer made the all-MHC first team.

“A number of underclassmen will end up playing college baseball, and some of them have unlimited ceilings,” Floyd says.

Central Catholic posted victories of 3-2 over Grant, 3-0 versus Tigard and 5-3 against Dallas, and finished in a 4-4 tie with Beaverton.

The Rams’ sophomore left-hander, Sam Muskat, tossed a two-hitter, with 13 strikeouts and two walks, against the Tigers. Rust fueled the offense in that game with two triples. He also scored all three runs and stole a base.

The Rams’ next five games are away, including a Thursday clash at West Linn and a Saturday doubleheader at Mountain View. After an April 10 game at Jesuit, MHC begins with an April 14-17 three-game series with Centennial.

The Rams made it to the second round of the 6A playoffs last year, winning at Tualatin 3-2 before losing at Lake Oswego 7-5. Injuries plagued the Rams, who wound up 15-13 after placing third in the MHC behind first-place Reynolds and runner-up Barlow.

“This is a very good team that hits the ball well and runs the bases aggressively,” Floyd says. “The season will come down to defense and pitcher. Those are areas where we have to improve, if we’re going to have a chance at making a run in the state playoffs.”

• On the softball field, Central Catholic won its opener 1-0 against Jesuit, then outscored Putnam, Beaverton, Hermiston, Grant and Forest Grove by a combined 53-8.

Coach Sara Stauffer’s third Rams club is showing good pitching and defense and especially hitting.

“At Jesuit, we hit the ball well, just right at people,” Stauffer says. Since then, “our coaching staff has been very, very happy with the offense. We know if the bats are there, we’re going to at least contend for” a Mt. Hood Conference title.

The Rams finished 21-8 last season. They took third in the MHC at 10-5, trailing winner Barlow and David Douglas. The Rams got to the 6A quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion North Medford 10-0.

Only two players graduated from that 2013 team, and the returning corps includes pitcher Katie Barron and catcher Brittney Duronslet, four-year starters.

“Katie is just smokin’ it by people; the batters haven’t caught up to her yet,” Stauffer says. Barron also has improved her control, the coach says. The Rams, for instance, hit 30 batters last season. This year, Barron is 5-0 with an 0.93 ERA, with only four hit batters to go with 55 strikeouts and 29 walks in 32 innings.

Duronslet “has a cannon for an arm,” Stauffer says, “is a good leader, knows how to play the game, knows Katie and can hit for power.”

The infield includes sophomores Ashley Doyle at first base, Jessie Nagae at second, Alexis Newby at shortstop and Kylee Hupmhreys at third, where freshman Grace Dooney also can step in. All four of the infield sophs were on the varsity last season. Newby and Humphreys can serve as back-up arms on the mound. Doyle is on a tear, leading the team with a .632 average, three home runs and nine RBIs.

In the outfield are senior Hailey Frilot in center, senior Koratney Speidel in left or right, and senior Abby LeDoux.

Juniors Taylor Maxwell (designated player) and Paris Sykes (utility) add to the experience and depth.

The Rams have a big week ahead, facing three solid clubs. CC is at Glencoe on Wednesday, at home against Clackamas on Thursday and at Sandy on Tuesday, April 8.

Then comes the 15-game MHC season, with Reynolds and possibly every team looking improved from 2013.

“We don’t have a game where we can take it easy,” Stauffer says. “It’s going to be really fun and competitive.”