The Pacer catcher hit nearly .600 and won Oregon Player of the Year honors

MATTHEW SHERMAN - Dutton Elske rounds third after hitting one of his four home runs this season. He also batted .565 and drew 23 walks. For anyone playing baseball in the Three Rivers League this year, it was easy to get lost in the shuffle. Despite a disappointing showing in the playoffs, the league was arguably the deepest in the state and featured some of the top individuals in the state, many of which were Division I caliber players.

At the start of the year, Lakeridge’s Dutton Elske was certainly considered to be an impressive talent, having earned a spot on the second-team all-state his sophomore year, but other individuals were garnering more attention.

The Pacers battled through a difficult schedule and Elske’s numbers started to speak for themselves.

The senior catcher was becoming not just the anchor in a strong line-up, but a force that caused opposing pitchers to constantly think about when he would be at bat again.

Elske would hit an obscene .565 for the season and sprayed the ball in every direction. He also had four home runs, 12 doubles and a pair of triples, driving in 31 runs while being administered 23 walks.

“Last year I think he tried to do too much at times. This year he just relaxed,” Lakeridge coach Marco Tavera said.

Elske did all of this while playing one of the most crucial positions in baseball as the Pacers’ catcher. He took on a new role this year as well. Lakeridge experimented with Elske calling pitches last year and turned over that duty to him entirely this spring.

“He did a great job. He and a guy like Jesse Davis have been throwing to each other since about third grade,” Tavera said.

He responded admirably and helped Lakeridge’s staff to some very strong performances.

Elske also rose to the occasion against the TRL’s top pitchers who ranked among the best in the state.

“He liked going up against guys like Nico Tallache from Canby and (Mitchell) Verburg from Lake Oswego. He didn’t shy away from the top pitchers,” Tavera said.

His season soon was impossible to ignore and the postseason accolades piled up. Elske was named the TRL’s player of the year and ultimately won player of the year honors for the state.

“I wasn’t surprised just because of the year he had. I think he was a little. He knew he definitely had a chance at making first-team all-state,” Tavera said.

Elske also had one of the top GPAs at Lakeridge and was entertaining Ivy League schools before deciding to stay closer to home and play baseball for the University of Portland’s emerging program.

Elske will follow another Lakeridge catcher in Cooper Hummel, who was a senior when Elske was a freshman. Hummel was recently drafted by the Milwaukie Brewers in the major league baseball draft.

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