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Joe Monahan takes over a young team loaded with potential

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Karsen Lindell is expected to be one of the top returning players in the Three Rivers League this year. He will be the Lions' ace this year and bat in the middle of the order. West Linn's baseball team is turning to a young, but exceptionally talented, core to turn around its recent fortunes on the diamond this year.

Led by new head coach Joe Monahan, who most recently coached at Southridge and who has been involved with West Linn's youth program for years, the team is hoping to start challenging for Three Rivers League titles again sooner than later.

The Lions have a strong pitching staff and should be solid defensively, which gives the team a good foundation as it looks to rebuild.

The pitching staff is anchored by sophomore Karsen Lindell, a Division I prospect who could be among the top hurlers in the state.

Senior Garrett Meisen will be the team's experienced No. 2 pitcher while Will Matthiessen and Trevor Wells will likely each see starts at the No. 3 spot, at least early in the season.

“Pitching is going to be a strength for us. We have five or six guys we can go to who are consistent,” Monahan said.

West Linn should be nifty with the glove all over the field but particularly up the middle. Catching for the Lions is senior Chase Meyers who brings veteran leadership to the team.

Another leader both on and off the field is shortstop Braden Vogt.

“He's a catalyst for us, hitting leadoff. He brings a lot on both sides of the ball and knows how to be an example,” Monahan said.

Sophomore Brayden Pene will helm second base and Blake Herman will see time at both second and third.

In centerfield, West Linn is starting freshman Tim Tawa, a player with a very high ceiling in the program.

“He has good instincts and can fly in the outfield,” Monahan said.

Lindell and sophomore Will Matthiessen will each fill in at the corners when they're not pitching and Monahan is excited about Matthiessen's potential.

“He's an excellent hitter and really has the chance to be something special for us,” Monahan said.

West Linn has been focusing on its hitting early in the season with the hopes of changing its luck in close games.

“The team competed well last year but lost a lot of one-run games. We need to learn how to win and so we've been working on our mental approach to the game,” Monahan said.

West Linn's line-up has plenty of potential with Lindell and Matthiessen in the middle of the order, followed by Tawa and speedsters Vogt and Jackson Brooke up top.

West Linn is off to a 3-4 start in non-league games this year, most recently knocking off Lincoln 6-0 Tuesday. However, three of those losses have been by just one run.

The Lions expect to compete in the extremely difficult Three Rivers League this year, one that has some of the top arms in the state.

“Clackamas might be the favorite and Lake Oswego and Lakeridge aren't far behind but winning a league title is always going to be our goal,” Monahan said.

The coach hopes that this year will be a stepping stone to the Lions revisiting the success that has been missing the past few seasons.

“It's been great to come back after investing a lot in the youth program and we're looking forward to getting back on track,” Monahan said.

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