A8 THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, AuguST 17, 2019 CONTACT US FOLLOW US Gary Henley | Sports Reporter email@example.com facebook.com/ DailyAstorianSports Locals enjoy big summer with Lower Columbia club The Astorian Jacob Morrow, Warrenton Dylan Rush, Astoria Ethan Lindstrom, Naselle Clatsop County had two representatives on the Lower Columbia Baseball Club this summer, and both fin- ished among the top hitters and pitchers on the Triple A Legion team. Based in Longview, Wash- ington and sponsored by Highlander Dental, the club is comprised of players from the lower Columbia region — from Astoria, Warrenton and Clatskanie on the Oregon side, to Naselle, Wahkiakum, Mark Morris, R.A. Long and Toutle Lake in Washington. Astoria’s Dylan Rush and Warrenton’s Jake Mor- row were regular starters for Lower Columbia, which fin- ished the season late last month at a tournament in Newport. A pitcher/infielder, Rush finished with the third-low- est earned run average (2.97) among Lower Columbia pitchers, and sported a 3-5 record with four saves. He struck out a team-high 39 bat- ters and walked 15. Rush started six games, pitched a team-high 54 innings, and threw four of Lower Columbia’s five com- plete games on the mound. A senior-to-be at Asto- ria, Rush batted .250 (16-for- 64) with a double and 14 runs batted in, and drew 12 walks in 22 games played. A senior-to-be at War- renton, Morrow was Lower Columbia’s starting catcher and third-leading hitter among the regulars, batting .353 (18-for-51), with three doubles and 17 runs batted in. He drew eight walks and was hit by pitch a team-high seven times, for a .500 on-base percentage. Naselle’s Ethan Lindstrom also saw action at shortstop and pitcher for Lower Colum- bia. He started five games on the mound and went 1-1, with 24 walks and 13 strikeouts. At the plate, he batted .236 and drove in 12 runs. Lower Columbia won its first four games of the sum- mer and finished 13-20. Pac-12 has no clear favorite, but plenty of potential By GREG BEACHAM Associated Press LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12’s national championship drought hits 15 years this winter, and there are few signs of a respite. Several of the conference’s tradi- tional powers are in states of rebuilding or disarray heading into a season that’s murk- ier than a Mike Leach metaphor. Even the preseason media poll couldn’t identify a clear favorite, with plucky Utah barely emerging on top after several schools essentially split the vote. But to the coaches entrusted with return- ing the West Coast’s conference to national competitiveness, this seeming parity only underlines the overall strength of a league on the rise again. Elite talent is easy to find around the Pac-12, and several programs are in a position to potentially put it all together. Still, the Pac-12 doesn’t have a tradi- tional power in peak form after graduation losses at defending champion Washington and Stanford, Southern California’s mis- erable 2018 season and the questions still looming around resurgent Oregon and its 5-4 conference mark. Into the gap stepped Utah, the (rela- tive) conference newcomer with numer- ous returning starters, an elite defense and promising quarterback Tyler Huntley. Whether the Utes live up to their hype or another power emerges, Huskies coach Chris Petersen is confident this league is on its way up again. “Five or six years ago, the Pac-12 could do no wrong,” Petersen said. “We were in the greatest position ever, and we were going to do this and that. And five years later, (people think) we don’t even know how to play football anymore. It’s always somewhere in between. I know we’ve got good players out here, and good coaches and programs. I think it’s all cyclical.” Here are more things to watch during the Pac-12 football season: Utes up front Utah is the preseason favorite, but it’s not going to anybody’s head in Salt Lake City, according to coach Kyle Whitting- ham. In fact, he wants his Utes thinking not about national championships, but only about achieving Pac-12 supremacy, largely because the league’s South Division teams are 1-7 in the league championship game. “We felt like we were going to have some preseason hype, and so we wanted to make sure that we got out ahead of it and talked to our players about just ignoring the noise and staying focused,” Whittingham said. “We all know that the Pac-12 champion- ship is our goal, as I’m sure is every team in the Pac-12, so the focus is not on the goal. It’s (on) how we are going to achieve that goal.” Trojan hot seat Coach Clay Helton clearly needs a swift rebound with his Trojans coming off their first losing season since 2000, including five losses in their last six. USC finished 91st in scoring in the FBS despite a tal- ent-studded offensive roster, and Helton addressed the problem by hiring blue chip coordinators Kliff Kingsbury and then Gra- ham Harrell, who brings his version of the Air Raid offense to Tailback U. The Tro- jans’ brutal early season schedule is an obstacle to a quick turnaround, but Helton knows what’s expected — or else. See Pac-12, Page A7 AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth Chris Carson, left, and Rashaad Penny. Seahawks hope Carson, Penny can form potent running duo Carson ran for more than 1,100 yards last year By TIM BOOTH Associated Press R ENTON, Wash. — After an injury-shortened rookie year, running back Chris Carson spent his second season with the Seat- tle Seahawks proving he is a legit- imate bruiser who can be a primary ball carrier. Despite rushing for more than 1,100 yards, however, there is a good chance Carson will find himself shar- ing the workload this season with sec- ond-year back Rashaad Penny. And Carson sounds just fine with that. “We got a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things,” Carson said. “We complement each other really well so it’s just great to have that kind of depth.” Carson is still going to be the head- liner in an offense that is expected to run the ball as much as any team in the league, if not more. But last year’s first-round pick, Penny, appears primed for a potential breakout sea- son as Carson’s complement. A year ago, Seattle averaged 160 yards per game on the ground to lead the NFL, going against a league-wide trend. “You can say that the running back position and the running game have been devalued,” Carson said. “I’m just glad it’s not here, you know what I’m saying? I’m glad that they really utilize the running game a lot.” Carson rushed for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns last season. His 247 rushing attempts were seventh in the league, but he missed two games with minor injuries, highlighting the need for depth. That’s where Penny could get his chance, and he appears to have put in the work during the offseason to deserve additional carries. His rookie season hit a bump early when he broke a finger during training camp and the recovery seemed to stunt much of his development. It was the first signifi- cant injury Penny had suffered. ‘WE gOT A LOT OF guyS THAT CAN dO A LOT OF dIFFERENT THINgS. WE COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER REALLy WELL SO IT’S JuST gREAT TO HAVE THAT KINd OF dEPTH.’ Chris Carson | Seahawks running back “It messed me up mentally. It took a toll on me,” Penny said. “I think it was a huge step of my rookie year — getting hurt, not participating in practice, losing that speed, losing that edge, losing that aggressiveness and attack on how I was presenting myself last year.” It wasn’t until the second half of the season — including a memorable game in a loss to the Rams where he rushed for 108 yards — that Penny finally started to become a factor. The game against the Rams was a brief glimpse of what the Seahawks believe they will see out of him. “Rashaad came back with his weight in a place, where his body fat was way down from what it was before,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He had a great offseason, he’s stronger and faster than he’s been. He looks really, really good right now. We are really excited about it.” One area where Seattle would like to see more production from Carson and Penny is in the pass- ing game. Carson had 20 receptions and Penny had just nine last season, while now departed third-down back Mike Davis got most of the recep- tions among the running backs. The Seahawks believe the combo of Car- son and Penny can make up for the 34 receptions Davis had last season. Offensive coordinator Brian Schot- tenheimer said roughly 50 targets for Carson would be a reasonable goal. “People are understanding that getting the ball to your backs in space in the passing game is a good thing,” Schottenheimer said. “They’re still as elusive as they are running the ball, so when you get them the ball out in space in the passing game it’s the same problem for the defense. They have to make those plays out in space on really good athletes.” NOTES: Seattle held its final pub- lic practice Thursday. Among those returning to action after sitting out due to minor injuries were TE Jacob Hollister (groin), RB Travis Homer (quad), RB C.J. Prosise (hip) and RB/ WR J.D. McKissic (foot).