Column: In the font row

by Tom Coombe Echo editor

If the Ely Timberwolves have anything to say about it, the prize for whatever team lands the second seed in the Section 7AA high school baseball playoffs will be an early exit from postseason play.<BR><BR>Ely, despite a subpar regular season that has included 11 losses in 15 games, looms as a very difficult opponent for the second-seeded club when the tournament opens Wednesday at four sites around the section.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves are seeded seventh among eight teams in the north subsection, but they may have the most dominant pitcher among the squads in senior lefty Tim Scott.<BR><BR>Scott is the probable starter for the Wolves in the playoff opener, and he’s been nothing short of dominant in recent outings, including a May 16 no-hitter against Mesabi East and a one-hit, 15-strikeout performance three days earlier against Duluth Marshall, one of several possible contenders for the second seed.<BR><BR>Seeding was set to be determined after deadline, with Marshall, Eveleth-Gilbert, Greenway and International Falls in a four-way battle for seeds two through five. Virginia wrapped up the top seed Tuesday with a victory over Greenway.<BR><BR>There’s usually a big difference between the top seeds and the rest of the competition, but that’s not the case this year in AA baseball.<BR><BR>With Scott on the mound, Ely beat Marshall and lost one-run decisions to both Greenway and Eveleth-Gilbert. Junior Nick Furnstahl had a good outing on the hill when the Wolves lost to Virginia, 6-3.<BR><BR>Other than undefeated Hermantown in the south half of the draw, 7AA has no outstanding teams.<BR><BR>Ely has struggled at times but has also lost its share of close games. <BR><BR>No matter the Wolves’ record, it wouldn’t be a surprise or an upset if they pull off a first-round win.<BR><BR>• This will be the Wolves’ last year in AA. They’ll be back in Class A in 2006, where natural rivalries exist with Nashwauk-Keewatin, Babbitt-Embarrass-Soudan-Tower and Mt. Iron-Buhl.<BR><BR>• Liz Podominick, the Minnesota Golden Gopher multisport athlete with Ely family ties, won both the discus and shot put at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this month.<BR><BR>Podominick, a sophomore from Lakeville, had a winning throw of 171 feet, 3 inches in the discus. She is the second Gopher to win the shot put (52 feet, 2.5 inches) and discus titles at the same outdoor Big Ten Championships. <BR><BR>Next up is the NCAA Division I regional competition.<BR><BR>Podominick is the granddaughter of Elyite Al Podominick. Her parents are John and Margie (Cashin) Podominick.<BR><BR>• Julie Anderson was part of the conference champion women’s track team at St. Thomas. The Tommies won the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title earlier this month.<BR><BR>Anderson, a 2004 Ely graduate, finished 14th in a field of 22 runners at the St. Thomas Invitational on May 7.<BR><BR>• Ely’s Josh Weckman picked up five wins on the mound as a pitcher for Itasca this spring.<BR><BR>The Vikings won the Northern Division, placed third in the state and went 1-2 in the community college baseball regional playoffs at Willmar. Weckman is one of many former Ely high school and Legion baseball players on the roster of the Ely Oredogs, the local amateur baseball team that makes its debut Tuesday night at Virginia.<BR><BR>• Bill Planton, a former Ely High School and American Legion baseball star, was named the most improved player at Luther College (Iowa) this spring.<BR><BR>Planton pitched for two years at Luther after transferring from Vermilion Community College. He worked 22 2/3 innings, posing a 1-1 record with a 4.79 earned run average. Luther finished 24-15.<BR><BR>• Blaine Turnbull will continue his college basketball career at Central Methodist University, an NAIA school based in Fayette, Mo.<BR><BR>The son of Ely alumni Mike and Pam (Loe) Turnbull played for his father, also a former Ely coach, at Hibbing Community College, where he averaged five points, six rebounds and four assists per contest for the Cardinals.<BR><BR>The 6-5 Turnbull played both forward and guard for Hibbing and was a three-sport athlete (basketball, football and baseball) both in high school and in college.<BR><BR>“We have landed another first class individual that will help our program get to the next level,” said CMU Head Coach Jeff Sherman. “To have someone capable of playing three sports on the collegiate level is unique. Blaine will be a huge asset to our program.”<BR><BR>Turnbull is the grandson of Ely residents Rod and Tootsie Loe.<BR><BR>• Chris Blackwood has signed to play basketball at Humboldt State, an NCAA Division II school in northern California.<BR><BR>An annual summer visitor to Ely, Blackwood is the son of former Elyite Tom Blackwood, who won more than 600 games as a prep basketball coach in California.<BR><BR>After transferring to Campolindo High School before his junior year, Chris Blackwood needed just two seasons to become the school's career assists leader with 351. He is coming off a senior year in which he averaged just over 15 points to help lead Campolindo to a North Coast Section Division III championship and within two points of playing for the California Interscholastic Federation state championship.<BR><BR>