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29TH ANNUAL BERNIE MILLIGAN ALL-STAR GAME: ECR ALL-STAR HAS IVY ON HIS MIND.

Byline: Sean Martin Special to the Daily News

Ryan Lavarnway put on an impressive performance on the baseball field this season, helping El Camino Real of Woodland Hills to the City Section title. What he did in the classroom might be even more outstanding.

Lavarnway carried a 4.17 grade-point average at ECR and scored 1370 on the SAT. He is headed next fall to Yale University, where he will play baseball. The school does not give merit-based scholarships.

Lavarnway hit .459 with six home runs and 39 RBI this season for the Conquistadores and received an invitation to Saturday's Bernie Milligan All-Star Game at Cal State Northridge.

A professional scout, impressed with Lavarnway's baseball skills and potential to play professionally, told El Camino Real head coach Matt LaCour that Lavarnway should consider attending a school with a better baseball program if he is serious about making baseball a career.

``I told (the scout), `You just don't turn down Yale,''' LaCour said. ``After I said that, he understood where Ryan's priorities are.''

Lavarnway said he would love to play professionally but realizes it is not a realistic goal. He cited a statistic that about one in 7,000 high-school baseball players make the majors. He has considered becoming a politician, doctor or rocket scientist after college.

His priorities are shared by many of his teammates. LaCour said he tries to emphasize academics as much as athletics.

LaCour's team held a weekly study hall, and Lavarnway - like many of his academically successful teammates - tutored players who were struggling in the classroom.

``You don't hear guys at our place get on guys for being too smart,'' LaCour said. ``It's the other way around. If guys are not pulling their weight in the classroom, they'll hear about it. He fits in with the mix.''

His statistics made the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lavarnway stand out. He received first-team All-West Valley League honors and is expected to be a first-team All-City selection.

Larnaway helped defeat rival Chatsworth three times this season, including the May 28 City Section championship game at Dodger Stadium. It was the Conquistadores' first title since 1998.

``He was a big reason we were able to get over the hump,'' LaCour said. ``Coming into this season, there were guys we knew would have big years and guys we were hoping would have a big year.''

Lavarnway fit into the latter category. LaCour was looking for him to improve on his .295 average last year, and Lavarnway did not disappoint. He succeeded because he is able to successfully combine his athleticism and intelligence, LaCour said.

Players who perform well in the classroom are often too cerebral on the field, not allowing their natural athletic ability to take over. Lavarnway balances the two perfectly, LaCour said.

That ability has led to a special opportunity that should allow him to succeed even if he doesn't play baseball after college.

``I've always been told by my parents to lead a balanced life and keep my options open,'' Lavarnway said. ``I would love to play professional baseball, but if it doesn't work out, (I'll) have a degree from Yale and (be) set for the rest of my life.''

Sean Martin, (818) 713-3607

sean.martin(at)dailynews.com

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 6, 2005
Words:544
Previous Article:DAILY NEWS ALL-STAR SOFTBALL NOTEBOOK: BASHING JUST LIKE HER IDOL.
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