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The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year player draft got underway today, and the Seattle Mariners were afforded the luxury of the 3rd overall pick as a result of their poor finish last season.

With that pick, the Mariners chose catcher Mike Zunino, a junior from the University of Florida. The 21 year old was ranked as the top catcher in the draft, and has been touted as a strong, athletic catcher with excellent power as a hitter. In 62 games with Florida this season, Zunino had a batting average of .312, hitting 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in.

EUGENE, Ore. - Elite Northwest runners and throwers tested themselves against Olympic-caliber competition this weekend in Eugene. Some athletes found the experience sobering, while others drew encouragement with about two months to go before the Summer Olympics.

KPLU

A study has found that Seattle's SoDo neighborhood can handle the traffic that may come from building a third sports arena in the area.

The study was released Wednesday by the City of Seattle and paid for by Chris Hansen, the developer who wants to build an 18,000-seat facility that could house an NBA and an NHL franchise near where the Mariners and Seahawks play.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

After starting the season in Japan, Oakland and Texas, the Seattle Mariners finally played their home opener Friday night against the Athletics. The result, however, was a bit too reminiscent of what M's fans saw last year.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

"To challenge yourself, you have to fight someone who actually knows how to fight.”

Up until the last few decades it was considered indecent for women to box. This year, women’s boxing will make its Olympic debut in the Summer Games of London.

The contenders for the first-ever U.S. Olympic women's boxing team face off in Spokane. It's a big development on the international stage. But the face of boxing has already been changing in small clubs across the Northwest.

Enter the Madrigal sisters.

Fans lucky enough to toast a Giants or a Patriots Super Bowl win in Indianapolis this weekend will need to stock up early on their champagne supplies. Indiana is one of just two states that ban the sale of beer, wine and liquor at stores statewide on Sundays.

The Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — After 15 years as an NFL quarterback, Jon Kitna hopes to return to his old high school in Tacoma as a coach.

Elaine Thompson / AP

A new detailed list from the Office of Financial Management names University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkasian the top paid Washington state employee in 2010, with $1.98 million in gross pay.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

On the same day the members of the Seattle Storm were honored by President Obama at the White House, the ladies learned that teammate and three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson is having hip surgery today and will be out up to 12 weeks.

It's a blow to the team whose season has not gotten off to a great start. They were WNBA champions just a year ago. Can the Storm claim the title again this year – without a lot of help from Lauren Jackson?

Hear KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel's take on that tomorrow morning at 5:35 and 7:35 on KPLU. And you'll find a blog of our conversation right here tomorrow morning as well. 

photo courtesy of the Seattle Storm

President Barack Obama welcomed the Seattle Storm to the White House Rose Garden today. Obama said the 2010 WNBA champions set a good example for young girls with big dreams. The President is a basketball fan and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, also like to shoot hoops.

Sam Lee / Flickr

Qwest is becoming CenturyLink, and that means Seattle stadium where the Seahawks and Sounders play will become CenturyLink Field.

Erik Neumann / For KPLU

This weekend some of the world’s best skateboarders are competing at Key Arena for nearly half a million dollars in the Street League Skateboarding Pro Tour. 

Competitors at the event will be judged on the style, difficulty and originality of their tricks and stunts.  The organizer is Rob Dyrdek, a former pro-skateboarder, who says he’ll also be giving $75,000 and materials from this weekend’s competition to Roxhill Park in West Seattle. 

Gonzaga continued its late season win streak, roaring through its first game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament with a solid win over St. John's last night, 86-71. The Zags dominated in rebounding, and just about every other category, against their favored Big East conference opponent, writes The Seattle Times' Bud Withers:

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

There's no rest for the weary at Seattle Seahawks headquarters. Less than a week after the end of the season, head coach Pete Carroll fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and hired Darrell Bevell from the Minnesota Vikings to replace him.

Carroll also has hired the newly-fired head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tom Cable, to be his assistant head coach and the man in charge of the Hawks' offensive line. How does all of this impact the effort to re-sign quarterback Matt Hasselbeck?

AP

Snow flurries and a fired up Bears team proved too much for Seattle, as Chicago controlled the game through most of three quarters, and held on for a 35-24 NFC semifinal playoff win at Soldier Field.

The NFC North champs scored on their first possession, led by the steady arm of quarterback Jay Cutler, making his professional post-season debut. The Bears offensive line protected Cutler all afternoon, leading to a 28-0 margin in the 3rd quarter. 

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