You hear it at every level of baseball, from the majors down to Little League -- good pitching wins games.
Chances are you'll see a lot of good pitching in Carroll when the high school season begins later this month.
It starts in South Carroll, where the Cavaliers have their top two pitchers returning, seniors Joe Goodwin and Mike Downs. The two provided 11 wins last season for coach Joe Foltz, who's expecting biggerthings from the duo this year.
Other top pitchers returning are seniors Scott Reaver from North Carroll, Rob Ruhlman of Westminster and Liberty's Shaine Norris.
"The pitching in the county is going tobe strong," Foltz said. "Reaver, Ruhlman and Norris are all back andwe lost to all three."
South Carroll figures as the early favorite, coming off a 16-5 season with a lot of offensive firepower returning to go with the strong pitching.
North Carroll also will be a force with a veteran group that learned how to win last season -- turning a 0-17 season two years ago into a 10-8 one last year.
Westminster has talent coming back and although Liberty is in a rebuilding year, the Lions could be dangerous if they can get some additional pitching to compliment Norris.
Francis Scott Key is another team readyto come of age and could be this year's surprise, as North Carroll was a year ago. Competing in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, the Eagles have their entire infield back for a third straight year.
Francis Scott Key Eagles
Fourth-year coach Bob Caples has pretty much told his kids it's now or never.
"The future is now," he said.
The Eagles have a wealth of experience returning -- including an entire infield that has played together three years at the varsity level.
"We have a lot of kids who have played since 10th grade and paid their dues. We look pretty good and I'm more than cautiously optimistic," Caples said.
The Eagles main concern is pitching. Caples does have some experienced hurlers, who, if they produce, could make the Eagles' season one to remember.
Juniors Jason Smith and John Engel will be the top two starters with classmate Dave Ruskey waiting in the bullpen.
Offensively, the Eagles shouldn't have too many problems scoring runs. Seniors Eric Bohn, who batted around .400 last season, and Dave Layman will lead a solid attack.
"We'll have a balanced attack," Caples said. "We have a lot of guys who can hit the ball -- everyone in the lineup is a decent hitter."
The Lions are rebuilding and 10th-year coach Bryan Harman will be thefirst to tell you.
The Lions finished last season with a solid 12-7 mark but have a lot of holes to fill after losing seven seniors tograduation.
"We're a little green," Harman said.
"We're stressing fundamentals and reloading this year. We have a lot of young kidsand so far I like what I see."
The Lions have four seniors returning, led by Norris and and center fielder Gray Johnson, who batted more than .300 last season and will likely lead off.
After Norris, the pitching is a question mark and Harman is doing what he can to fill the void.
"We're really concentrating on pitching," he said.
"Anybody who's thrown before is giving it a try, we have nine kids throwing and they've been very receptive to the challenge. If I can, I'd like to use them all -- you never have enough pitching."
Harman knows the Lions will have to be at their best in order to compete with the more experienced teams in the county and in the Central Maryland Conference.
"We're going to have to scrap for everything we get," he said.
"It should be a strong CMC and county race this season and we'll have to be on top of our game to be there."
North Carroll Panthers
The Panthers were the surprise of the county last year and may be even stronger this year.
After going 0-17 two years ago, North Carroll turned things around dramatically last year, finishing 10-8.
Fourth-year coach Craig Walker believes he has four quality pitchers, led by Reaver and senior Doug Hamilton.
"Reaver's velocity has really picked up and he throws four pitches. Hamilton looks real smooth also," Walker said.
"We have four legitimate pitchers,which will enable us to make quicker moves if one is having a bad day."
The Panthers' offense looks just as promising with Hamilton, Reaver, Benny Jackson and Dave Polischeck keying the attack.
"We'vegot six kids who can reach the fence," Walker said.
"We're just going to go out and do our best and let everything else fall into place. I've been telling the kids it doesn't matter whether we win or lose, it comes down to looking in the mirror and knowing you've done thebest you've can. I also want the kids to have fun."
Simply put, the Cavs are loaded.
On the mound, they have the best one-two duo in the county with Goodwin and Downs -- both experienced and proven winners. The two combined for 11 of the team's 16 wins last season while losing only three.
Offensively, Foltzhas a number of players who can be the hero on any given day.