After winning the Class 4A state title in 1988, the Annapolis baseball team has watched its record drop to 19-37 during the past three seasons.
And with the caliber of competition within the county league, the Panthers steadily have fallen into the second division.
"I'll be pretty patient with this team. I've set up a timetable as to getting the team at top form. I'd like for them to start gettingclose to top form about two or three games into the season," said veteran coach Larry Brogden, whose troops sputtered to a 6-12 record in1991.
"They're coming along at a steady pace so far."
PitchersBrian Kapusta (1.52 ERA) and Caron Johnson will head the pitching staff, while upperclassmen Ty Selby (catcher) and Rich Carrion (first baseman) will attempt to give Annapolis some offensive punch.
Brogden says that the Panthers have more speed than they've possessed in awhile. Johnson's 10 stolen bases led last year's club.
Senior outfielder Anthony Dove, first-year junior outfielder Thomas Ford and classmate Chris Crisamagna -- who missed most of last season with a leginjury -- also were singled out by Brogden as having better-than-average speed.
In softball, the legs and bat of returning sophomore third baseman Uyen Do helped spark a dramatic 8-7 extra-inning triumphover Southern in the next-to-last game of the season -- a win that went a long way in helping Gloria Day's team prepare for '92.
Before the May 8 victory, the Panthers had dropped 90 consecutive games over a five-year period, and Day thinks the long-awaited win may help revive the program.
"I think it did a lot for us as far as promoting the sport here at Annapolis, and it gave us the needed publicity sothe girls would come out for the team," she said.
"They now see that I'm trying to build up and promote the team, and because of that,more of the athletic kids are coming out for softball instead of theother sports. We had 32 kids sign up and 29 (14 varsity, 15 junior varsity) are still with the program."
Pitcher Jenny Mauck, who received credit for the win against the Bulldogs, returns for her senior year, as do classmates Jen Traumbauer (shortstop), Leeta White (infield) and Nikki Finkelstein (outfield). Sophomore outfielder Jaime Hennessey also gives Annapolis speed.
"We've been looking bad during the preseason, but we played pretty well against Broadneck in a scrimmage. Our hitting is better, but we still haven't come up against a power pitcher," said Day.
Of Mauck, Day said, "Jenny is steadily improving, but I have to get her to be a little meaner. She has to come out there with an attitude. I'm still working on that."
The third-year coach also expects good things from freshman third baseman EmilyNugent.
"She keeps her head in the game and she's a good, aggressive hitter. And her arm is very strong," Day said. "In practice, the girls watch her throw and all they can do is just shake their heads."
While a 1-17 record leaves plenty of room for improvement, Day feels that she doesn't have as far to go to improve this year's contingent as in previous seasons.
"With the kids I have coming back, we can get more into strategy, more than skills. A lot of them have adequate skills, so that puts us that much further ahead."