Optimism Reigns At Severna Park

March 22, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff writer

One coach has been on the job for over 20 years, while the other is entering his inaugural season. But when it comes to measuring optimism this spring, both Jim Pitt and Wayne Mook are on equal footing.

Pitt, in his 23rd season, has a solid nucleus of players at his disposal who again should lead the Severna Park baseball team to the playoffs.

Mook, meanwhile, takes over the Falcons softball program after Paul Yannuzzi moved on to Arundel, where he will work as an assistant this spring. The longtime boys basketball coach assisted Yannuzzi for the past two seasons, so the transition has been a smooth one.

"The kids knew me and I knew them," he said, "so to be honest, I don't think it's been that much of a major change."

The only real change is at shortstop, where All-Metro selection Shani Cannon has departed after four memorable seasons on the varsity. She batted .400 last year with 25 RBI and only five errors.

"But everyone else is back," Mook said.

Hence, the rosy outlook for this season.

The lineup is filled with quality hitters, like seniors Kerri Schmale, a second-team All-County outfielder who batted .407 during the regular season, and Dana Gosewisch (.383), a third-team outfielder/designated hitter.

The pitching is in good hands with sophomore Jen Spampinato, who hardly looked the part of the nervous freshman last season, when she went 11-5 and was named second-team All-County.

"She's very, very talented," Mook said. "She got thrown into it all last year as a freshman and she handled everything extremely well. She's very mature anda smart pitcher."

Her backup, third-team selection Jen Conner (3-0), didn't come out for the squad this year, so Mook can't afford an injury or slump from his starter.

That seems to be the only possible concern for Mook, who said, "I really predict this team will accomplish an awful lot. I told them from Day One that we should be the best team in the county.

"We've got a great group of seniors coming back. I think the outlook is very promising."

The same is true of the baseball team, though Pitt is working with more youth, and therefore, more uncertainty.

"With nine sophomores, we have an interesting mix of youth and experience," he said. "It should be an interesting year, and I think we'll be good for the next three years."

This will be Pitt's last year with center fielder Steve Neuberger, who batted .461 with 20 RBI last season. "He's the best center fielder we'veever had at Severna Park," Pitt said.

Another senior, pitcher/shortstop Rob McCandless, hit a county-record .586 last season, including 15 doubles. He also went 6-2 on the mound in being named first-teamAll-County.

The third senior, speedster John Novak, is being moved from the outfield to second base. Last year, he batted .406 with five home runs.

Toss in junior John Milisitz, back at his natural position of catcher after playing third base and batting .340 with fourhome runs last year, and Severna Park shouldn't lack for runs.

Pitt's biggest worry is a shortage of pitching depth and experience. Steve Foreman graduated after going 5-3 last year, and the early favorite to back up McCandless is junior newcomer John Ritter.

"We have a difficult time finding live arms in the community, but if I can getsome help from the No. 2 and 3 guys, we'll be fine," Pitt said.

"It's a good bunch of kids to work with and I look forward to a very successful year."

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