WESTMINSTER — The Western Maryland College softball team has improved every seasonunder coach George Dix, now in his fourth season.
This year, a pair of North Carroll graduates -- graduate student Betty Anne List andfreshman Sandy Johnson -- have done their share to help make the Green Terrors one of the best small-college teams in the area.
Entering today's game against Messiah (Pa.) College, Western Maryland is 15-3 overall -- including a team record 15-game win streak --and 5-1 in Middle Atlantic Conference play.
List, a left fielder,has seen the highs and lows of the program. A standout high school pitcher, she came to WMC as a pitcher prior to Dix's regime.
After missing her sophomore season -- Dix's first -- due to illness, Dix moved her to the outfield, where she has been ever since.
"I came back (her junior year) and we had a lot of pitching. I wanted to pitch but knew I might not," List said.
"Playing outfield gave me a whole new challenge and now I really love it."
The move has paid off greatly for List and the Green Terrors. Batting second in the lineup, she provides timely hitting and much-needed leadership to a team thatstarts four freshmen on most days.
"She's supplied us with a lot of leadership," Dix said.
"I put her in the outfield and she has really adjusted well to it and accepted it, knowing it would help the team.
"She also does a lot of things batting in the second spot for us. Batting left-handed, she's a great bunter and has come up with some clutch hits."
In the team's first 16 games, List batted .276 with 15 runs batted in, 16 runs scored and a team-leading eight walks. All the while, she has played near flawless defense in left field, with only one error.
Johnson also learned a new position this season, going from shortstop in high school to third base for the Green Terrors. The adjustment certainly hasn't affected her bat, as she leads the team in most offensive categories.
Batting fifth in Dix's lineup, Johnson is hitting .426 with 18 RBI and 19 runs scored. Of her 26 hits this season, 11 are extra-base hits, including six triples.
"She's added a lot of punch to the lineup," Dix said. "She's also doing a great job playing third base.
"There's a lot more bunting in the college game than in high school, so I switched her to third and she's handled the bunts very well. She has good, soft hands."
Johnson says the adjustment from high school to college has not been difficult.
"It's really not that different," she said. "The pitchersare a little faster but we had some fast ones (at North Carroll) so it hasn't been too much of a change.
"The Manchester and Hampsteadrec programs really helped me out a lot. They really drill the basics to you. And in high school, (North Carroll coach Phil Bonnell) refined our skills and really showed us how to compete and win."