Most of Wagner's softball talent had been going south on Coach Paul Tewey, until this weekend.
Trying to explain Wagner's early season 2-7-1 record (2-0-1 against the county's 16-18 fast-pitch league), Tewey listed key players who have been vacationing in Ocean City.
"You've got Kim Sheridan, Heather Smith, Erin Sutton, Sherry Green and Jean Salkeld," said Tewey, in his third year as the team's manager.
"A lot of them are just getting over their graduations and their proms and they needed a break. I expect them to all be back
[today], so if I were another team, I'd be concerned. I'd try to get us in June, because in July, we're going to be very tough to beat."
Tewey and the rest of Wagner's coaching staff are celebrating the team's 10th anniversary with a tournament, which began Friday at Randazzo Park and concludes with today's 3 p.m. championship game.
Assistant coach Ray Cohen helped start the program 10 years ago. Assistant Mike Ackerman is in his fourth year, while assistant Al Sheridan is in his second season.
"If you look at what Wagner's has accomplished, about 90 percent of the kids who have gone through this program have played in college," Tewey said. "They win about 75 percent of their games in college. You're talking about some great players, and Kim Sheridan looks like another one."
Sheridan, chosen as the 1992 Softball Player of the Year by the Anne Arundel County Sun and The Baltimore Sun, brings the most experience to this year's club.
She went 13-3 with an 0.64 ERA in her final season at Archbishop Spalding, carrying the Cavaliers to their third straight Catholic League championship. Sheridan amassed 191 strikeouts at Spalding and hurled four no-hitters -- including three perfect games.
Headed for the University of South Carolina on a full scholarship, Sheridan made her fourth national tournament appearance in last year's 70-team Amateur Softball Association Junior Olympic Women's Under-18 National fast-pitch championships.
For Wagner's last year, Sheridan, a two-time All-County selection, shared pitching duties with Chesapeake graduate Amy Jakubowski, the 1991 Player of the Year.
In the fast-pitch championships, however, Sheridan went the distance in three of Wagner's four games, fanning 20 batters against six walks and yielding an average of four hits.
Wagner's went 2-2 in the tournament and ended the year at 64-15-1.
"Pitching is definitely our strength. We can go about six deep and can go with anyone at any time," said Tewey, whose club boasts players from throughout the Baltimore-Washington area.
"I saw a lot of them during camps I did as an assistant coach at Catonsville [Community College]," said Tewey. "We're excited that they've decided to play for us."
Sheridan will get plenty of help from former Glen Burnie off-speed pitcher Mandy Albrecht, who earned first-team All-County honors in 1991 after leading the 12-3 Gophers to a runner-up finish in Class 4A Region IV.
"We have a lot of talent on this team," said Albrecht, 18, who just completed her freshman season at Towson State University, batting .364 and pitching to a 1.63 ERA. "I think we're going to be a lot better than some people think."
With a .421 average, including four home runs and 23 RBI, Sheridan will be the clean-up hitter in what should be a powerful batting order.
Archbishop Spalding senior Kelly Mabe (second-team All-County) and recent Glen Burnie graduate Erin Sutton (first-team All-Metro in 1991), will bat first and second, respectively.
Wagner's No. 3 batter is first-team All-Metro pick Heather Smith, a recent Glen Burnie graduate who hit .500 for the Gophers.
Smith, who is taking her talents to East Carolina University, stole six bases and had a .792 slugging percentage for the Gophers, including eight doubles and three triples.
Infielder Michelle Ackerman, a first-team All-County pick at Glen Burnie in 1991, sat out her freshman season at UMBC with a knee injury and was red-shirted. Tewey hopes she'll soon be heathy enough to bat.
"When the veterans come back, we'll have all of our hitters," said Tewey. "Then we'll really start making contact with the ball."
This year's Wagner's squad also will feature a couple of pitcher/outfielders from the Baltimore area in Dulaney junior Julie Green (All-Baltimore County) and Western senior Tracy Gruzs (All-Citywide).
Wagner's also has picked up a pair of pitcher/outfielders from Pallotti of Laurel in Prince George's County.
hTC Junior Jean Salkeld and senior pitcher Kelly Barkman helped Pallotti to a 21-1 record and its second consecutive Catholic Girls Athletic Association crown. Among Pallotti's victories was a 6-5 win over Archbishop Spalding with Sheridan on the mound.
Woodlawn graduate Sherry Green, another All-Baltimore County selection, will join Albrecht at Towson in the fall. Green can play in the infield or the outfield, or as a catcher, while Whitney Dunn is a catcher/outfielder from Calvert County's Northern High.