Owls looking to tough it out Star Batten says team must be mean

November 01, 1992|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Nicole Batten has accomplished the ultimate in the life of a high school field hockey player.

She scored the goal that gave her team, Westminster High, the state 4A championship last season. There is really nothing else Batten can do to top that feat.

But the senior Owls forward is doing her best this season to at least make sure Westminster repeats as state champ.

So far, all has not been smooth sailing for the Owls, who open defense of their title tomorrow in the Class 4A regionals.

Batten and her teammates have been upset by North Carroll and Linganore in the regular season. The loss to 2A North Carroll was especially hard to take because it enabled the Panthers to share the Central Maryland Conference title with the Owls.

Westminster takes a 10-2 record into the tournament but will not be able to match last year's 15-1 mark.

"We need to get meaner," said Batten. "It's not that we don't want it [state title], but we need to be more aggressive. Some people are naturally nice on and off the field. On the field, you have to turn it on and then be nice off the field."

Batten said she is nice off the field and speaks to everybody but turns into a bit of a tiger on the field.

"I know I push sometimes on the field and get wrapped up in winning but that's what it takes," said the girl who shares the Westminster spotlight with teammate Tinah Houck.

Houck has 14 goals and one assist, and Batten has four goals and three assists. Both play forward and link.

Owls co-coach Brenda Baker said: "Nicole is not a showy player, but she gets the job done. Having her back this year after scoring the winning goal in the state championship game has been a big help. She's a great motivator, doesn't ask for anything and is a hard worker."

Baker agrees with Batten in terms of the team being too nice at times.

"We have the skill, but the inborn aggressiveness is not there," said the coach. "When we were playing Quince Orchard, the girls found out at halftime that their goalie was deaf. They seemed to pity her and didn't try as hard. I told our players I was sure the girl wouldn't want their pity and would be insulted if they didn't play their best against her. I told them to admire her, not pity her."

Batten believes Westminster has a good chance to overcome those weaknesses and become only the second field hockey team in school history to win back-to-back state titles.

"There's a good possibility we will win the state championship again," said the Owls co-captain. "When we get together before the game and stretch and get mentally ready for a game, we win. Sometimes we just don't have time for that."

Batten said there was a bit of complacency around the Owls at the start of the season.

"There was a feeling on the team that we were the state champions and nobody could beat us," she said. "But we learned differently when we lost to North Carroll. Last year, we lost to Liberty in the regular season and that pushed us to the state championship. I hope the two losses this year will push us even more."

No matter what happens, Batten said she always will be glad she gave up gymnastics for field hockey.

"There was a lot of pressure in gymnastics," said the Owls star. "Field hockey is more fun. Our team is like a family."

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