After 7 state titles, Northeast softball coach leaves Pitonzo wants to spend more time with family

January 16, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Lynn Pitonzo announced yesterday that she will not return this spring as softball coach at Northeast High School, ending one of the most successful tenures in state history.

In 14 seasons, Pitonzo's teams won nine regional and seven Class 2A state championships. The Eagles also put together a 64-game winning streak, fourth-longest in the nation, that concluded with a 4-3, 16-inning loss to Glen Burnie in April 1991.

She leaves with a 238-55 career record, and no regrets.

"I decided that this was the right time, and it's now or never," she said. "There's always somebody you want to stay for, but I just had to leave now."

Pitonzo, named The Baltimore Sun's Coach of the Year last season, said the desire to spend more time with her family

led to her decision to quit. She has one son, Jon, who is a ninth-grader at Mount St. Joseph, and another, Marc, who is a fourth-grader at Lake Shore Elementary School.

"It's time to give them back some of my time. My family needs my time now, my husband included," she said.

Pitonzo said she knew "before the end of last year" that she wouldn't be returning as coach, but waited until yesterday to make it official. She wanted to tell her players before contacting the media.

"We all cried," she said.

Melissa Scarborough, a first baseman on four state-championship teams from 1988-91, said: "Everybody who played for her had a lot of respect for her. She never had to discipline anybody because they all respected her enough not to cause any problems."

Pitonzo met with Northeast athletic director Roger Stitt last week, and the school's principal, Dr. Joseph Carducci, on Thursday to discuss her plans.

"Her program has been extremely successful and an extremely positive one for the school, beyond just victories and championships," Stitt said. "Any time you lose a coach who had that kind of an impact, it's not a happy thing. She's obviously someone who will be very difficult to replace."

Stitt has contacted the personnel department at Anne Arundel County's Board of Education about advertising the coaching position. He hopes to name a successor before the county softball meeting Feb. 17.

"I know that I share the sentiments of the rest of the coaches in the county when I say I respect Lynn as a coach and thought she did a tremendous job at Northeast," said Chesapeake softball coach Dennis Thiele. "I known I'll miss her."

Northeast had its string of four-consecutive state championships broken by Damascus last year in the Region III finals. But with a young lineup that included just one returning full-time starter, the Eagles weren't expected to make it that far.

"The year before, everybody was telling me, 'Go out now, go out now. All your kids have graduated,' " said Pitonzo, whose team finished at 16-4 and ranked No. 6 in the metro area.

"The kids last year worked hard and proved they could win. The kids have to get a lot of the credit during these 14 years."

Pitonzo said she hopes one of her assistants, Earl Dundorf, Ron Price or Marianne Shultz, will be chosen the new coach.

"There's no guarantee," she said. "If not, they'll still be there as assistants, so there will be continuity."

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