Glenelg setting sights on another title 1993 High school baseball preview

March 22, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Atholton

Pitching and catching will be Atholton's strengths as it attempts to repeat as county champion. The Raiders posted a 14-7 overall record and 11-3 league mark and shared the county title with Glenelg last season.

Coach Kevin Kelly returns six players but only one starter.

Pitcher Richard Blankenship didn't throw a lot of innings, but the side-arming right-hander was effective in relief and is expected to do well as a starter. Blankenship also plays the outfield.

Joining Blankenship as one of Atholton's top two pitchers is junior right-hander Shane Beaver, a hard-thrower who started and won one varsity game but spent most of his time pitching for the junior varsity where he won six games. Beaver also plays third base. He was 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA for the 15-16 Columbia Reds last summer, striking out 71 batters in 56 1/3 innings.

Catching is in the capable hands of Kevin Nickey, a returning senior. But Nickey batted only .214 for the varsity last season and must show more punch or risk losing his starting job to junior Ryan Schneider, who is up from junior varsity.

Nickey batted .360 last summer for the 17-18 Columbia Reds, but missed half the season after cutting his hand.

Schneider batted .319 for the 15-16 Columbia Reds last summer with 11 doubles, one triple and two home runs. He threw out 86 percent of would-be stealers. He also can play center field.

"Catching is our strongest position," Kelly said.

Senior Ryan McQueeny, the backup shortstop last season, takes over that position full time.

Junior Derek Schneider is a talented center fielder who can run and hit and has a good arm. He batted .348 for the 15-16 Columbia Reds last summer, including 14 doubles, four triples and three home runs. He also stole 38 bases.

Sophomore Peter Yoder, a left-handed hitter, is a good defensive player at first base.

Second base should be split between junior Mark Lowenthal and junior Spike Altman. Altman also pitches and Lowenthal can play shortstop.

Sophomore D. J. Chiles looks like he'll start in left field.

"We'll be young this year, but should be a contender by next year," Kelly said.

Centennial

A lot of coaches would like to have Centennial's pitching staff.

Senior Brent Mertes and juniors Kurt Weitzel and David Hudson form a formidable mound trio that may keep the Eagles in title contention. They finished 8-6 and fourth in the league last season.

Mertes is a control pitcher who played for the 17-18 Columbia Reds last summer and impressed its coach, Tom Showe.

Hudson played for the 15-16 Dayton Raiders where he struck out 53 in 61 innings and compiled a 4-5 record and 4.10 ERA. He also batted .315 with seven extra-base hits.

Weitzel, Centennial's hardest thrower, also played for the 15-16 Dayton team, but missed most of the season with a broken wrist. He was 2-0 with an 0.73 ERA before the injury.

The team behind those pitchers will be extremely young and small in numbers, however. Several seniors quit because they disagreed with some of third-year coach Ron Martin's methods, leaving him with just 11 players.

Martin makes everyone on the team meet a qualifying time for a 5-mile run.

"A bunch quit on me because they didn't like some of my decisions," Martin said. "But as long as the flu bug doesn't hit and we keep injuries to a minimum we'll be all right."

One plus is that several players on the team can play multiple positions.

Sophomore Jason Babcock can catch or play the outfield. He batted .336 for the 15-16 Dayton Raiders, who finished second in the Baltimore Metro League last summer with a 23-12 record.

Junior Joe Mellendick can play second base or shortstop, and he batted .359 with 13 extra-base hits for the 15-16 Dayton team.

Senior catcher Chris Forstner is one of only six returnees.

Martin is looking to three sophomore newcomers for offensive help, including center fielder Curtis Mitchell, outfielder Brian Dowell and first baseman Kevin O'Connor.

"Defensively we won't be the best in the county but we won't hurt ourselves," Martin said. "I think almost every game in the county should be close this season. I'd be surprised to see any one team run away with it."

Glenelg

Last season when Glenelg tied Atholton for the county championship it was the Gladiators' fifth title in 10 years under coach Terry Coleman.

They did it with the worst offensive team in Coleman's 13-year coaching tenure. The Gladiators set school records by scoring only 83 runs and stealing only 28 bases. And they batted only .255 as a team. They were 12-6 overall and 11-3 in the league.

This year's squad shows enough promise to win another title and almost certainly will produce a lot more runs, although its pitching might not equal last year's 1.73 team earned run average.

Senior right-hander Jeff Lewis returns from a 7-1 season in which he had a 1.73 ERA and won four 2-1 games.

"He's a real pitcher," Coleman said. "He changes speeds and knows how to pitch in and out."

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