Atholton softball team takes giant step up in class

April 11, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

All preseason signs indicated that Atholton's softball team would be one of the county's most improved teams. The Raiders returned eight starters from a team that won its final three games in 1992 to finish third in the county.

Still, Atholton's 3-0 start rates as a big surprise. And after Atholton whipped perennial front-runner Glenelg on Monday, 8-1, the Raiders probably won't be viewed as an up-and-coming team any longer. It marked the first time Atholton had beaten Glenelg in four seasons.

The Raiders may be developing into the top softball story of the spring. They start a freshman, three sophomores and three juniors, they've already outscored their competition by a whopping 39-4, and they've done it by playing remarkably well in every phase of the game.

"We had a decent year last year, and I think they felt they were pretty good coming into this year," said Atholton coach Dave Vitagliano, referring to the Raiders' 9-11 finish. "It's nice to see proof of that so early."

Sophomore pitcher Kim Ruprecht has wasted no time proving herself. In 21 innings, she has recorded 21 strikeouts and has allowed only six hits and two earned runs for a 0.67 ERA.

She opened the season by taming Oakland Mills, 9-1, then allowed only three hits against Glenelg. Lory Wineman and Jodi Kielman, Glenelg's two most dangerous hitters, went a combined 0-for-5 and did not hit a ball out of the infield. Ruprecht followed that gem with a no-hitter against Wilde Lake to cap a 22-2 victory.

Defensively, Atholton has approached perfection by committing just three errors in 21 innings.

Vitagliano had expressed concern about his offense, because the Raiders averaged only seven runs last year. He's not frowning anymore. The Raiders are batting .375 and have given opponents fits with their timely hitting throughout the order.

Rupprecht leads the team with six RBI. Junior shortstop Stacey Williams (.556), senior catcher Amy Mina (.333) and freshman center fielder Lea Nichols each have four RBI. Sophomore right fielder Kelly Stewart (.400) and junior first baseman Stacie Vollentine (.600) have driven in three runs apiece. And sophomore second baseman Chrissy Gavin (.787 on-base average, six steals, six runs) has been excellent in the leadoff spot. What's more, the Raiders have struck out only 13 times in three games.

"What's impressed me more than anything about this team is how disciplined and businesslike they've been," Vitagliano said. "When we beat Glenelg, it was a big win, but it felt like business as usual the way the girls acted. You should expect to win if you're a good team."

No surprises at Mount Hebron

Mount Hebron's top-ranked girls lacrosse team, fresh off an 18-0 state-championship season and loaded with talent again, is blowing opponents away again. And that's no surprise.

During their 3-0 start, the Vikings have outscored their opponents, 61-13. Each of those games has been decided essentially by halftime. Coach P. J. Kesmodel has resorted to the familiar practice of clearing his bench early in the second half, as well as trying his starters at new positions.

As terrific as last year's team was, this one could be better. Five seniors -- Amy Fine (Maryland), Tierney Clark (Hofstra), Ali True (Temple), Lori Pasquantonio (Virginia) and Stacia Hepburn (Old Dominion) -- already have committed to lacrosse scholarships at major colleges. Fine, True, Pasquantonio and Hepburn are headed to top-10 programs.

"I think that's unique in girls sports, not just girls lacrosse," Kesmodel said. "I don't know of any girls program in the metro area that has five Division I kids."

Hebron's Fab Five are doing the job in their final high school season. Fine is controlling the middle of the field, and has added five goals and six assists. Pasquantonio started slowly, but still has 12 goals and four assists. Clark is playing her usual good defense and has contributed three goals and two assists.

Hepburn has scored five goals from her defensive wing position. True has barely been tested in the goal.

Then there's junior Cathy Nelson and sophomore Erin McGinnis. Nelson has been the Vikings' offensive catalyst, with a team-high 18 goals and six assists. And McGinnis, who took over at center for graduated Player of the Year Andrea Cuzmanes, has scored seven goals and added three assists.

"We've got 12 kids in weight training classes, and other kids who spent the winter lifting. We can physically overpower people," Kesmodel said. "But it's hard to tell how well we're playing because we haven't really played anybody."

That will change Saturday at the Roland Park Invitational Girls Lacrosse Tournament, which will include Hebron, second-ranked Roland Park and two state champions from Pennsylvania, Unionville and Downingtown. Roland Park opens against Downingtown at 10 a.m., followed by Hebron against Unionville. The losers play in the consolation round at 1 p.m., followed by the championship game at 2.

Howard coach resigns

Rich Asendorf, who coached Howard to a state volleyball championship in 1980, resigned, then came back to Howard in 1991, has resigned again. This time, Asendorf says it's for good.

"I enjoy working with the kids, but I realized that it took too much time," said Asendorf, who spent much of the 1980s officiating local high school and college matches, and may return to that duty. He first took over Howard's volleyball program in 1974.

Craig O'Connell, who has coached Howard's junior-varsity volleyball team for the past three years and took the Lions' girls basketball team to the 3A state finals last month, is the favorite to replace Asendorf.

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