Synowski's pitching ensures Spalding doesn't miss a beat Junior steps up with 3 shutouts

April 12, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

"You don't replace a Kim Sheridan," Archbishop Spalding softball coach Jim Nemeth said last month, when asked about losing one of the most dominating pitchers in the state.

If you're Nemeth, you don't panic, either. You simply hand the ball to junior Rachel Synowski and let the opposition do all the worrying.

Synowski, 16, has removed any doubt about whether the No. 2 Cavaliers will survive without Sheridan, The Baltimore Sun's Player of the Year last spring, who won 58 games and had 14 career no-hitters.

It's a different pitcher, with the same results.

In Spalding's opener March 31, Synowski pitched a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts to beat Mount de Sales, 13-0.

Five days later, she limited Seton Keough to two singles and struck out nine in a 10-0 victory.

And Thursday, she allowed singles to Christa Engleman and Tina Wilkinson, and struck out 13, as Spalding defeated Institute of Notre Dame, 4-0, to remain undefeated going into today's North County Holiday Tournament at Randazzo Park.

So much for the pressure of following Sheridan and trying to lead the Cavaliers to a fourth straight Catholic League championship.

"Rachel is a level-headed kid and, she's pitching within herself," said Nemeth, whose team was ranked No. 2 in the metro area last week.

"I don't think I ever talked to her about Kim [before the season]. I meet with all the players at the beginning of the year, and we just sort of go through their goals, and our goals."

Synowski said she just wanted to throw as well as she could and "win a lot of games, as many as possible.

"It's hard to follow somebody who was as good a pitcher as Kim," she said. "I'm just trying to do the best I can. Whatever comes out of it, comes out of it."

The comparisons to Sheridan, who received a scholarship to the University of South Carolina, are inevitable.

"They're both pretty close to being the same quality pitcher. They're both like pitching machines," said Mount de Sales fourth-year coach Tim Jordan.

And each has a vast repertoire of pitches. Synowski has a fastball, change, riser, drop and drop curve and is toying with a screwball that she says "works every now and then." Sheridan also used six pitches, including a drop that she implemented as a senior.

Still, "I'm a little different from her," Synowski said. "She's got a lot more speed than I have, and she has different ways of throwing the fastball and drop."

Synowski is proving to be the same offensive threat. In Spalding's first three games, she had six hits, including a triple, and two RBI.

Last year, she batted .352 with 11 RBI while playing mostly at shortstop, a position she will return to when Nemeth decides to go with another pitcher, like senior Kelly Newbert or junior Carrie Parsons.

As a freshman, Synowski started in center field and didn't pitch. But she didn't grow impatient awaiting her chance to become the team's No. 1 pitcher.

"There are other positions besides pitcher," said Synowski, who rTC was 2-0 last year, including a no-hitter. "I love to pitch, but I didn't mind playing somewhere else."

Nemeth is glad to have Synowski on the mound full-time.

"She's got tremendous control, she's got great movement on her pitches, and she's got a great work ethic. And she's got a great deal of confidence in herself when she goes out there," Nemeth said.

"She definitely has the potential to pitch college ball."

Just like another Spalding player.

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