The Wildcats' secret is out of the bag: Arundel baseball team No. 1 nationally

SIDELINES

June 02, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Great news for Anne Arundel County baseball. For the second time in three years, the county has the No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation, the state 4A champion Arundel Wildcats (21-1).

The Baltimore Sun's top 15, has had Arundel No. 1 most of the spring, and now the Easton Sports Original National High School Poll, as published by Collegiate Baseball, has vaulted coach Bernie Walter's Wildcats from No. 3 in the nation to No. 1.

Arundel copped its record sixth state championship in Walter's 20 years at the Gambrills school with an 11-2 romp over the Washington area's top-ranked team, Gaithersburg (17-3) of Montgomery County, Saturday night at McCurdy Field in Frederick.

Meanwhile, the two teams ahead of Arundel in the previous Easton poll, Duncanville, Texas, and Simi Valley, Calif., then No. 1 and No. 2, both lost moving Arundel up the ladder with a great chance of duplicating the mythical national crown taken by Northeast in 1991.

That season the Harry Lentz-coached Eagles went 24-0 to garner the highest honor, marking the first time a Maryland team ever had done so.

"Our kids are ecstatic right now," Walter said. "They tell me there will probably be one more poll, which will be the final one, and then the official decision as to who is the No. 1 team in the nation will come in October."

Northeast was tabbed No. 1 in the final poll in June 1991 and retained the lofty standing that fall. It should be the same for Arundel, Walter's best defensive team in his tenure.

The Wildcats' team fielding average was .966, and the infield turned 20 double plays, no small achievement in just 22 games at the high school level.

Collegiate Baseball ranks the nation's top 30 teams, which are selected by a nationwide panel of high school and college baseball coaches. Important factors in establishing the rankings -- besides the coaches' votes -- are: record, toughness of schedule, win streaks, wins at home vs. away and depth of pitching staff.

The most recent poll has Simi Valley (26-3) at No. 2, followed by Sarasota, Fla., (28-6); Duncanville (28-1); and Crespi of Encino, Calif., (27-2).

"We've got a great shot at being No. 1 in the final poll," Walter said yesterday.

This and that

Picking up a few loose ends from the recently completed high school sports season, let me give you a few questions without answers.

* Did you know that Tim Giles' final batting average, .586, tied the state and county season record set by Severna Park's Rob McCandless in 1991?

Arundel senior catcher Mike Cozzone had a shot at establishing a new average record but went 3-for-7 in his last two games to finish at .569. Cozzone went into the final two games at .585.

* Did you hear that Archbishop Spalding baseball coach Tom Lind severely injured his right hand in an accident at home but is on the road to recovery?

"It hampered my fungo hitting, but I expect to be OK," said Lind who spent four days in the hospital.

* What makes a high school sports program successful?

A good feeder system definitely plays an important part, and North County girls lacrosse coach Tom Taylor is the first to give credit where it is due.

lot of our success this year [8-7 record, Class 3A-4A playoff berth] goes to the Apache girls youth lacrosse program," he said.

"This is the third year of the Apache girls program, and we are reaping the benefits. We made the state semis with a very young team, and several of our girls are from the Apache program.

"George Sauble deserves a lot of the credit for developing the program."

North County boys lacrosse coach Paul Shea still has an invitation out to former Andover, Brooklyn Park and Knights' players to participate in Saturday's annual alumni game, at noon at North County High.

Proceeds go to the Knights' scholarship fund.

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