Panthers' Bonnell levels playing field with defense 1993 ALL-CARROLL COUNTY SOFTBALL TEAM Coach of the Year

June 04, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

North Carroll coach Phil Bonnell, who led the Panthers to state titles in 1990 and 1991, made believers out of a lot of people last season when he turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding team into a championship-caliber one.

This season, he guided a young team to a region title and another state playoff appearance.

The Panthers started 1-3 in 1992, but regrouped to defend their county and Central Maryland Conference crowns and to win a fourth straight region title.

This year's team had only four starters back. Bonnell had a first-year sophomore on the mound, a freshman at short, a sophomore at third and a starting outfield of two sophomores and a junior.

The Panthers got off to a slow start this season but put it all together by season's end -- winning seven of eight -- to win their fifth-consecutive region title before losing to Damascus in the state semifinals.

For his ability to instill confidence and get the most out of his players, Bonnell has been chosen The Baltimore Sun's 1993 Softball Coach of the Year in Carroll County.

"It's always a challenge when you have such a young and inexperienced team, and it's also very rewarding," Bonnell said.

"The girls were willing to put in the work and adjusted very well to the varsity level. We struggled a bit early on, but they gained valuable experience from some losses and it carried us into the playoffs."

Shortly after the season, Bonnell announced he was retiring after seven years of head coaching and two more as an assistant. Over the years, he stressed defensive fundamentals with the thought that if a team could keep it close and score a few runs, it should win its share of games.

"He's a great leader to the kids who instills the will to win and do the best they possibly can," said assistant coach Tom Davidson.

"He drills the fundamentals and is one who believes if you do the little things, the big things will come."

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