Lawson finds control the key to success Cooper gets most out of Bobcats Player, Coach of the Year 1993 ALL-HARFORD COUNTY SOFTBALL TEAM

June 07, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Bonnie Lawson made her pitch for John Carroll's softball team and watched the Patriots steadily climb in the rankings this season.

The Baltimore Sun's Harford County Softball Player of the Year, Lawson has the speed to rank among the Metro area's fastest hurlers, but it was her control that was better than ever this year. The senior left-hander posted an 11-2 record with a 0.92 ERA and allowed just 21 hits in 78 innings. She struck out 144 while cutting her walks to 50 from 88 last year.

Lawson helped boost the Patriots from a No. 8 ranking ipreseason to No. 2 in The Baltimore Sun poll, their highest ranking ever.

But the game that made everyone take notice was actually a loss -- 1-0 to then-No. 2 Spalding on April 19. Lawson allowed just three hits, and had two of the Patriots' three hits.

After that loss, Lawson came back with consecutive no-hitters against Havre de Grace and Fallston. She also had a no-hitter going against Joppatowne, but coach Neal Drexel pulled her early in a lopsided game.

Lawson, who has pitched five no-hitters in two seasons, always has had speed and pretty good control, but this season her confidence improved and that helped her throw more strikes. Some of that added confidence came from the defensive support she received from her teammates.

"What Bonnie's doing this year a little bit different," said Drexel, "is if she gets behind in the count, she can get the ball in and say, 'Come on and hit it -- I've got the fielders behind me.' "

Her one rough outing came at Bel Air. In a 3-2 loss, Lawson threw a one-hitter, but walked 10. Lawson did not pitch against Edgewood, the Patriots' only other Harford County loss.

After participating in the ASA's Junior Olympic program, Lawson was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Maryland State Amateur Softball Association Scholarship Committee. However, she is still undecided on which college to attend.

The Patriots were such an overwhelming favorite to repeat as county champs, few would have given Bel Air a chance. But Coach of the Year Valerie Cooper told her Bobcats she thought they could win it all.

"In any sport, I don't care whether it's softball or whatever, so much of it is mental confidence,and if you don't think you can do it, you can't. The thing about this group was they became confident with each other. When we got down, everyone pulled together," said Cooper, a Bel Air graduate who played on one of the Bobcats' three state champion softball teams.

Cooper turned the Bobcats from an 8-9 team to 14-4 and Harford County co-champs. They defeated John Carroll and Edgewood, which ended up tying the Bobcats for the county title. In their Class 3A region, the Bobcats advanced to the final but fell to Dundalk, 8-0.

It was Cooper's best record in seven years as Bobcats head coach -- and she did it with just three returning starters and two starting seniors.

Although junior Amy Finlayson led the way with solid pitching, the Bobcats' strength was defense.

"I don't want to take anything away from Amy," said Cooper, "but this team really had tremendous chemistry. When you get a group of kids like that playing together and you have a lot of extra-inning games and a lot of two-run margins, it shows me the

kids were willing to tough it out."

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