Chesapeake goes a Long way with versatile star Player of the Year

June 10, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

As Jaime Long stood in a parking lot overlookin Chesapeake's playing field last week, coach Dennis Thiele walked by and swatted her on the back.

"You didn't want to get stung by a bee, did you?" he asked. "You saved me this year, so I just saved you."

Long saved Chesapeake-Anne Arundel in many ways this spring, hitting for average (.358), scoring runs (25), playing magnificent defense at shortstop and serving as an emergency pitcher.

Without her, the Cougars may not have become the first Class 4A school to win four state softball championships in a row.

"She does a credible job, and she does it quietly," Thiele said of Long, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 All-Metro Softball Player of the Year.

"It's a real behind-the-scenes type of job that she does."

The 5-foot-4 junior took center stage when senior ace Lori Congdon was sidelined with tonsillitis early in the year. Long went from being an everyday shortstop to the No. 1 hurler on a team expected to win another state title. Anything less would have been considered a letdown.

"The whole thing surprised me," Long said. "I was told I'd be playing shortstop, and all of a sudden I had all this ` responsibility."

She made it look easy, winning eight games and yielding just one earned run and 31 hits in 48 innings. She walked one and struck out 69.

Among her victories was a one-hitter against Patterson and a superb relief stint against North County, when Congdon left after the first inning with the Cougars losing, 3-0. Long held the Knights to one run, and Chesapeake rallied to win, 9-4.

"Everybody said I did a good job, so I guess I did," Long said.

Long also rescued the top-ranked Cougars with her glove. Her diving stop of a bouncer up the middle prevented Old Mill from scoring in a game that Chesapeake won, 3-2.

"I don't know how many times she dove in the hole and knocked the ball down and . . . made plays that other kids would have only dreamed about," Thiele said.

Usually fourth or fifth in the order, Long had four doubles, two triples, 18 RBI and two stolen bases.

Her biggest adjustment next season may come from being named one of Chesapeake's captains. Thiele says that he hopes Long will get "a little more outgoing for me," though he likes the way she goes about her business on the field.

"She's one of those quiet examples, a quiet, walking example," he said. "You don't have to run your mouth. You get out there, you get in the dirt and you do the job. And that's what she did."

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