Backof, Hughes will lead Owls again

March 17, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

Everything seems to be in place for the Westminster Owls to have a breakthrough season.

The Owls wrested away the county title from then three-time defending champ North Carroll last season, finishing 12-6 overall and 5-1 in the county. Still, when the region playoffs rolled around, the Owls found themselves on the outside looking in.

With a wealth of talent returning led by the county's most potent one-two offensive punch -- last year's county Player of the Year Julie Backof and fellow senior Gina Hughes -- the Owls are looking to stay atop the county and make their mark this season in postseason play.

"We're hoping to repeat in the county and will have to win some more close games to make the playoffs," said Westminster coach Kathy Hodgkins.

"Last season, we had two 3-2 losses to Frederick. They're a 4A school and that's eight points. That was the difference."

Hodgkins' lineup is set with a lot of experienced talent and it all startswith Backof in center and Hughes at short.

Backof, in her fourth year starting on varsity, put up incredible numbers last season, offensively and defensively. She hit .500 with three homers, five triples, six doubles, 20 RBI and 25 runs scored and committed only one error in center.

Hughes, who caught most of last season before an injury, hit .510 and drove in 13 runs and scored 17 more. She's going to move to shortstop this season.

"Julie's strong at bat, on the bases and in the field and all the girls look up to her as a leader," Hodgkins said.

Junior Laura Braun, who did a good job catching in Hughes' absence late last season, will handle the spot entirely this season and bat third in front of Backof and Hughes. Senior Erica Boyce, a transfer from Virginia, will be at first; junior Lauren Kadlubowski will likely lead off and play second; junior newcomer Beth Lister has a strong arm at third. Senior returnee Brooke Cavey adds depth and versatility in the infield.

The Owls will replace last year's first-team, all-county pitcher Stephanie Harrell with junior Heather Gonzales. The graduated Harrell pitched every game for the Owls last season and came up with 11 wins. Hodgkins is confident Gonzales will be able to fill the void.

"Heather worked really hard in the off-season and has looked good in practice. She has good control and decent speed and throws a couple different pitches," Hodgkins said.

Senior Kristen Stull also is back to play left. Right field is up for grabs with junior Tara Dorsey, senior returnee Gina Coco and junior Heather Mundy in the mix.

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