Senior-laden Bel Air aims for return to softball playoffs

May 01, 1994|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,Contributing Writer

Last season the Bel Air softball team reached the playoffs for the first time since 1987, and now the Bobcats, specifically the seniors, have put a lot of pressure on themselves to go as far this year.

The Bobcats (9-1 overall, 3-0 league), who start six returning seniors, have every reason to believe they will get another shot at a title.

They pack a lineup that from top to bottom is very imposing -- 119 runs scored through 10 games and a .347 team batting average.

And of those total runs, 73 have come from five of the first six batters -- Danielle Rohde, Jen Conway, Amy Finlayson, Ashleigh Carter and Sherri Godbee.

All five are seniors who rank among the metro-area leaders in RBIs. Rohde and Carter have 16 RBIs, followed by Conway and Finlayson with 14 and Godbee with 13.

"We've been very focused and we're still working on game situations, which shows they are dedicated," said coach Val Cooper. "They are a very confident group and they believe in themselves and each other. I can't say enough about my seniors. They are good role models.

"What is different about this year's team is maturity and a year of experience and you can't beat experience and maturity."

Finlayson said, "We've all just pulled together. We expect a lot from ourselves and we have been expecting all this from the lineup since the first day."

A four-year starter and co-captain, Finlayson is Bel Air's workhorse on the mound with an 8-1 record that ranks her in the metro area's top five.

Over 70 innings pitched, Finlay son has given up 23 hits and struck out 98, 14 coming in Friday's 7-1 win over Fallston. And she is just as solid at the plate with a .433 average.

"She is the most dedicated, hard-working player I've ever had," said Cooper. "She's made great strides and is dominating the league. She is pitching smart along with hard."

After hitting .361 a year ago, Carter has received more attention and she admits that she is more aggressive at the plate. She already has surpassed her season total in RBIs from last season (13).

"We have really grown together and we set a lot of goals for ourselves. Our minds are always in the game and I have always felt this team has potential," said Carter, who hasn't committed an error at first base and along with Godbee at third, has solidified Bel Air's defense.

At 5-foot-3, Rohde, a co-captain and four-year starter, doesn't look much like a power hitter, yet the Bobcats' leadoff hitter has two triples to go with her metro area-leading four home runs and her .517 average leads the team.

Considered one of the best shortstops in the county, Rohde has a .937 fielding percentage, and Cooper said Rohde is the best all-around player she has ever coached.

BTC "I feel I've improved a lot since last year and that was something I hoped to do coming into this season," said Rohde. "I'm not surprised at the team's power but myself I am surprised. I've reached a lot of my goals."

The Bobcats have become quite close over the past two seasons. "We know how each other plays and we know we are capable and the girls who came up to varsity are seeing it, too," said Rohde.

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