South River softball excels in talent show

May 24, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

When Corinne Weigand took over as softball coach at South River this year after three seasons as an assistant at Annapolis, she knew she had inherited more raw talent. But the basics still needed to be taught, and the players had to be convinced they could win.

They believe it now.

The Seahawks are the lone county representative in the state tournament, and one of the biggest surprises, as the third seed in today's 3 p.m. Class 2A semifinal matchup with second seed and No. 6-ranked Atholton of Howard County at Randazzo Park.

Talk about a smashing debut. Weigand has led the Seahawks (13-7) to their first state playoff appearance in eight years, when they lost in the finals. They also finished as runners-up in 1983 and 1984.

Last year, they lost 11 of 17 games competing as a 3A school.

"These girls had a lot of the skills they needed. We just kept going over things," she said. "I thought we had a very good chance to make the playoffs. We worked very hard together and I have a good rapport with the kids. But I don't think they realized how good they are."

Weigand's team has gotten this far with one pitcher who never seems to tire and a menacing lineup that can produce runs in bunches.

Senior center fielder Amy Perry is batting .452 with six doubles, six home runs and 37 RBIs. Sophomore catcher Tara Andrews is batting .358 with three doubles, 16 RBIs and 19 steals. Senior first baseman Amy Henshaw is hitting .364 with eight doubles, one triple, one home run and 16 RBIs. And sophomore shortstop Lauren Evans, the team's leadoff hitter, has a .515 average, four doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBIs.

Senior pitcher Mandy McLaughlin's average was above .400 for much of the season. She now is hitting .388 with two doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs.

Senior infielder Chiara Lee has knocked in 30 runs despite missing part of the season.

"I have a lot of girls who can rack the ball when the get hold of it," Weigand said.

With eight seniors and one junior, South River entered the season as one of the most experienced teams in the county. But when senior Lindsay Pell elected not to come out, Weigand was down to one pitcher.

"Hopefully, I won't run into too much trouble only having one pitcher," she said before the season. "That's always been my fear."

No need to worry. Though she has thrown 138 innings and been involved in every decision, McLaughlin's velocity hasn't suffered. She has 111 strikeouts and owns two no-hitters, including a 14-1 victory over Dunbar in the East Region semifinals. The Poets never caught up to her fastball, and their run scored on a passed ball.

McLaughlin's 13th win came in the region final, a 7-6 decision over Parkside. She gave up three runs in the seventh inning, but got the last out on a fly ball with runners on first and second.

"She's gone the mileage with me. She's done what she had to do and I'm very pleased with her. I don't know what I would have done without her," Weigand said.

"I think she's still strong. Baseball has those rules about how many games you can pitch and all that. Fortunately, we don't have that in softball."

McLaughlin has struggled some with her control of late, but Weigand said, "I think a lot of it is just nerves and the pressure of knowing she's got to do it. There's nobody else I can put in there. I can go out there and talk to her and give her a break for a few minutes, but all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, 'Keep pitching.'"

The Seahawks shouldn't be overwhelmed by the pressure of competing in the states. They were faced with must-win situations in the last two games of the regular season and defeated Broadneck, 8-0, and Gwynn Park, 26-7. Then came two region playoffs victories that set up a stern test from Atholton (16-6) and, perhaps, top-seeded Damascus, which lost to North East in last year's state final.

"My parents said, 'Forty-two more outs,' " Weigand said. "I want this, I want it really bad."

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