Preseason Poll

March 24, 1995

1. Glen Burnie -- Coach Bob Broccolino lost five players to graduation, including four who started at various times last season. Otherwise, his Gophers are set, especially with Denise Warren (.459, 21 runs, 17 steals, six wins. 0.75 ERA) and Samantha Miller (7-2, four shutouts) alternating between the mound and shortstop. The defense is rock-solid, and senior Chris Napora (.382, four doubles, four triples, three home runs, 20 RBIs, .764 slugging percentage) is one of the top offensive forces in the metro area.

2. Archbishop Spalding -- Last year, the Cavaliers went 18-0, won their fifth Catholic League Tournament in six years and finished No. 1. They lost some exceptionally talented players to graduation, including the league's Player of the Year, Carrie Parsons, but All-Metro infielder Crystal Henderson (.552, 31 runs, 32 steals) and Nicki Trumpler head an impressive cast of returnees. Sophomore pitchers Crystal Ray and Kathleen O'Hara gained experience last year and combined for three no-hitters, including a perfect game from O'Hara.

3. Severna Park -- If coach Wayne Mook can find adequate replacements at third base and in the outfield, the Falcons should soar. Pitcher Christy Huber (11-5, 1.17 ERA, 153 strikeouts) and All-Metro outfielder Melissa Snyder (.396, 0 errors) are as good as they come. Severna Park is strong up the middle.

4. Chesapeake-AA -- The Cougars lost two All-Metro infielders and their starting catcher and third baseman to graduation, and one pitcher elected not to return. And still, they are dangerous. Coach Dennis Thiele said this could be one of his better hitting teams, led by seniors Michele Singer, Katie Ochs and Maggie Dziuban, and juniors Jen Fowlkes and Tami Barrington. The pitching staff is deep, as usual, with sophomore Nicole Carpenter expected to get most of the innings.

5. Centennial -- Despite going 17-4 last season, the Eagles missed the state tournament for the first time in three years. But they appear poised to move back to the top of the Class 3A East region, as well as in Howard County. Senior pitcher Kim May (17-4, 1.70 ERA, 166 strikeouts) heads a strong returning cast that includes plenty of proven offense, especially in Terri Bickerton (.510, 17 RBIs) and Marcie Kunkel (.340, 21 RBIs).

6. Atholton -- The Raiders improved from 11-10 the previous year to 17-7, and five starters return, including ace Kim Ruprecht (17-7,, 2.24 ERA, 173 strikeouts) and second-team All-Metro shortstop Chrissy Gavin (.359, 17 RBIs, 35 stolen bases). The Raiders might have a little trouble duplicating last season's .309 team batting average.

7. IND -- See capsule.

8. Arundel -- The Wildcats were 10-8 last year, and coach Paul Yannuzzi's three "mainstays" are back: pitcher Kara Kitchen, center fielder Ruth Wilson and shortstop Shannon Noon (.387, 10 RBIs). Catching could be a problem, but the rest of the infield is set. "Position-wise, we're a strong as anybody" in Anne Arundel County, Yannuzzi said.

9. North Carroll -- No team in Carroll County has more returning talent than the Panthers. Tireless pitcher Kandi Lippy (11-7, 1.49), her county's Player of the Year, is back for her senior season, along with third baseman Jen Rongione (.396, 17 runs, 10 RBIs). Also strengthening the infield are junior shortstop Christina Crouse (.320, 13 runs, 11 RBIs), senior first baseman Jill Ballard and senior catcher Teresa Mays.

10. North County -- The Knights won 11 games last year but missed the playoffs. They have a new coach, Brian Love, and two very capable pitchers in seniors Renee Rhinehart and Jamie Yewell. They also have second-team All-Metro catcher T.C. Horney (.475, eight doubles, three triples, 17 RBIs), who threw out nine of 10 runners trying to steal, and a lot of balance and versatility.

11. Old Mill -- For the past two years, the Patriots have missed the playoffs by losing their last game. They again will challenge for a berth with sophomore sensations Jen Bernard and Christina Nutile mowing down opposing hitters. Eight seniors graduated, but the Patriots are sound defensively and have speed.

12. Mount Hebron -- The surprise team of last season, the Vikings came out of nowhere to reach the Class 3A title game. Even though they lost just three seniors, the Vikings are young and five underclassmen could start for second-year coach Eric Aronowsky. Their marquee player is second-team All-Metro pitcher Jenny Joyce (15-7, 1.25 ERA, 126 strikeouts).

13. Westminster -- The Owls should improve dramatically on last year's 8-10 finish. First-year coach Scott Tobias has a veteran team that could give North Carroll a run for the Carroll County championship. He expects better things from senior pitcher Heather Gonzales, and senior catcher Laura Braun (.358) will be a tremendous help. Senior third baseman Beth Lister joins Braun in the middle of the lineup, giving the Owls a potent one-two punch.

14. Owings Mills -- See capsule.

15. Bel Air -- Last year, the Bobcats went 19-2 behind Harford County's Player of the Year, All-Metro pitcher Amy Finlayson, second-team All-Metro infielder Danielle Rohde, and Valerie Cooper, the metro Coach of the Year. Only Cooper returns from that trio, and she is left with just three starters from last spring -- senior Jen Faloni (2B) and juniors Becky Fox (SS) and Lynn Wilkinson (OF).

How the poll is chosen: The 1995 softball poll is selected each week by the local sports staff through game observations and tTC consultation with coaches.

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