Local Sports: Softball Preview

March 20, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham

Teams at a glance

Carroll Christian Patriots:

1995 record: 4-2.

Coach: Judy Mied.

Top players: Rachel Holdefer, Sr., P/IF; Kellie Kirk, Sr., C; Charla Miller, Sr., OF; Kelly DeWitt, So., P/1B; Rebecca Mied, So., P/OF.

Outlook: returning and also some talented newcomers this season. How fast they all come together will be the key to their success. Coach Mied said pitching could be an adventure early in the season because of the inexperience of her daughter, Rebecca, and DeWitt at the position. Mied said they both throw with good velocity and have a number of pitches, but have had some problems getting the ball over the plate consistently. Holdefer, who doesn't throw windmill style, is a senior thrower with experience. Offensively, Mied said there's plenty of singles hitters in the lineup. "We depend on aggressive running of the bases and we're working on bunting. There's a lot of speed on the team," she said. DeWitt and eighth-grader Casey Henry, who will play short, will provide a lot of the offensive punch. The defense is strong up the middle with Kirk, a team leader, behind the plate. Holdefer will see time at second or third and Henry is already sound fundamentally at short. Miller anchors the outfield in center.

Francis Scott Key Eagles

1995 record: 7-11.

Coach: Joe Linthicum.

Top players: Ericka Rutzebeck, Sr., P; Amy Brooks; Sr., 2B; Pam Lochner, Sr., 3B; Becky Knox, Sr., OF; Tricia Black, Sr., 1B; Sindi Stem, Fr., SS.

Outlook: Most of the problems last year came on offense so Linthicum has his Eagles working on being more aggressive at the plate. There's speed at the top of the order with Lochner and Stem. Getting them on base is a key and the Eagles also will need to come up with clutch hits to drive them in. Linthicum said the Eagles stranded too many runners in scoring position last season. Linthicum is relying heavily on Rutzebeck to carry most of the pitching load and also to drive in runs from the cleanup spot in the batting order. "I'm putting all my eggs in one basket with Ericka, she's my thoroughbred on the mound," Linthicum said. "We're asking her to take charge this season, and I think she can do it." The infield is solid with experience on the right side in Brooks and Black. Lochner will move over to third after playing last season at shortstop, where Stem will be this year. Sophomore Erin Carter is behind the plate. Knox has experience in the outfield and junior Kerri Allen is up from the "B" squad and should provide some punch in the middle of the lineup.

Liberty Lions

1995 record: 8-10.

Coach: Nora Murray.

Top players: Liz Armstrong, Jr., 1B; Kim Robinson, Sr., C; Brigit Becker, Jr., SS; Candice Young, Jr., OF; Tara Prozialek, Jr., OF; Stacy Smith, Jr., OF; Amber Back, So., P/1B; Adriane Winthrow, Jr., P.

Outlook: After winning just once in 1994, the Lions made great strides under first-year coach Murray last season, coming away just short of the .500 mark and earning a share of the county title with an upset win over North Carroll. Murray is expecting more progress this year with a team that is still young. After Robinson, the lineup is filled with underclassmen who have varsity experience. "We got a little taste of winning so hopefully we can build on that," Murray said. "All of them are a little more relaxed having a year under their belt." The Lions are hoping to generate a little more offense this season. Last year, Becker had the highest batting average at .354, but there was a drop off after her. She'll hit second in the order behind leadoff hitter Young, who's speed is needed on the bases. Armstrong, who hit .292 last season, is likely to bat fourth and will be one of the keys in the middle of the lineup. Charlene Rice, a first-team all-county pitcher as a junior last season, didn't return to the team this season. The Lions will look to Back, a transfer from California who will also see time at first, and Winthrow, who spent the past two seasons on the "B" squad. There were times last season when the Lions defense was outstanding and times when it was not. Murray is looking for more consistency this season.

North Carroll Panthers

1995 record: 15-6.

Coach: Rich Harvey.

Top players: Kathleen Tunney, Sr., 2B; Becky Bosley, Jr., C; Christina Crouse, Sr., SS; Jocelyn Bredebburg, Sr., OF; Delynn Powelson, Jr., P; Holly Carswell, Jr., P.

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