Unbeaten Spalding softball faces tough tournament tests Cavaliers bring 6-0 record vs. 2 strong Calvert teams

April 06, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Archbishop Spalding has won 44 softball games and lost only two in more than two seasons and been the No. 1-ranked team in the Baltimore metro area the last two years.

The 6-0 Cavaliers are ranked No. 1 again this season and have three of the premier players in the state.

Senior shortstop Crystal Henderson has speed, power, a long line of awards and hit .619 last season. She already has three home runs and is hitting .500 this year.

Junior pitchers Crystal Ray and Kathleen O'Hara have combined to strike out 62 batters and walk 11 in 33 innings this season after both went 9-1 last season.

Henderson is a two-time first team All-Metro selection and starting out as a strong candidate for Player of the Year this season.

But the three Spalding standouts still have to endure some snickers from public school friends in Anne Arundel County.

"They just don't believe we're that good, because we play in the Catholic League instead of the county public school league where the top teams get to go to the state tournament," said Ray.

"When the Catholic League tourney is over, our season is over. I think the only way for us to end that skepticism is to have a chance to be invited to play in the state tournament. They ought to take the top two Catholic League teams into the states."

Spalding coach Linda Taylor believes her team will face the most important battle in the history of the school today at 1: 30 p.m. in the Calvert High tournament in Prince Frederick. The Cavaliers will be meeting two-time defending state 4A softball champion Northern of Calvert in a marquee matchup in the 10-team tourney that has each team playing two games.

It will be the first time Spalding has played Northern, which beat third-ranked Severna Park, 2-1, in the season opener March 22.

"Northern of Calvert has made their mark in the state and in our county. Last year they knocked Glen Burnie and Chesapeake out of the regionals," said Taylor. "We'll gain a lot if we beat them. We just want to get the respect we deserve from the county public schools."

Ray will pitch against Northern after O'Hara gets the call today against host Calvert in a 9 a.m. game. Calvert also has a strong team and knocked off highly regarded and seventh-ranked Arundel, 4-2, in the season opener two weeks ago.

"We'll be pumped up," said Taylor. "One of the girls [sophomore catcher Beth Yourishin] on our team is from Calvert County and her dad brings in all these articles that don't give us much credit from down there."

Yourishin has been quite a factor in Spalding's early-season unbeaten run this spring, hitting .619 with 12 RBIs, two doubles and three triples.

Henderson, who stole 38 bases last year, leads off. O'Hara, who leads the team with a .636 average and was 5-for-5 in a come-from-behind 13-9 victory over Glen Burnie, bats second.

Yourishin hits third and Ray bats fourth. Ray has been in an early-season slump but is expected to add even more punch to the lineup. Senior third baseman Zenat Marsani is off to a .533 start.

Pub Date: 4/06/96

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