Lynch reclaims past glory Back on track: After a rocky four-game stretch, John Carroll's ace has returned to her usual impressive form.

April 28, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

April Lynch could not have pitched much better last year.

The Harford County Player of the Year and All-Metro first-teamer led John Carroll to an 18-2 season. The left-hander won every game against county competition and allowed just 27 earned runs in 133 innings.

Even before this season started, the senior knew topping that would be difficult. When she hit a midseason skid, she discovered that getting back on track involved more of a mental battle than a physical one.

"I really had no idea why I was struggling," said Lynch.

Her longtime catcher, Paige Boyle, said, "For a while she thought she couldn't do it anymore. She had so much to live up to, but she pushed herself through it. I think she's going to finish so strong."

With five games left, the Patriots (12-3) have not lost a county league game, and Lynch's stats are on a par with last season's.

She started the season exceptionally strong.

At the Patterson Tournament on April 6, she pitched every inning vTC of three victories. She allowed only one earned run all day in 40-degree temperatures and a stiff wind as the Patriots beat the Institute of Notre Dame, 5-1, for the championship.

With one more win, Lynch improved to 7-0. Then things started to change. The Patriots lost, 5-1, to Bel Air, then 9-1 to C. Milton Wright. They seemed back on track with a 12-5 win over Edgewood, but then dropped a 5-3 game to Havre de Grace.

Lynch was struggling. Her ERA bounced from 0.45 to 1.76.

"When she's throwing well, she gets movement on everything she throws," said coach Neal Drexel. "In these few that we've lost, it hasn't been there. I think it was just a matter of the cold weather and all the work she'd been doing. That Patterson Tournament may have caught up with her."

Drexel also said Lynch's early-season success and her selection as The Sun/Toyota/Fox 45 High School Athlete Profile of the Week may have overwhelmed her.

"She was getting a lot of attention," said Drexel, "and then she got on TV and that shook her up a little bit, because she is a shy girl. I think she started putting a little pressure on herself."

Lynch said her teammates have helped her get over that.

"I know it's a team game. It's not all me," she said. "A lot of people on the team have helped me concentrate more and not get down on myself."

The Patriots now have won three in a row, sparked by a 75-minute, 4-0 win over Fallston on April 19. Lynch allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out six. She's back to firing at about 55 mph and she's hitting the corners.

"She's always been able to throw to spots, which is definitely her strength," said Boyle. "If she throws where I call it, nobody can hit her. This week we've been really working on that, so when we get the good teams again they're not going to be able to hit her like they did before."

None of their losses count in the county standings, so the Patriots remain unbeaten in four league games. Still, they have league games remaining against Bel Air and C. Milton Wright, who combined for 21 hits against Lynch (11-3) the first time.

"They were just ready for her," said Boyle. "Last year she was one of the leaders in strikeouts and she had a no-hitter and some one-hitters, so people were ready to hit her this year. It's not that she's gotten worse. She's really improved."

Lynch's stats remain impressive. In 91 1/3 innings, she has allowed 61 hits, 24 walks and 23 earned runs while striking out 129.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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