1996 All-Anne Arundel County softball team

June 05, 1996|By BILL FREE

Player of the Year

Crystal Henderson, Spalding, shortstop, senior: This naturally gifted player loves the game, will work as hard as anybody on the field and led the Cavaliers to the No. 1 ranking (24-2) in the Baltimore metro area for a third straight season. Henderson ended a spectacular four-year career with a super senior season, hitting .627 with 34 RBIs, seven home runs, seven doubles, five triples and 20 stolen bases as a leadoff hitter. There were two memorable home runs for Henderson this season, the first one a grand slam in a 10-1 victory over Northeast and the second a 200-foot shot over the fence against Conwell (Pa.) Egan in a 5-2 win in the prestigious Chambersburg tournament. The grand slam against Northeast enabled Henderson to hit for the cycle for the first time in her career. A complete player who is fundamentally sound in all phases of the game and is a gold-glove-type fielder, the University of North Carolina-bound shortstop almost always put opponents in a hole in the first inning by leading off with a bunt single, stealing second and moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by second hitter Kathleen O'Hara.

Coach of the Year

Marianne Shultz, Northeast: In almost every way, it was a perfect season for Shultz and the Eagles after going 10-8 last season. She guided this young team to an 18-7 record, the No. 3 ranking in the Baltimore metro area and appeared to be in great position to win the state Class 2A championship over Walkersville. Shana McKinney bounced what was thought to be a two-run game-tying single to left in the last of the seventh inning with hot-hitting Rene Mrowczynski coming to the plate. But the first-base umpire called McKinney out for missing first base, ending the game and a pulsating title run for Northeast which started five freshman and had a sixth as a top reserve. Shultz brought her young players along slowly at the start of the season, putting no pressure on them and low-keying their achievements even when they won eight in a row after a 3-3 start. But once the Eagles started knocking off 4A powers such as Arundel and Glen Burnie, there was no more shielding the youngsters from the spotlight and they all responded well. Shultz believes her players were forced to grow up in a hurry with all the tightly played games throughout the regular season and were more than ready for the pressure when tournament time arrived.

The first team

Tami Barrington, Chesapeake, outfield, senior: nior: A leadoff hitter with exceptional speed, Barrington often put the Cougars' offense in motion by getting on base any way she could for a .523 on-base percentage. She hit .387 this season, scored 10 runs and stole four bases to help Chesapeake finish 13-6 and gain the No. 5 ranking in the final Baltimore metro area poll. In a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over second-ranked Glen Burnie early in the season, Barrington made an outstanding catch in the gap from her center-field position to help Chesapeake turn back the Gophers. She also went 3-for-4 in that win and moves up to the first-team All-Anne Arundel County after making the second team last season.

Jen Bernard, Old Mill, pitcher, junior: One can only wonder how far the Patriots would have gone this season if Bernard had just an average offensive team behind her. She racked up some imposing stats on the mound for seventh-ranked Old Mill (12-9) which gave powerful Northern of Calvert a scare in the 4A East Region semifinals before losing, 3-0. Bernard came the closest to preventing Northern from winning a third straight state 4A championship when she shut the Calvert County team out for five innings before allowing one earned run and two unearned runs in the sixth inning. Bernard tossed a three-hitter in that tough loss and wound up the season with an 11-9 record, an earned-run average of 1.18, 169 strikeouts and 21 walks in 137 innings. Opposing teams hit .178 off Bernard, who pitched Old Mill to a 9-3 victory over state 3A champion McDonough in the Calvert High Easter tournament.

Kristin Briggs, Northeast, infield, senior: From the moment she stepped in the on-deck circle to hit to the time she walked off the field after the final out of the game, Briggs was a special player. She always seemed to be in the right place at the right time from her shortstop position and while running the bases. It was obvious this senior had a strong love for the game and a vast knowledge of the fundamentals. Add all that to an ability to hit .390 and steal 18 bases for third-ranked Northeast (18-7), it is no surprise that Briggs was able to lead the young Eagles to the state Class 2A championship game, where they lost a 4-2 heart-breaker to Walkersville. Briggs conducted pre-game visualization meetings to prepare her teammates (six freshmen) for game situations.

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