Sound of bat meeting ball means spring is near



Can you believe it? Spring sports started yesterday with the first day of practice.

Yes, it's that time of the year again as the late Bill Veeck described so well. "That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball."

Of course, Veeck was describing a wood bat on a baseball and our high school kids use aluminum bats which creates more of a ping-type sound.

It means the return of baseball, softball for girls and lacrosse with the first play date, March 20.

Roundball dates

The regional basketball playoffs really heat up this week with quarterfinal games tomorrow and the girls region finals set for Friday, the boys Saturday.

State semifinals will be March 12-13, the finals March 14, the girls at UMBC, the boys at the University of Maryland College Park's Cole Field House.

Looking ahead

No. 19 Old Mill (14-8) is the sleeper in the Class 4A East region where six teams are capable of winning, and South River (12-10) intends to pull off "the upset of the season" tomorrow at top-ranked Dunbar in the 2A East.

County champion and fifth-ranked Meade (18-5) is the favorite in the 4A East, which was not won by an Anne Arundel County team last year for the first time since 1967. Meade may have to hurdle No. 11 Annapolis (17-6) in Thursday's semifinal to get to the regional final Saturday.

Drawing a first-round bye, Old Mill will play host to Westminster (14-8) at 7 p.m. tomorrow. If the Pats get by that one, they would meet the survivor of Glen Burnie (8-14), Arundel (6-16) and North County (4-18) at the bottom of the bracket on Thursday in a semifinal.

The Patriots split with Glen Burnie and North County and defeated Arundel in the teams' only meeting.

Old Mill has been remarkable, considering five players -- including two junior starters, one of them a captain -- quit the team in early February mainly over playing time.

The Patriots regrouped and finished the season by winning eight in a row before losing, 67-62, in overtime to Meade in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

Old Mill bounced back to defeat North County, 65-32, in its final regular-season game, clinching second place in the north division behind Meade.

Old Mill's 13th-year head coach Paul Bunting (156-136) led the Patriots out of nowhere to the region final in 1996 and nearly upset Annapolis.

The Patriots last won the region in 1992, but always seem to be a team to be reckoned with this time of year, despite internal problems. Bunting has been through defections before and always seems to land on his feet because he sets priorities and sticks to them.

After dropping a 58-56 decision to Annapolis, South River closed with three straight wins to finish with a 12-10 record.

The Seahawks have the unenviable task of playing at top-ranked Dunbar (20-3) at 6 p.m. tomorrow, but South River students were told this week on morning announcements to "come out and witness the upset of the season."

Unranked Douglass (16-7) stunned the No. 1 Poets, 78-74, in the Baltimore City championship game last Tuesday. South River played county champion Meade tough in the regular season before bowing 84-74 in overtime, so anything can happen.


One of the county's best-kept secrets, Gina Brown of Annapolis Area Christian School (AACS) is closing in on 1,000 career points.

AACS, Mount Carmel, Sts. Peter and Paul and CHEN are considering forming a Christian school league for girls basketball next season. "The MIAA doesn't take girls' teams and there is a membership freeze in the AIS [Association of Independent Schools], so we may form a league," said AACS coach Bob Topp.

Shortstop Hector Guadalupe, who recently transferred from Riverdale Baptist to Arundel, signed a letter of intent Thursday for a baseball scholarship to Middle Georgia Community College in Cockran, Ga.

Former Old Mill All-Metro pitcher Mike Ziegler had quite a debut at Shoals (Ala.) Community College this week, pitching a two-hitter with nine strikeouts for a 7-0 win over Bevil (Ala.) State and coming back three days later to post a save against Jefferson State C.C.

Jim Simms, who led Chesapeake to the 4A state title last year, was named Maryland Coach of the Year at last week's Coaches Association dinner.

Former Northeast All-Metro infielder turned pitcher, Andy Srebroski, who we told you was looking to get a pro shot, has a spring training invite for later this spring to the Cincinnati Reds' minor-league camp in Bradenton, Fla.

Srebroski is pitching coach for ex-Oriole Paul Blair at Coppin State.

Have a note for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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