1998 Baseball And Softball Previews

March 20, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham

A. Arundel softball

Annapolis Panthers

1997 record: 3-15

Coach: Gloria Day

Top players: Jessica Daywalt, Sr., OF; Jen Ferris, Sr., 3B; Sara Hutchinson, So., OF; Dawn McMaston, Jr., 1B: Sharie Neptune, Jr., 1B; Juli Smith, Jr., 2B; Mindy Alexander, So., P; Katie Stout, Jr., P.

Outlook: The Panthers bring a positive approach with hopes of earning a few more wins. Seven returning regulars and a new cast of underclassmen have been mixing in well. "They have the right attitude and confidence in each other. They're determined to improve on last year's record," Day said. Smith, Ferris and Daywalt provide speed at the top of the order with Neptune in the middle to drive them in. On the mound, Alexander and Stout are inexperienced at the varsity level, but Day said they will improve with time.

Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

1997 record: 25-1

Coach: Linda Taylor

Top players: Sabrina Ryals, Jr., SS/P; Michelle Stack, Sr., 1B; Beth Yourishin, Sr., C; Michelle Marll, Sr., 3B; Kristin Dulay, So., P; Julie Janyska, Sr., OF; Jen Batz, So., DH/1B; Julie Bahus, Jr., P.

Outlook: Who will replace graduated All-Metro pitchers Crystal Ray and Kathleen O'Hara to carry on the rich Spalding tradition that has produced season-ending No. 1 metro rankings the past four years? Answer -- Dulay, Ryals and Bahus. "Losing the likes of Ray and O'Hara is always a big loss, but every year we lose quality players and always have others to step up. I don't see this year being any different," said Taylor. Plenty of offense returns to the Catholic League champ's lineup, led by All-Metro first teamers Ryals (.440, 25 RBIs, 39 runs) and Yourishin (.393, 36 RBIs). Batz will provide plenty of power at cleanup. The defense looks solid behind the new pitching staff with Ryals the anchor at short when she's not throwing. Dulay, who saw some innings last season, will see most of the time on the mound.

Arundel Wildcats

1997 record: 17-6

Coach: Paul Yannuzzi

Top players: Breanna Kitchen, Jr., C; Soraya Grace, Jr., P; Alisha Hepfer, Sr., OF; Emily Walther, So., 3B; Ashley Hines, Jr. OF; Alexis Viera, Fr. SS; Becky Carlson, Jr., OF/1B; Beth Gearhart, Sr., 1B.

Outlook: Grace is throwing harder than ever, and Yannuzzi is expecting a breakout year from Kitchen. "Softball is all about pitching and catching, and we have a top pitcher and a top catcher. If we can hit at all, we'll be in pretty good shape," he said. Grace finished 15-5 with a 1.45 ERA, and Kitchen had a solid season both defensively and at the plate. Both earned second-team All-Metro status. Plenty of support surrounds them, and Yannuzzi has seen plenty of healthy competition throughout the lineup. In last year's Class 4A East region championship, the Wildcats had the tying run on third and the winning run on second with two outs in the seventh before losing, 7-6, to eventual state champ Calvert. "You can't ask for much better," said Yannuzzi. Sure can, Calvert has moved down to Class 3A this season.

Broadneck Bruins

1997 record: 6-11

Coach: Jim Ware

Top players: Courtney Wagner, Sr., 3B; Jamie Hughes, Jr., SS; Suzie Shuttleworth, Jr., P; Leslie Lapham, Jr., CF; Bryn Weller, So., C; Katie Henschel, So., OF.

Outlook: First-year coach Ware has plenty of experienced youth to make a push for the South Division this season and build for years to come. Only two new players join the roster. The rest, mostly underclassmen, have at least a year of varsity experience. Shuttleworth, in her third season of varsity pitching, is the starting point. "She's developed a good mix of pitches, and she's a real leader at the pitching position. We're also going to count on her to drive in some runs," said Ware. Offensively, the Bruins will use their speed and go station to station to score runs. Wagner, a four-year starter, also adds punch in the middle of the order.

Chesapeake Cougars

1997 record: 14-5

Coach: Dennis Thiele

Top players: Brooke Clyde, Sr., SS; Lauren Gontkof, Jr., LF; Michelle Cappe, Jr., CF; Meredith Pirone, Jr., 2B; Jen Browning, Jr., OF; Kareem Falcon, Jr., C; Katie Nelson, Fr., P; Erin Taylor, So. P; Kristen Bishoff, So. P; Kristen Bland, Jr., 1B.

Outlook: The Cougars have only one senior and lost six starters from last year's team that knocked off three-time defending state champ Northern-Calvert in the quarterfinals of the region playoffs. But Thiele likes his new talent and believes his young Cougars can be peaking by playoff time. He'll be counting on a veteran, Clyde, a second-team All-County selection at short last season, to lead the way both offensively and defensively. "She's one of the purest athletes I've coached at Chesapeake. She provides a lot of power. A natural hitter who makes a lot of contact. She's also smooth in the field," he said. Cappe will be at the top of the order and anchoring the outfield in center. The pitching staff has diversity, with Bishoff seeing a little time on the mound last season, Nelson a left-hander, and Taylor coming off a fine JV season.

Glen Burnie Gophers

1997 record: 14-6

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