4 Glenelg players hope for twin Maryland titles Baseball: Dominant Gladiator Dave Harris and three teammates won state soccer titles last fall. Tomorrow, they get the chance to double their pleasure.

May 22, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Not many athletes are lucky enough to play on two state championship teams in one year.

Outfielder Dave Harris is one of four Glenelg baseball players who have that chance.

"That would be a dream," said Harris, who was a dominant player on Glenelg's Class 1A state championship soccer team, just as he is on the Gladiators' state-finalist, county-champion baseball team.

Harris will get a chance to fulfill that dream at noon tomorrow at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, when the No. 4-ranked Gladiators (21-2) play Southern-Garrett (16-4) for the Class 1A state title.

They entered the state semifinals batting .384 as a team representing a school that is no stranger to state titles, having won them in 1983, 1993 and 1995.

Baseball teammates Jeremy Shry (.413), Brian Musgrove, and Jason Weszka (.431, 7 home runs, 30 RBIs) also played on the state-title soccer team.

"Hopefully, that experience has helped us with the baseball playoffs," Harris said.

He would like to expunge the memory of last season's disappointing finish, when the Gladiators missed the county title by one game and then lost to Howard in the first playoff game.

Glenelg is a young team, with Harris, Shry and second baseman Matt Kozora (.452, 10 doubles, 22 RBIs) the only starting seniors, although pitcher Dan Kurdziel (6-0) is also a senior. Their top pitcher, Jeff Starcher (7-1), is a junior.

Harris, who switched from infield to outfield this season, is batting .430 (34-for-79) with 38 RBIs, five home runs and 11 doubles. He leads the team in extra-base hits and RBIs.

"Last summer with the Columbia Reds, the coaches thought I threw more like an outfielder than an infielder, so they tried me in the outfield, and it worked out pretty good," Harris said.

Harris also received help from Reds batting instructor Paul Donovan, who changed his swing.

"It added 100 points to my average," said Harris, who batted .342 (51-for-149) with three home runs, 11 doubles and 41 RBIs for the Reds. They play in the Metro League, considered the Baltimore area's most competitive.

Glenelg coach Tom Thrasher is pleased with Harris' outfield performance. Harris has thrown out two runners at third base.

"The transition has helped him mentally," Thrasher said. "He's very competitive, has good baseball savvy, above-average speed, and the strongest arm on the team."

The 6-foot, 165-pound Harris throws 83 mph consistently, and his pitching record is 2-0 with three saves.

The 18-year-old senior right-hander, a team co-captain, has started five games -- highlighted by a one-hit win over Atholton. In late-season relief against Oakland Mills, he retired nine of 10 batters he faced, striking out seven and walking one.

But he doesn't consider himself a pitcher. He's just doing it to help the team.

"He's a consummate team player who has great athletic ability, is strong for his size, and is willing to do anything to get better," Reds coach Larry Thompson said. "He and his father have put in lots of hours working on the new batting stance. He has a rocket for an arm, and could be a really good pitcher if he wanted to be, but he wants to play outfield in college."

Harris will attend Division III Wesley College in Dover, Del., where he plans to play soccer and baseball.

He scored 12 goals for the soccer team, including the game-winning goal with 30 seconds left in the state semifinals.

"That was my greatest thrill in high school sports," he said.

Harris has several ideas about why Glenelg's baseball team has performed better this season.

"Just about everyone on our team played Metro ball last summer, and we've matured a lot. Our hitting is stronger. Our defense is better. We have a lot of heart. We don't have any attitude problems. And we've taken baseball seriously from day one."

Well, almost. When coach Thrasher was tied up with parent-teacher conferences one day, the team voted to skip practice, and Harris suggested they all go fishing.

Thrasher thinks that kind of team unity and camaraderie is characteristic of championship teams.

Pub Date: 5/22/98

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