South Carroll coach George Richardson has a problem heading into the 1999 baseball season. It's one that most other area coaches can only dream about.
Too much pitching.
Forget the old adage that you can never have enough of it. At the Winfield school, as well as at those throughout the county this year, quality hurlers abound.
"I think everybody has got at least one quality pitcher," said Richardson. "It's just a thick class of pitchers this year."
With four pitchers likely to play college ball next season, and possibly a fifth, the Cavaliers could boast the top mound staff of any state public school.
Senior Jason Tourangeau is considered one of the premier hurlers in the metro area. The right-hander throws a legitimate 89 mph fastball, and last season went 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA, striking out 48 in 36 2/3 innings. He has signed to play at East Carolina next season.
Senior Kevin Damiano, a left-hander clocked at 87 mph, is expected to be a closer when he plays for Penn State next year. He was 3-1 last season with a 2.38 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.
Another senior, Brandon Woodward, had even more impressive numbers last season, going 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA, allowing 16 hits and striking out 36 in 26 1/3 innings while throwing in the mid-80s. Though heavily recruited of late, the right-hander remains undecided about his college plans.
All that pitching talent left little room for right-hander Jason Shipley, who has signed to play for Salisbury State despite throwing just 7 2/3 innings last season. And right-hander Kyle Wilson, who got one start last year and allowed three earned runs in nine innings, is being recruited by several junior colleges.
That's five top senior pitchers, all on the same staff.
"I told Wilson the other day, `It's just bad luck that you live here and go to this school with all these other kids the same age,' " said Richardson. "It's the best pitching class I've ever had -- by far. I was assistant coach at Frederick Community College for four years, and this is a better pitching staff then we ever had there.
"It's just amazing how a group comes together like this, but I guess things run in cycles."
Richardson said it will be a challenge to get each enough innings to keep them sharp. Other county coaches, however, say it's a problem they'd love to have.
"You can't stress enough the importance of pitching in this league," said North Carroll coach Denny Snyder. "South Carroll will be in every single game with their pitching."
But South Carroll, by no means, is the county's only home of pitching talent.
This season, just about every team is holding at least one ace in its hand.
Liberty returns a pair of top right-handers in seniors Wes Peters and Brian Bandy. Westminster has right-hander Mike Taylor, who throws in the mid-to-upper 80s, and could have another if and when senior Nick Farver is cleared to play. At Francis Scott Key, senior James Witte is a strong right-hander and Greg Frech was honorable mention all-county as a sophomore.
At North Carroll, right-hander Rick Lamm, who handed South Carroll one of its few county losses a year ago, will lead the Panthers as a returning senior.
Said Snyder: "Pitching is the key, and right now I feel pretty good about that."
With the abundance of pitching talent in Carroll County, this season is likely to see its share of quickly played, low-scoring games. The teams that come out on top are likely to be the ones with the ability to create runs.
They'll also need one more thing.
"You need a little luck," said Richardson. "It's all about who you're going to face that day."
Pos. School, '98 record
1. Arundel, 22-4
2. Mount St. Joe, 19-13
3. Severna Park, 19-3
4. South Carroll, 13-7
5. Calvert Hall 25-5
6. Curley, 15-10
7. Chesapeake, 11-8
8. Fallston, 9-9
9. Centennial, 16-8
10. McDonogh, 15-9
11. Glenelg, 22-2
12. C.M. Wright, 16-6
13. Westminster, 14-6
14. Atholton, 18-7
15. Old Mill, 11-9
16. Dulaney, 11-6
17. Lansdowne, 15-6
18. Mt. Hebron, 8-12
19. Patterson, 21-3
20. Broadneck, 9-11
Nominate athletes The Baltimore Sun accepts nominations from coaches only for its Athletes of the Week from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays at 410-332-6200 or 1-800-829-8000, Ext. 6200.
Two athletes (one boy and one girl) will be selected each week and featured in Wednesday's editions. Athletes nominated must be available the next Monday to have their pictures taken. Only coaches can nominate Athletes of the Week.
Pub Date: 3/17/99