Hot Raiders, hopeful Lions have 1st-round playoff date

Howard notebook

May 13, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Howard's softball team hopes to avoid a third straight year of opening-round disappointment when it plays host to county champion Atholton in a Class 2A South region playoff game at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

The 15th-ranked Lions made it to the state semifinals three years ago but lost first-round games to Glenelg and River Hill, respectively, the last two years. Now they face ninth-ranked Atholton, which went 17-1 and earned the school its second county softball title and first since 1973.

In other Class 2A South region games tomorrow, Charles County's Lackey is at Mount Hebron at 3: 45 p.m. and Prince George's County's Fairmont Heights visits Centennial at 4 p.m.

Howard lost at home to Atholton, 5-4, on March 24 but handed the Raiders their only loss, 4-3, April 22. Each team respects the other.

"They're just as good as we are," said Atholton junior shortstop Jessica McDonagh. "We beat them, and they beat us."

"On any given day, most of the teams can beat each other," said Atholton senior center fielder Erin Caffrey. "It's just a matter of putting things together, and we've been able to do that better than the other teams this year."

Atholton is led by freshman pitcher Katie Zitnay. In 117 innings, she has given up 84 hits, 14 earned runs, walked 18 and struck out 84. Her ERA is 0.84. At the plate Zitnay has a .509 average, with 29 hits (four doubles, six triples, two homers) and 19 RBIs. She has scored a team-high 26 runs.

Sophomore catcher Sarah Costa also has a .509 average, with 30 hits (eight doubles, one triple, one homer) and 19 RBIs.

Howard is led at the plate by senior catcher Stacey Swiney (.377 avg., eight doubles, two triples, three homers) and senior pitcher Kelly O'Neill (.322, two doubles, two triples, one home run). O'Neill has a 1.41 ERA, and has given up 50 hits, 31 walks, 17 earned runs and struck out 97 in 84 2/3 innings.

"It's a whole new season," said Swiney. "If we focus and play 100 percent, like I know we can, I think we can win states. But it's going to take everyone digging deep inside."

Long Reach's Kristen Schaper threw a perfect five-inning game yesterday as the Lightning defeated visiting Oakland Mills, 12-0. Schaper faced the minimum 15 batters and struck out seven, running her 18-game total to 157.

Final county softball standings -- Atholton 17-1, Wilde Lake 14-4, River Hill 13-5, Howard 12-6, Long Reach 11-7, Centennial 8-10, Mount Hebron 7-11, Glenelg 6-12, Hammond 1-17, Oakland Mills 1-17.

Tennis

The tournament cup championships begin this morning at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club. First- and second-round matches are scheduled today, with quarterfinal and semifinal matches tomorrow.

Finals in girls singles, girls doubles and mixed doubles begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Boys singles and doubles finals start at 10: 30.

Here are the top four seeds in each division:

Girls singles -- Katie Long, Mount Hebron, Lauren Bondroff, Wilde Lake, Miriluz Rubert, Wilde Lake, Kristin Manglitz, River Hill.

Boys singles -- Ari Zweig, Wilde Lake, Charles Lin, Centennial, Jesse Kieffer, Howard, Mike Mayhew, Centennial.

Girls doubles -- Kristy Stutz-Melanie Scheick, Atholton, Deepa and Divya Chandran, Mount Hebron, Jackie Taubman-Lizzie Richman, Wilde Lake, Amy Taylor-Rebecca Gaylor, Glenelg.

Boys doubles -- Zach Heidepriem-Eric Buchner, River Hill, Matt Gaylor-Craig Haughton, Glenelg, John White-Jonny Norman, Mount Hebron, Nathan Forster-Billy Martinez, Long Reach.

Mixed doubles -- Jessica Abel-Matt Lano, Centennial, Rachel Lax-David Taylor, Wilde Lake, Kathryn Jaller-Stephen DeVito, Wilde Lake, Devon Humphries-Brian Pryse, River Hill.

At the conclusion of county championships Saturday, Bob Weiss, president of the Howard County Tennis Association, will present $500 college scholarships to one senior boy and girl.

Final county standings: Wilde Lake 18-0, Centennial 16-2, Mount Hebron 13-5, River Hill 13-5, Long Reach 8-10, Glenelg 7-11, Atholton 6-12, Hammond 5-13, Howard 4-14, Oakland Mills 0-18.

Wilde Lake earned its fourth county title -- the others were in 1974, 1975 and 1985 -- and became the first team since Centenninal in 1996 to go unbeaten. The Wildecats won eight matches by shutouts.

After a 2-10 start, Long Reach ended with a six-match win streak, including consecutive 5-4 wins over Glenelg and Atholton.

Girls lacrosse

No sports team has been more dominant in Howard County than Mount Hebron. The Vikings just completed their ninth straight undefeated regular season and have had 11 unbeaten regular seasons in the 12 years the sport has been contested. Their overall regular-season record against county teams is 89-1.

The one loss came on April 25, 1990, when Centennial won, 4-2. The Eagles went on to win the county championship, the only season Mount Hebron has not. After the loss, Mount Hebron beat Glenelg, 5-4, and now has won 73 straight regular-season games against county opponents.

The top-ranked Vikings have won 11 region titles and six state titles in the last seven years.

They begin their quest for a third straight state championship at 5: 30 today, when they play host to Centennial in the opening round of the Class 1A-2A South region playoffs.

Mount Hebron, which outscored county opponents, 205-19, this season, defeated Centennial, 18-2, last week. The Eagles are coming off Tuesday's 12-11 loss to Glenelg, while Mount Hebron defeated Oakland Mils, 26-0.

Final regular-season standings (overall, league): Mount Hebron (14-0, 9-0), Glenelg (10-4, 7-2), Centennial (8-6, 7-2), River Hill (8-4, 6-3), Hammond (7-5, 6-3), Atholton (6-7, 4-5), Oakland Mills (4-8, 2-7) Wilde Lake (3-9, 2-7), Howard (3-11, 1-8), Long Reach (3-11, 1-8).

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