Co-Players of Year
Matt Deuchler, Centennial, senior, catcher: The 5-foot-10, 185-pound catcher led his Class 2A state finalist Eagles, who produced their winningest season with a 20-6 record, in every offensive category except for batting average. He hit .456 (41-for-90) with 10 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 39 RBIs. He scored 36 runs and stole 15 bases. Three times, he had five RBIs in a game, including the regional championship game. In the playoffs against Surrattsville, he hit two home runs. He had two RBI singles in the state championship game. And he had one four-hit game. Deuchler has 6.9 speed in the 60-yard dash and throws to second base in 1.8 seconds. His unusually strong arm allowed him to pick six opponents off base and throw out five of eight runners who tried to steal on him. Deuchler has been chosen for Team Maryland and the Crown All-Star Game. Also an All-County football running back, he has an 85 percent baseball scholarship to James Madison University.
Jeff Starcher, Glenelg, senior, pitcher: He repeats as Howard County Player of the Year after leading his team to its second straight Class 1A state championship and a 21-4 record. His 48 hits this season broke the state public school record of 47. He batted .558 (48-for-86) with eight home runs, three triples and six doubles. He had 33 RBIs and scored 40 runs. During the five-game playoffs, he went 12-for-17 with three home runs and had at least two hits in each game. He also was the winning pitcher in three of those playoff games and ended up with a 10-2 record and 2.95 ERA. He struck out 88 batters in 66 1/3 innings. His career pitching record was 22-4. He was the winning pitcher with complete-game efforts in both state championship games. In the final regular-season game, he pitched Glenelg to a 9-3 victory over Centennial, forcing a three-way tie with Centennial and Howard for the county championship. Defensively, as a middle infielder, he handled 39 chances without an error. "He's the best all-around player I ever coached," Glenelg coach Tom Thrasher said. "He can throw, run, hit and catch, and he's a gamer." Starcher most likely will attend Western Maryland College.
Coach of the Year
Ron Martin, Centennial: His team posted the most wins in school history with a 20-6 record, won its third county title, fourth regional title and made its third appearance in the state championship game since he began coaching it nine years ago. His career record is 126-63. Centennial has had just one losing season during that time. This year's team was one of his best offensively, scoring 269 runs and averaging 10 runs per game as it battled Howard and Glenelg for a three-way share of the county title. He was blessed with two rubber-armed pitchers and an outstanding catcher on a senior-dominated team that lost to Walkersville in the state Class 2A finals, 9-5.
The first team
Steve Fredrick, Centennial, senior, pitcher: He pitched nine complete games in 14 starts while compiling a 10-4 record. He struck out 101 batters in 84 innings and walked 28, allowing 81 hits. Fredrick also batted .429 (33-for-77) with seven doubles, two triples and one home run. A second-team All-County pick last season, he had 25 RBIs and scored 21 runs.
Tony King, Howard, junior, pitcher: When Howard's No. 1 pitcher, Dave Curry, went down with a serious knee injury, King stepped up to post a 10-1 record with a 3.50 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 62 innings. He pitched shutouts against Mount Hebron, Glenelg and Atholton.
Matt Thrasher, Glenelg, senior, first baseman: His 31 RBIs were two shy of the team leadership. He batted .410 with two home runs, three doubles and one triple. He scored 23 runs. In a holiday tournament against C. Milton Wright, he went 4-for-4. He also hit two home runs in the league-opening game against Hammond.
Chris Tiedemann, Centennial, senior, second baseman: He batted .440 (40-for-91) with nine doubles, one triple and one home run, knocking in 25 runs and scoring 27 times. He pitched nine complete games in 11 starts and compiled a 9-2 record with a 2.88 ERA. He struck out 54 and walked nine in 68 innings.
Mike Martin, Centennial, senior, shortstop: A slick fielder, Martin batted .474 (45-for-95), missing the state record for hits by three. He had nine doubles and four triples and drove in 28 runs, scoring 35 times. Martin had one four-hit game. He's a repeat first-team selection and will attend Salisbury State.
Mike Burke, Howard, sophomore, third baseman: He finished second in the county with 44 hits, surpassing the old county record of 40, was second in the county with 11 doubles and knocked in 40 runs -- three shy of the county record. He batted .579 (44-76), second in the county. He also hit three triples, one home run and scored 28 times.