1999 All-Anne Arundel softball teams


Player of the Year

Amanda Shifflett, Northeast, senior, infielder: The No. 1-ranked Eagles (24-2) were chasing after their ninth state title, against North Carroll, when Shifflett came to the plate with a runner on and two out in the first inning. She ripped a triple to right-center and eventually came across to help give the Eagles a 2-0 lead that would turn into a 9-0 win. That was the story all season long for Shifflett, who added patience at the plate and the ability to go to all fields. The Eagles shortstop smashed the ball everywhere. She hit .573 for the season -- .282 points higher than last spring -- drove in 38 runs and scored 38 more with a state-record nine triples. In a 2-1 win over Severna Park in the county championship game, she supplied all the offense needed with a two-run homer down the third-base line in the first. She singled later in the game for her 100th career hit. "The one goal she said she had going into the season was being more relaxed at the plate. She always got us going and everyone knew they could always count on Amanda," said Northeast coach Marianne Shultz. Consistency was a Shifflett trademark this spring. Headed for Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh this fall, she had 20 multiple-hit games, reached safely in 24 of 26 games and also played solid defense at shortstop.

Coach of the Year

Jeff Shepherd, Severna Park: When Shepherd went from assistant to head coach, replacing former coach Duane McAlister three games into the season, he emphasized two words: focus and emotion. The No. 3-ranked Falcons responded, getting through fellow county powers Arundel, Chesapeake and North County to win the Class 4A, East Region and advancing to the state championship game, where they suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Gaithersburg. The Falcons finished the season with a 21-5 mark -- 19-4 under Shepherd, who enjoyed the successful run keeping things simple and fun. "We asked for focus before every pitch defensively, understanding where the play had to go. And number two was emotion. That helped carry us. Everyone on the bench was loud, into the game as much as the ones who were playing. Eventually, everyone fell into their roles," said Shepherd. The Falcons followed their region championship with a 5-0 win over Bowie in the state semifinal, but were unable to come up with the timely hit in the setback to Gaithersburg in the final. "We look at what we did as a success," said Shepherd. "Anne Arundel County is the class of the state and with the draw we had, to come out and win the region is as big as it gets. Seeing how the girls responded in that stretch boosted my confidence and makes me look forward to next year."

The first team

Deana Benner, Northeast, senior, pitcher: In big game after big game, Benner was given the ball and came through. First it was a five-hitter against Severna Park in a 2-1 win for the county championship. Next came perennial state power Northern-Calvert in the region final, where she produced a three-hit gem in a 2-0 win. Closing out the season was another three-hitter in a 9-0 win over North Carroll for the program's ninth state title. With command of five different pitches, she went 7-1 with a 0.31 ERA. She also hit .366 with 10 runs scored.

Amanda Donaldson, Severna Park, senior, pitcher: Selected to the All-County's first team all four of her years and twice an All-Metro selection, Donaldson's excellence on the mound will leave a lasting impression with the Severna Park program. This spring, she went 15-4 with a 0.89 ERA. In 132 innings, she recorded 145 strikeouts with just 16 walks. Her senior poise played big in one-run wins over Chesapeake and North County in the region playoffs. At the plate, Donaldson made a smooth adjustment to the top of the order, hitting .373 with 14 runs and nine RBIs.

Stacy Smith, Northeast, senior, pitcher: The hard-throwing Smith closed out a stellar four-year career with an 8-1 record, 0.23 ERA and a second state championship. Missing the early part of the season recovering from mononucleosis, Smith came back with the same All-Metro form she had as a junior, not allowing an earned run until the last regular-season game -- a 7-2 win over Glen Burnie to improve her record to 6-1. She came through with a memorable two-hit performance in a 2-1 win over Thomas Stone to reach the state championship game.

Breanna Kitchen, Arundel, senior, catcher: A four-year starter for the Wildcats, Kitchen provided a good understanding of the game, a strong arm and rarely let any pitches from Soraya Grace get by her. The county's finest defensive catcher, she threw out 14 runners, most of whom were caught off first with the majority electing not to run against her. Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi also trusted Kitchen with the chore of calling the game. Kitchen hit .312 with 16 RBIs and nine runs scored.

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