Harford County

Baseball

March 20, 2000|By Mark Hoeflich

Harford County

Aberdeen Eagles (7-3)

Coach: Jim Mortus

Outlook: The Eagles have made a habit of being one of the leagues more pesky teams over the last two years. With two left-handed pitchers and three left-handed hitters, things aren't likely to change. Mortus hopes the Eagles can be sharper defensively.

Bel Air Bobcats (17-3)

Coach: Mike Enniss

Outlook: This could one of the more challenging of Enniss' 16 years as coach. The Bobcats are thin on pitching and the lineup was hurt by the loss of seven starters. At least Enniss has a strong infield with catcher Evan Jones, second baseman Brian Lipski and shortstop Shane Justis.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs (15-9)

Coach: Joe Oswald

Outlook: The Mustangs' second consecutive Class 3A North region title and state semifinal appearance last season came with a price -- seven seniors have graduated, including five starters. This squad won't pack the same power at the plate and at times seven underclassmen could start. First-year coach Oswald has a number of capable pitchers but no stopper. Jesse Schoendist is a highly talented shortstop.

Edgewood Rams (7-11)

Coach: David Robinson

Outlook: The Rams return three pitchers in Charles Merryweather, Brandon Wolfe and Joe Gonzales, and that group is boosted by the addition of sophomore Keith Zimmerman, who had 100 strikeouts last season on the JV. Robinson hopes the Rams can assert themselves at the plate, as Edgewood had seven losses by two runs or less last season.

Fallston Cougars (17-3)

Coach: Robert Limpert

Outlook: In Phillip Akens (2-2, 20 strikeouts in 17 innings) and Justin Collins (4-1, 3.43 ERA), the Cougars boast two of the top pitchers in the league. And the lineup is just as promising, as shortstop Steve Little, catcher Bryan Owens and left fielder Matt Toomey, each batted over .400 last season and combined for more than 60 RBIs. The Cougars shared the county title with Bel Air last season.

Harford Christian Eagles (no team)

Coach: Dave Klinger

Outlook: The Eagles failed to field a team for the first time in more than 20 years last season, so first-year coach Klinger looks to bring better organization and renewed interest to the program. The Eagles have a solid battery in pitcher Mike Funk and catcher Jason O'Grady.

Harford Tech Cobras (7-14)

Coach: Joe Foltz

Outlook: The Cobras recorded their most wins in more than five years last season, and Foltz was encouraged by a turnout of close to 50 players this season. Steve Smith is the lone returning senior starter, and along with junior Matt Yeagle, assumes a larger pitching role. The two combined for only 7.1 innings last season.

Havre de Grace Warriors (5-13)

Coach: Doug Heeter

Outlook: Heeter anticipates continued improvement with sound infield defense and one of the league's top hitters in junior Josh Slagle (.435, 17 RBIs). His older brother, Brian, is the top run-producer (19 RBIs last season) and the Warriors' ace. An inexperienced bench could be a factor.

John Carroll Patriots (8-11)

Coach: George Cooper

Outlook: With eight returners, including a superb pitcher in senior Jordan Stubblefield, the Patriots expect to make a move in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Stubblefield, a heady right-hander, throws in the mid-80s and uses four pitches. Cooper likes his versatile offense. Four of the Patriots' nine league losses last season were by a run. "I think we're real close," Cooper said. "It's not unreasonable for us to get to the playoffs."

Joppatowne Mariners (9-11)

Coach: Tony Blackburn

Outlook: The Mariners look forward to their first .500 season in four years. Blackburn only replaces three positions and sophomore John Jaimes and senior Matt Heckrotte steady the pitching staff. Blackburn is hoping for a better start than previous seasons.

North Harford Hawks (16-9)

Coach: Tim Larrimore.

Outlook: Last season, the Hawks captured the first Class 2A North region title in school history and Larrimore doesn't expect a letdown with the move to 2A East. One reason is left-handed pitcher Scott Phillips (2.09 ERA, 94 strikeouts in 58 innings), who committed to play at Tallahassee Junior College next spring. Larrimore also has a number of capable arms behind Phillips and a lineup that is strong through the first six spots in the order. The defense won't give away much, either.

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