Teams at a glance

March 20, 2000|By Edward Lee

Carroll Christian Patriots

1999 record: 5-7

Coach: Matt Brethauer

Top players: Rusty Evans, Sr., P/1B; Nate Sylvester, Sr., C; Corey Green, Jr., IF/P; Paul Holdefer, Sr., CF/P; Stephen Evans, Fr., IF/P.

Outlook: It's been three years since the Patriots won the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference championship, but Brethauer is hopeful that this season's squad can help change that. If Carroll Christian is looking to improve on last year's 3-5 conference record, it will depend heavily on the bats of Evans, Sylvester, and Green. Evans hit .420 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. Sylvester batted .488 with three homers and 14 RBIs, while Green hit .385 with 12 RBIs and a team-leading eight doubles. With only five seniors, Brethauer is leaning on five freshmen, including Evans, starting third baseman Brock Davis, and utility fielder Ben Stringham. But the Patriots will only as far as their defense takes them. Last season, they had the lead going into the final inning of five games and lost all five.

Francis Scott Key Eagles

1999 record: 2-18

Coach: Jamie Hitchner

Top players: Eric Gunther, Sr., DH/P; Phil Lawrence, Sr., SS/P; Greg Frech, Sr., P/C; Brendan MacDaniel, Jr., CF/SS; Justin MacDaniel, Jr., C/OF.

Outlook: Last season's disappointing record is a thing of the past as the Eagles aim for the 10-win mark this year. Gunther, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound transfer from Dundalk High School in Baltimore, led the team with a .380 batting average and is expected to provide much of the firepower. Lawrence endured a crack in a growth plate near his elbow to win tournament MVP honors at the Francis Scott Key Tournament last year. Hitchner may have found a leadoff hitter in senior second baseman Lester Dietz. Frech and the MacDaniel twins are one-third of the nine returning players from last season. Hitchner's primary concern is defense, which allowed opposing teams an on-base percentage that was way too high for the second-year coach's liking.

Liberty Lions

1999 record: 11-11

Coach: Erik Barnes

Top players: Perry Sartain, Sr., OF/P; John Bruce, So., CF; Rick Hogg, Sr., 1B/P; Kevin Magaw, Jr., SS; Matt Cavey, Sr., 2B.

Outlook: Only two years removed from the Lions' Class 3A state championship, Barnes is enthusiastic about this year's crop of players. Leading the way offensively is the trio of Sartain, Bruce and Hogg. Hogg, a first-team All-County selection, batted .423 with an on-base percentage above .500. Sartain went .362 and led the team with 22 RBIs. Bruce played only eight games, but hit five home runs, which was third in the county. Magaw drew a school-record 22 walks, and he and Cavey combined to commit just 12 errors up the middle. One question mark may be pitching, where Barnes won't have All-County first-team pick Wes Peters.

North Carroll Panthers

1999 record: 9-12

Coach: Denny Snyder

Top players: Mark Campbell, Sr., SS/P; Nate Miller, Sr., P; Rusty LaMotte, Sr., LF; Jeff Yingling, Jr., 2B; Shawn Hampt, Jr., P.

Outlook: The youth movement is alive and well at North Carroll, where 12 juniors and only four seniors make up the Panthers squad. Campbell returns after an All-County season that included a .410 batting average, 18 RBIs, and 11 extra-base hits. LaMotte posted 13 RBIs, and Yingling finished with a .306 batting average. Miller, an All-County honorable mention selection who went 3-5 and struck out 35 batters, is the ace. Snyder will attempt to develop Hampt and junior pitcher Chris Painter, both of whom started on the JV squad last year. Snyder hopes to get some early wins to boost team confidence, but he wants to avoid repeating an 8-2 start followed by a 1-10 stretch last season.

South Carroll Cavaliers

1999 record: 21-4

Coach: George Richardson

Top players: Gary Harrison, Sr., C; Chris Vasse, Sr., 2B; Ron Abigill, Sr., 1B/3B; Eric Laverick, Sr., 3B/OF.

Outlook: If the Cavaliers feel pressure to capture another Class 3A state championship, they're not showing it. Richardson's team set the bar last season by developing a squad with outstanding pitching and solid hitting. The hitting is still there in Harrison, an All-County first-team pick who hit .377 with four doubles, three triples and three home runs, and Laverick, another first-team All-County choice who played four positions while batting .403 with 17 RBIs. As the designated hitter last season, Vasse earned All-County honorable-mention honors despite playing with a tear in his right shoulder. Abigill also was an All-county Honorable-mention player. With five pitchers from the JV level, Richardson hopes that Harrison's experience will help.

Westminster Owls

1999 record: 12-8

Coach: Jim Rodriguez

Top players: Jason Jarrett, Sr., P/OF; Rafe Bridges, Jr., P/3B; Jeff Patrick, Sr., C; Mike McFeeley, Sr., 1B; Jesse Alvarez, Jr., SS.

Outlook: Veteran leadership is the theme for the Owls, who return eight players -- all seniors -- from last season's team. Bridges, an All-County honorable-mention selection, batted .375 and will be complemented by Jarrett, Patrick and McFeeley, all of whom gained valuable varsity experience last year. Alvarez is a young player who may emerge as one of the best infielders in the county by season's end. Perhaps the person with the newest role on the team is Rodriguez, who was a co-head coach last year with Scott Tobias, who has decided to focus on coaching the football team. With a lot of confidence in Jarrett and Bridges on the mound, Rodriguez said he will concentrate on improving the team's hitting.

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