Teams at a glance

March 20, 2000|By Rick Belz

Atholton Raiders

1999 record: 11-9-1 overall, 10-8 league

Coach: Kevin Kelly

Top players: Brandon Merrell, Sr., 3B; Scott Sebor, Sr., C; Bryan Adkins, Sr., P; Steve Merson, So., SS.

Outlook: The Raiders, winners of five county titles since 1989, are likely to be the youngest team in the league, with no more than a half dozen seniors and juniors combined. As sophomore-dominated team, they can expect to take their lumps this season. Offensively, they don't have a returning .400 hitter. And they have no returning starting pitcher.

Centennial Eagles

1999 record: 20-6, 14-4

Coach: Mike Lerner

Top players: Ryan Barwick, Sr., OF; Nate Ochsner, Sr., OF/P; Brian Neidig, Jr., P/OF; Brad Loveless, So., P.

Outlook: Lerner replaces Ron Martin and has had the good fortune to pick up two outstanding pitchers, neither of whom played last season for the Eagles, the county tri-champs along with Glenelg and Howard. One is Ochsner, who was 7-1 with a 1.72 ERA and was a second-team All-County pick as a freshman, but he slumped as a sophomore and did not play last season. The other is Loveless, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander who went 7-0 for Calvert Hall's JV last season and throws 81 mph. Neidig offers the Eagles a third solid arm, and completes perhaps the best pitching staff in the league. The offense is largely unproven except for Barwick, who batted .413 with nine doubles and 28 RBIs. Shortstop Greg Eller and second baseman Scott Dowell offer good defense.

Chapelgate Flames

1999 record: 9-7, 8-4

Coach: Bunk Nolan

Top players: Ryan Smith, Sr., SS/P; John Bennett, Sr., 1B/P; Dan Parlette, Jr., SS/P; Mike Adams, Jr., 2B/P.

Outlook: The Flames return five starters from a team that finished third in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference after winning the league two years ago. The team is well-balanced and expects to challenge Baltimore's Cardinal Gibbons for the title this season. Smith is a transfer from Montrose School and figures to be one of the top hitters in the league. He has speed and an accurate arm. Bennett is the team captain and a good defensive player. Parlette hits with power and has a strong arm. Adams excels at turning the double play and is a solid left-handed hitter with speed.

Glenelg Gladiators

1999 record: 21-4, 14-4

Coach: Tom Thrasher

Top players: Jason Weszka, Sr., C; Rob LaHayne, So., 1B; Chris Bowen, Jr., OF/P.

Outlook: The Gladiators, winners of back-to-back county, region and Class 1A state titles, and five county titles since 1992, return just six varsity players, so they are young and rebuilding. Offensively, they still have some big bats. Weszka batted .527 with 32 RBIs. He also stole 22 bases. LaHayne batted .400 with power -- five doubles and three home runs. Pitching is the biggest question mark. Bowen is hoping to help fill the 10-win gap left by the graduation of two-time Player of the Year Jeff Starcher.

Glenelg Country Dragons

1999 record: no team

Coach: Al Poklemba

Top players: Jim DeFerdinando, So., 3B/P; Mike Cox, So., C/INF; Greg Koffel, Fr., 1B/P; Dominic Uccellini, Fr., INF/P.

Outlook: The Dragons are a first-year team that is joining a newly formed MIAA C Conference and is filled with sophomores and freshmen. Poklemba coached the baseball team at McDonogh for 16 years and won the Maryland Scholastic Association championship in 1992. While a new field is being built, the Dragons will play at Buckshot Field in Dayton. Koffel will be the No. 1 pitcher. DeFerdinando and Cox should provide the hitting. Uccellini is a good defensive player.

Hammond Golden Bears

1999 record: 13-9, 10-8

Coach: Bob Maxey

Top players: Jason Maxey, Jr., C; Brian Brewer, Jr., 3B/P; Jason Harriman, Jr., OF/P; Pat Fields, Jr., 2B.

Outlook: The Bears graduated one senior but are still junior-dominated. They have quality hitting, deep pitching and good speed, which qualifies them as a contender, if not the favorite. "We're capable of scoring 10 runs per game," Maxey said. "If we play well, not too many people will beat us." Maxey's son Jason batted .550 with 11 home runs, eight doubles and 42 RBIs, and threw out 20 of 33 runners. Brewer batted .530 with seven doubles, six home runs and 29 RBIs. Fields batted .446 with seven doubles and three home runs. Harriman batted .405. Hammond has two hard throwers, juniors Kevin Schwartz and Jeff Miller.

Howard Lions

1999 record: 18-5, 14-4

Coach: Rich Jenkins

Top players: Tony King, Sr., OF/P; Mike Burke, Jr., OF/P; John Brown, Sr., SS; Joey Tortella, Sr., OF.

Outlook: King has signed with the University of Maryland, but the 6-4 All-County left-hander may take some time rounding into shape after recovering from an off-season back injury. He was 10-1 with a 3.50 ERA and struck out 94 batters in 62 innings last season. Burke is the No. 2 pitcher, giving Howard a strong staff. Brown batted .429 with seven doubles and 25 RBIs. The Lions graduated its starting outfield and their catcher. They hope to avoid another poor start (0-3 last season).

Long Reach Lightning

1999 record: 8-15, 6-12

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