2000 All-Anne Arundel County softball teams

June 02, 2000|By PAT O'MALLEY AND GLENN P. GRAHAM

Player of the Year

Jessica Saunders, Spalding: One word sufficiently describes the season Saunders put together on the mound at Spalding: dominating. The sophomore right-hander picked up where she left off last season, leading the top-ranked Cavaliers to the inaugural Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown and a perfect 27-0 mark. Pitching one gem after another, she saved her best for last when she pitch a one-hit, 11-inning shutout in a 1-0 win over Pallotti in the Maryland Independent Schools' state championship. Mostly relying on the fastball and always able to find the corners, Saunders finished the season 17-0 with a stingy 0.27 ERA, allowing just 41 hits and five earned runs in 131 innings. Overpowering? Saunders struck out 200. "Jessica matured a great deal this season," said Spalding coach Linda Taylor. "No. 1, she has a lot of confidence in herself and, No. 2, she also has a lot of confidence in the people behind her. That really put her at ease." Much like her 2-0 shutout win in last season's Catholic League final against Seton Keough, Saunders tossed a one-hit, 3-0 shutout against Mount de Sales in the IAAM A Tournament championship game, taking a perfect game into the last inning.

Coach of the Year

Brian Love, North County: Assembling a scrappy group that combined experienced leadership with talented newcomers, Love had his Knights playing their best ball when it counted most. The result was a series of firsts for the Ferndale program, ending with a 12-0 win over Eleanor Roosevelt to capture the Class 4A state championship. "To get out of the 4A East [region] is an accomplishment in itself and we never knew how that felt," said Love, whose Knights finished 19-4. "It helps to return six starters that know each other and played together for a long time. Then you throw in a couple of JV players who are talented, and that's a big plus." Prior to the season, Love defined each player's role individually, and after a 1-2 start, they remained poised. Following a 3-1 loss to Northeast on April 19, the Knights didn't lose again, rattling off 12 straight including a 6-2 victory over Glen Burnie in the region final and a 2-1 eight-inning win against Springbrook in the state semifinal. "Going back to March, we had high expectations, and when we got off to the 1-2 start, there was no panic. We knew we had to be ready to play in May," said Love.

The first team

Christina Bounelis, Glen Burnie: Primarily the Gophers' third baseman, Bounelis also saw time behind the plate as well as in the outfield to provide versatility defensively. There was no question where the junior was hitting in the batting order - third, what coach Bob Broccolino calls the most important slot. Bounelis batted .424 for the season with 15 runs, 14 RBIs and seven doubles in her second season of varsity.

Brittany Boyd, North County: The sophomore won her last nine decisions - capped by the Knights 12-0 win over Roosevelt in the Class 4A state final - to finish the season 13-2 with a 0.85 ERA. Boyd matured on the mound in her second season, working the corners and mixing her pitches, while still relying on her fastball to register 135 strikeouts in 99 innings. The Knights played with supreme confidence when Boyd was throwing, with their first state title the proof.

Amanda Conley, Glen Burnie: The only freshman on the Gophers' varsity roster, Conley provided tremendous defense in center field, additional speed to the lineup and some clutch hitting down the stretch. A part-time player at the start of the season, Conley quickly gained a regular spot and made the most of the chance. She ended up leading the team in hitting with a .442 average, scoring 14 runs, driving in eight and stealing seven bases.

Meg Cowen, Spalding: The sophomore third baseman was the prototype leadoff hitter - hitting .427 and scoring 24 runs - but her contributions didn't stop there. When Cowen wasn't providing the Cavs with a quick and steady glove at third, she was on the mound as their reliable No. 2 starter, going 9-0 with an 0.33 ERA. Cowen also could hit for power, collecting eight extra-base hits and driving in 10 runs.

Heather Frye, North County: One clutch at-bat really says it all - a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 1 in the Knights' 2-1 state semifinal win over Springbrook. But the sophomore brought one of the area's purest swings to the plate all season, hitting .442 with 12 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Simply a gamer, Frye played every outfield position, first base and third, also going 5-0 on the mound with a 1.24 ERA.

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