Howard County


March 21, 2001|By Stan Rappaport

Atholton is the two-time defending Howard County softball champion, but Raiders coach John Zitko doesn't think his team should automatically be labeled as this season's favorite.

"I think it's going to be a real dogfight in the county this year," Zitko said. "I don't see us as a favorite."

The Raiders are good enough to win another county title, but Centennial and River Hill are expected to challenge.

Atholton (22-4) has the top battery in the county with All-County players Katie Zitnay (pitcher) and Sarah Costa (catcher). Other returning starters include third baseman Stacy DeFino, shortstop Karen Lee and center fielder Aubrey Barrett. Lee, a junior, played second base and Barrett, another junior, was in right field last season. Sophomore Colette Pond takes over at second base and sophomore Katie MacFarland will be in right field. Junior Michelle McDonaugh and freshman Chelsey Barrett will see duty in left field. Freshman Meaghan Murphy will contribute as an utility player.

Centennial (15-6) returns seven starters, led by senior pitcher Amanda Hall, right fielder Becca Decesare (who also is the backup pitcher), and Laura Angle, who moves from left field to center this season. Several seniors will also contribute: catcher Melisse Boone; third baseman Jackie Case; and shortstop Sandy Palacorolla.

River Hill (16-5), which beat Atholton twice last season, will be led by second baseman Kelly Smith; shortstop Aneesha Griffin; pitcher Shannon Jackson and third baseman Megan Mitchell. Also returning are catcher Tara Fadrowski, a three-year starter; first baseman Kacie Glenn; and center fielder Robin Smith. Jackson, who didn't bat the past two seasons, will do so this year. Senior Sarah Albert will play right field, and junior Nicole Mele probably will hit for her.

Glenelg (10-9) returns four starters in shortstop Lauren Koutrelakos; pitcher Shannon Emerson; center fielder Danielle Devereux; and left fielder Chrissy Starcher. The Gladiators will start the season with two seniors, one junior, five sophomores and one freshman in the lineup.

Howard (11-10) returns six starters -- pitcher Kristin Gormus; catcher Shannon Tracy; shortstop Beth Myers; third baseman Tee Dronenberg; second baseman Toni DeAngelis; and center fielder Megan Allen -- but doesn't have a lot of depth.

Dale Harriman, who coached the JV team for four years, takes over at Long Reach (17-5). The Lightning returns four starters -- left fielder Ashley Naimaster; center fielder Kari Filipowicz; shortstop Jennifer Kennedy; and catcher Lauren Vint -- and senior Kathy Drew will pitch. Look for right fielder Crystal Buckingham, a sophomore, to contribute.

Wilde Lake (9-13) returns five four-year starters: catcher Sara Taliano; third baseman Diane Caporaletti; shortstop Megan Lucks; first baseman Grazia Silvestro; and center fielder Debbie Capelle. Senior Kristy Kaiser returns to pitch, and junior Alex King will be in left field. The Wildecats have eight seniors, six of them starters.

Mount Hebron (6-15, 6-12) has a new coach in Don Cook, who assisted last season. The Vikings have three returning starters, led by pitcher Jessica Lewis; shortstop Angela Boone; and right fielder Amanda Crehan. Senior Gianna DeCastro will start at second base, sophomore Heather Bennett at third base; and freshman outfielder Katie James has looked promising.

Hammond (1-18) has six returning starters led by catcher-first baseman Laura Erdman; shortstop Tara Zammichieli; third baseman Julie Bixler; and center fielder Abby Keller. The Golden Bears have two new pitchers: sophomore Cara Prather and freshman Lauren Record.

Three starters are back for Oakland Mills (1-18), led by pitcher Megan Buppert, who played shortstop last season as a sophomore. Also back are center fielder Carrie Sniffen and catcher Jen Walls. The Scorpions have only two seniors on the team.

Chapelgate (14-9), which plays in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference, returns seven starters, including pitcher Hope Meisinger; first baseman Emily Brundage; shortstop Gillian Wrightson; second baseman Jackie Hodge; and catcher Liz Moraz. "We have the best defense we've had since I've been here," said coach Steve Kunkel, who is starting his fifth season. "The question is offense."

Players to watch

Katie Zitnay (Atholton, junior, pitcher) Had 0.66 ERA for state Class 2A finalist Sarah Costa (Atholton, senior, catcher) Equally strong at the plate, behind the plate

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