Arundel, Old Mill and Mount St. Joseph, ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 by The Sun, respectively, start play today in a unique baseball tournament.
The Baseball Factory, a company that aids players in securing scholarships, has set up a tournament that features some of the top teams from four states.
Besides the three highly regarded local teams, five out-of-state teams will compete in the two-day event, with each team guaranteed three games.
"It's the first time this many teams have been involved in what is basically a national tournament here in the East," said Bernie Walter, coach of nine-time state champion Arundel, which will be one of the two hosts. Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans will be the other.
"Usually, you don't get more than two or three teams from out of town like this," Walter said. "The caliber of teams and coaches for this are outstanding. Six of the eight teams playing won a state championship last year or in a recent year."
Arundel (3-1) will open at 4 p.m. at home today against Mount St. Joseph (5-1). Shenendahowa (N.Y.) will meet Frederick's Thomas Johnson in the 7 p.m. game at Arundel.
Old Mill (4-0) will play North Allegany (Pa.) in the 7 p.m. game at Cannon, after the 4 p.m. contest between Steinert (N.J.) and Jefferson (W. Va.).
The Arundel/St. Joe winner will play the Shenendahowa/Thomas Johnson winner at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Cannon, with the loser playing at 10 a.m. at Cannon.
Arundel, ranked No. 25 nationally this week in the "Fab 50" of Student Sports magazine, will host the Old Mill/North Allegany winner against the Steinert/Jefferson winner at 1 p.m. tomorrow, with the losers in those games playing the 10 a.m. game at Arundel.
Both sites will host games at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., with the championship game pitting the two unbeaten teams at 7 p.m. at Cannon.
Perhaps the most contentious rivalry in the county adds another chapter today when the Annapolis girls lacrosse team visits Severna Park at 5:15 p.m.
The two programs have split five of the past six county championships - with Annapolis winning the crown in 1996, 1998, and 2001. The Falcons captured county titles in 1997 (by defeating Chesapeake), 1999 and 2000.
Winning the regular-season meeting has not always translated into a county championship. In 1999 and 2000, the Panthers defeated Severna Park during the regular season, only to fall in the county championship game.
Thus, Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes doesn't put much weight in the theory that the team that wins the regular-season contest gains a psychological edge.
"I don't think it's ever mattered because there have been a couple of times when we've won the first game and they've won the county title," he said. "Sometimes, I think losing can give you the psychological advantage because you're more motivated to win the next time."
Today's game will pit Severna Park's high-powered offense against the Panthers' sturdy defense.
The Falcons, who are 2-0-1 overall and 2-0 in the county, are averaging 14.3 goals a game and boast some talented scorers in senior midfielders Kate Hickman and Laura Anderson.
Annapolis (4-1 overall, 2-0 county) is giving up 4.8 goals a game and is anchored by the defensive presence of seniors Laura Barnes, Caryn Lean, and Kate Lipka.
"I think our defense is going to have to play well because that's where our experience lies," Gehrdes said. "We're going to have to keep the score as low as possible, which will be hard to do against Severna Park."
Mount gets Thompson
Landy Thompson, Archbishop Spalding's All-Metro basketball guard, has committed to Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg. Thompson, who averaged 14.4 points and 3.3 assists for the No. 4 Cavaliers (29-7), will sign a letter of intent with the Mounties on April 15.
"It's a great situation for Landy - academically, socially and athletically, " said Spalding coach Mike Glick. "And he will get a chance to compete for a starting position right away."
Thompson transferred from Newport Prep to Spalding for his senior year and led the Cavaliers to the combined Baltimore Catholic League/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference season and tournament titles.
The 6-foot-1 Thompson was named MVP of the 31st BCL tournament.
Game of the Week
The Friends of Joe Cannon committee that doled out $5,000 in scholarships to outstanding baseball players last year will once again sponsor a Game of the Week at Cannon Stadium in Harmans on Friday nights, starting April 12.
Annapolis and Southern of Harwood will play the first game, which will be shown via tape delay on the Comcast and Millenium cable systems at times and dates to be announced. Four games through May 3 will be played at 7 p.m. at Cannon, followed by the county-championship game on May 8.
According to Friends president Joe Rider and game coordinator John White, the $75 game fee will be paid by the committee and the teams playing will share in the gate receipts. Admission will be $4.