Fallston's Mark Puckett took a break from coaching baseball after 1995, but returned more refreshed this season.
"It's great to be back," said Puckett, 42, who still taught health at Fallston and replaced Rob Limpert this year after the latter stepped down to pursue other interests. "I have a great group of kids who are very good at taking it one game at a time."
His renewed interest, coupled with the team's blue-collar work ethic, has the Cougars (16-6) riding a nine-game winning streak that includes capturing the Harford County title. The Cougars, state runners-up in 2000, visit Patapsco for today's Class 3A North region title game as they try to reach the state title game for only the second time in school history.
Ryan Weller (6-0) will get the nod against Patapsco. He leads a pitching rotation that includes Tim Smith (3-0) and left-hander Adam Canning (4-2). Smith is batting .359 with 16 RBIs. Second baseman Chris Tolliver is hitting .447 with 18 RBIs and first baseman Neale Minarik, .417 with 26 RBIs. Utility player Drew White is hitting .389 with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Roland Park's Varsity 8 crew had to wait only a week before avenging its loss at the Baltimore Rowing Championships to the Institute of Notre Dame.
Saturday at St. Andrew's in Delaware, the host team won the 1,500-meter race in 5:26.76, but the Reds were second in 5:36.51, followed by IND (5:43.17), Bryn Mawr (5:50.19) and St. Paul's (6:01.84).
The Reds - coxswain Charlotte Hindsley, Lauren Shepley, Airlia Esworthy, Emily Dierkes, Kristina Pompa, Libby Cole, Olivia Stringer, Callie Helms and Morgan Katz - also came closer than ever to St. Andrew's, one of the best high school girls crew teams in the country.
At 500 meters, the Reds took off, boosting their stroke rate to 38 per minute and gaining a half boat-length on IND.
"We planned that for later in the race, but our coxswain thought it was time," said Reds coach David Rosen. "She gambled a little bit by taking such a move early, but it did pay off."
Joppatowne has won nine of its past 10 games heading into today's Class 2A East baseball game at Easton.
Ryan Davis (.485, four home runs) leads the way with nine doubles and 17 runs scored and is 4-0 as a pitcher. Center fielder Austin Hawkey (.456, 27 RBIs) also has nine doubles with 21 runs scored. And catcher Jeff Bates (.377, three home runs) has 18 RBIs, 26 runs scored and five doubles.
Gators track unbeaten
Seton Keough's track team ran through the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference unbeaten for the first time in school history.
Sprinters Mary Coombs, Katryna Burs and Doris McKelvin lead the team and are in contention for several titles in tomorrow's IAAM Track and Field Championships, a combined meet with the A Conference.
After Wednesday's preliminaries, Coombs advanced to the finals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. McKelvin made it at 100 and Burs at 200. The trio also will try to bring home titles in the 400- and 800-meter relays. Jaki Johnson rounds out the 400 team and Dominique Ruth the 800 foursome.
The Gators also contend in the throws with Sabrina Despenstre in the discus finals and Johnson in the shot put finals.