CCBC-Essex feeling at home in NJCAA lacrosse title quest

State notebook


May 07, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Baltimore vs. New York.

Nothing stirs the passions of lacrosse enthusiasts more than the prospect of these two hotbeds of the game clashing on the field.

That's why this weekend is special, as unbeaten and No. 1 Community College of Baltimore County-Essex will have a chance to capture the national junior college men's lacrosse championship.

The Knights (17-0) not only are top-seeded for the first time in the National Junior College Athletic Association lacrosse final four, but they are the tournament hosts.

More than 1,000 spectators are expected tomorrow at CCBC-Essex Stadium at noon to watch the Knights battle Nassau Community College (8-5) in a semifinal game.

Nassau (Long Island, N.Y.) owns NJCAA championship game victories over Essex in 1999 and 2002. The Knights ended the Nassau final four jinx last season with a 16-8 victory in the semifinals, but lost in the final to another New York squad, Herkimer County Community College, 21-11.

That's three title-game losses in five years, a pattern Essex coach Brian Duncan believes should end this weekend.

"We're a marked team by the No. 1 seed," said Duncan, who is in his first season as head coach after four years as an assistant. "But our guys are confident and focused. I've never seen a team with such a high chemistry level and we have four guys who have 40 points or more."

Those four are freshmen: midfielder Evan Kay (27 goals, 36 assists), attackman Jon Beard (34 goals, 18 assists), midfielder Andy Bishop (31 goals, 19 assists), and midfielder Adam Wade (33 goals, 10 assists).

The defense is led by sophomores Frank Hopkins, Justin Berdeguez and Jeff Paul, while sophomore faceoff specialist Sean Dobbs has been superb this season. "We have a lot of speed and size and play a strong transition game," said Duncan. "If we maintain our composure and focus, I believe we can pull the monkey from our backs and move forward."

Two New York teams, second seed Herkimer (14-1) and third seed Monroe CC of Rochester (13-4), meet in a 3 p.m. semifinal. The winners meet Sunday at 1 p.m. for the championship.

Abrams leads Terror

McDaniel College has earned its second trip in three years to the NCAA Division III softball tournament, riding the pitching and hitting of senior right-hander Samantha Abrams.

The Green Terror (27-9) will play at 10 this morning in a six-team, double-elimination regional at Salisbury University, with the winner advancing to the Division III World Series in Salem, Va., on Thursday. Fifth seed McDaniel will meet fourth seed Cabrini (Pa.) College (32-11).

The winner faces top-seeded Salisbury (35-5) at 2 p.m. today. The Sea Gulls are seeking a third straight trip to the World Series, having finished second in the nation last season.

Abrams (15-4, 1.20 ERA, 81 strikeouts, 47 walks in 111 innings) leads McDaniel in hits (46) and runs scored (31), and is second in slugging percentage (.462) and batting average (.354).

Freshman second baseman Mary Abrams, Samantha's sister, leads the team in hitting (.357) and slugging (.541), and has three home runs and 20 RBIs. She is expected to replace her sister as McDaniel's No. 1 pitcher next season.

Senior right fielder Heather Sinclair and junior catcher Caitlin Burns are tied for the team lead with four home runs. Senior left fielder Lauren Cramer leads in RBIs with 29.

Hot at Hopkins

Junior center fielder Paul Winterling has three home runs and has driven in nine runs in the past two games for No. 1 Johns Hopkins (37-1).

Winterling has 10 home runs this season, becoming the first in school history to hit 10 or more homers in two years (he hit 12 in '03).

Winterling led the Centennial Conference for a second straight season in home runs, RBIs (49), slugging percentage (.767), walks (26), and he had a league-high 26 steals in 27 attempts.

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