North Harford's potent offense is a hit with coach

No. 9 Hawks baseball team totals 52 runs in six games


April 10, 2005|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

North Harford baseball coach Tim Larrimore felt pretty confident about the way his team would play during preseason discussions with his assistant coaches. He saw the Hawks as a good team that would have strong pitching and defense but struggle at the plate.

Larrimore's forecast was a little off, but he's not upset. Ninth-ranked North Harford's offense has rolled up 52 runs in its first six games, helping the Hawks to a 5-1 start and pleasantly surprising their coach.

Larrimore was worried that his players would be trying too hard to hit home runs after losing some power hitters from last year's team, which finished 12-7 and lost in the second round of the regional playoffs.

Larrimore and his coaches worked hard during preseason drills on trying to get the players not to pull the ball all the time. He wanted the Hawks to stick with the basics of going the other way and hitting the ball back through the box.

"We worked a lot on hitting in practice, and we spent a lot of time on it," Larrimore said. "That's what we spent the most time on. We did a lot of drills."

The work has paid off. North Harford has scored at least seven runs four times and gone over 10 runs three times - in wins over No. 11 Severna Park (11-7), C. Milton Wright (15-4) and Edgewood (12-2). The Hawks had an 11-run inning against C. Milton Wright last week.

The good hitting has backed up the solid pitching that Larrimore expected. Three left-handers - seniors John Carlos and Jake Brown and junior Joe Ashley - have pitched well.

Carlos (3-0) has won two starts and picked up a third victory in relief, while junior right-hander Jim Plantholt serves as the closer in addition to being the regular shortstop.

"We have a pretty good mix," Larrimore said. "We have a good group of seniors in quite a few positions."

Carlos and Brown platoon at first base, while fellow senior Justin Martinek takes care of third base. Seniors Kevin Jubb and Matt Betz share the center-field and catching chores. North Harford's opponents have stolen just two bases through the six games.

"They have excellent arms," Larrimore said. "And, they're interchangeable."

Senior Jack Hickey is a two-year starter at second base and classmate T.J. Jackson is batting around .400 while playing right field. Jackson also gives Larrimore another left-handed pitcher, but the coach hasn't yet used Jackson on the mound. Junior Eddie Svec sparks the lineup from the leadoff spot with an average near .400.

John Carroll moving up

The John Carroll football team will be moving to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference next fall.

But the Patriots, who finished 6-4 last season in the C Conference, will have just one change in their schedule despite moving up. They lost public school county rival Joppatowne and added a season-opening road game at Mercersburg (Pa.) on Sept. 9.

"It's the schools we always play anyway, so it shouldn't be too much of a change for us," John Carroll coach Sean Ireton said. "We should be able to fit right in."

Meanwhile, some more John Carroll players are getting their college plans in order. Pat Casey will go to Lehigh next year. He played tight end for the Patriots, but Ireton said Casey might play on the offensive line at Lehigh.

Running back Dane Frank is headed for Robert Morris, and he'll remain at that position. Kicker Dean Roberts will go to York, where he'll probably wrestle but could still play football.

Matt Hirschorn played offensive tackle and outside linebacker at John Carroll, but Ireton is not sure where he'll play when going to Bucknell in the fall.

Also, junior J.T. Levendusky is being honored at the Baltimore Touchdown Club's Super 22 banquet on April 26 as one of the area's rising seniors.

Strong run

C. Milton Wright's Kelli Buck and Megan Ravenscraft scored a pair of victories at the Metro Run and Walk Northern Virginia Invitational at Oakton High School in Vienna, Va., last Saturday.

Buck, a senior and the reigning girls Class 3A state champion in the 1,600, captured the 800 in 2 minutes, 25.71 seconds.

Ravenscraft, a junior, took the 1,600 in 5:13.16. Buck placed third in 5:15.30.

C. Milton Wright senior Samantha Beltz tied for seventh in the high jump (5 feet) and was eighth in the 100 high hurdles (16.50 seconds).

Schedule changes

The large number of early season cancellations due to bad weather leaves county athletic directors with a tough but familiar problem - rescheduling.

Forest Wiest, the county's supervisor of high school physical education and athletics, said the bad weather hurt baseball and softball the most. Teams in those sports lost several games in the first two weeks of the season, and must play at least 14 games to qualify for the state playoffs, which start May 13.

Schools can play three games per week in each sport and add one make-up game.

"You don't have a long time, and it's a short season," Wiest said. "You lose games, but the [athletic directors] do a good job of making them up."

Sun staff writer Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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