Davis on top of her game, lineup

Softball: Leadoff hitter Michelle Davis uses her speed to spark Glen Burnie on offense and defense.

Sports Beat

Anne Arundel County schools

April 13, 2005|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Glen Burnie softball coach Bob Broccolino runs through a handful of qualities that makes his senior captain, Michelle Davis, one of the finest in a long list of standout leadoff hitters he has worked with over the years.

When Broccolino finally gets to Davis' top attribute - speed that's tough to match - the adjective he chooses comes with an unmistakable pause for effect.

"Michelle has un ... believable speed," he says.

And Davis, a first-team All-County center fielder who also pitches, makes sure to use it everywhere.

She beats out bunts as well as routine ground balls. Anytime she walks, it's like giving up a double with her ability to read a pitcher and steal bases.

Playing defense in center, nothing gets over her head, and when Davis is on the mound, Broccolino said he's never seen his third baseman or first baseman get to a bunt before Davis.

Asked if she has always been the fastest girl, Davis quietly said "Yeah," and then laughingly added: "I kind of like that."

The No. 11 Gophers, who were 3-3 going into yesterday's game against North County, have a two freshmen, five sophomores, five juniors and just two seniors, and Broccolino has shuffled his lineup in all six games.

The team's one constant? Davis - its top-of-the-order spark.

"Michelle's our big leader," said sophomore second baseman Adrienne Blake. "You can just tell she has confidence and knows she can do it. She takes it serious, but in a relaxed way, and I think that helps her play better, and us, too."

Trying to defend against Davis when she's at the plate is serious business and often a no-win situation.

In her first varsity season as a sophomore, she mostly relied on bunts and slap hits to get on base. Since then, she has emerged as a solid line drive hitter who can find the outfield gaps and then run all day. In the Gophers' first six games, she's batting .476 (10-for-21) with five runs scored, four RBIs and five steals.

Bring the corner infielders in to play against the bunt? Or play back to keep the line drives from getting through?

"She's a coach's nightmare because she can make bad things happen all by herself," said Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger. "You have to try to read her hand, but she's late in giving it away. If she's going to lay down a bunt, the pitch is only five to seven feet from the plate before she shows it, so it's pretty close to impossible. If she hits it hard right at somebody, you have a play. But if a player has to take more than two strides, you're probably not going to get an out."

Davis, a three-sport standout who also played varsity volleyball and basketball, doesn't give away any of her hitting secrets. She downplays the important role of hitting leadoff and likes to keep it simple at the plate: "I don't think about anything really - I just try to hit the ball or get down the bunt," she said.

It works.

Last year, she hit .370, stole 19 bases in 20 tries, scored 20 runs and drove in 11.

What impresses Broccolino most is how his senior leader has quietly rubbed off on the young team.

"During practice the other day, Michelle went from first to third on a bunt and went sliding in, and I overheard one of the freshman catchers say `Geez, she never stops hustling,'" he said. "If you look at a team captain, that's what you want to see - someone who never stops whether she's running bases in practice, running in the gym to get in conditioning or in a game. She's always, always doing everything full out."

Davis, who wants to become a teacher, is considering York College with plans on playing volleyball. This spring, the plan is to keep scoring runs to help the Gophers go a long way in the playoffs.

"I think we can get far because we're working real hard in practice and things are coming together. We want it, and everyone is sticking together," she said.

THE QUOTE

"I really like giving assists. I always look for the open players, but a lot of times when teams figure out that I feed the ball a lot they come out on me. But if you come out on me, I can also take it to the goal or dish it back out." St. Mary's lacrosse standout Allison Perkins, on her county-high 39 assists in the Saints' first seven games.

THE NUMBER 7

Number of goals scored by Chesapeake junior lacrosse standout Amanda Spinnenweber in two different games last week as the Cougars beat Arundel, 17-8, last Tuesday and Old Mill, 16-11, on Friday.

THE WEEK AHEAD

BASEBALL

No. 9 Severna Park at No. 2 Old Mill

Friday, 4 p.m.

A matchup of the county's top 3A team (the visiting Falcons) and the leading 4A club (the Patriots), with two of the metro area's top two-way players - the Falcons' Chris Crum and the Patriots' Alex Buchholz.

BOYS LACROSSE

No. 7 Severna Park at No. 1 McDonogh

Saturday, 4 p.m., Lacrosse Showdown at Johns Hopkins University

The defending Class 4A-3A state champion Falcons get a crack at the metro area's new top-ranked team.

25 YEARS AGO Arundel's Butch Kirby, who was an All-County baseball, basketball and football player and is considered to be one of the finest athletes in county history, began his senior year in baseball. Kirby went on to lead the Wildcats (13-7) in batting at .465 (33-for-71), runs (23), RBIs (24), homers (six) and stolen bases (20) to earn All-Metro honors a second straight year. In the June draft of 1980, Kirby was selected in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Brewers and had a brief minor league career.

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