N. Harford rebuilds in a hurry

Hawks' baseball team overcomes the loss of seven starters

C.M. Wright takes 78-match win string into tennis season

Notebook

March 29, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The North Harford baseball team lost seven starters from last year's Class 2A state semifinal squad, but coach Tim Larrimore still expects the Hawks to be successful this spring.

"I'm pretty happy so far," Larrimore said. "We've done well in scrimmages and we did well in our first game. We've got pitching and defense; that's what we built our team around."

Larrimore's team has a strong nucleus. Senior starters Joe Ashley (pitcher, first base), Ed Svec (outfield) and Jim Plantholt (shortstop, pitcher) and several good young pitchers should ensure that the Hawks remain competitive.

They'll need the younger players to step up after the loss of top pitchers Jake Brown and John Carlos and catchers Matt Betz and Kevin Jubb. Brown and Carlos combined for a 17-3 record last year.

The Hawks got off to a good start with a 7-3 victory over Harford Tech in their season opener on March 21. County Player of the Year Plantholt, who moves from closer to the starting rotation, gave up two runs before being replaced in the fifth.

Plantholt, who hit .466 last year with 39 RBIs in 24 games, also went 1-0 with two saves and an ERA under 2.00 to help the Hawks make their first state semifinal appearance in five years. Plantholt and Ashley are scheduled to be the team's top two starters.

Larrimore said North Harford has plenty of depth again but hitting will be the biggest question. In the opener, Svec went 4-for-4 and Ashley was 2-for-3.

Tennis streak

C. Milton Wright has been the team to beat in tennis over the past few years. The Mustangs have won five straight county or Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference championships - and 78 straight matches overall - heading into this season.

But coach Peter Griffiths knows that the streak could be in jeopardy. The Mustangs are in a rebuilding mode after posting a 13-0 record last season. They were scheduled to face North Harford yesterday and get Fallston tomorrow.

The Cougars finished second last year, with their only loss coming to C. Milton Wright. The Mustangs lost 11 of 16 players from last season's starting lineup, including boys Player of the Year Roger Torres.

"I can't remember having to replace over two-thirds of a lineup," Griffiths said. "And, we had no preseason scrimmages this year."

But the Mustangs still have talent. Senior Brad Hanley is going to play No. 1 singles, while freshman Taylor Boyle is next. Griffiths said that the No. 3 spot remains up in the air.

Senior Jessica Ahn returns to lead the girls. She was part of a state championship doubles team two years ago and took third in the state in singles last spring. Ahn earned All-Metro Player of the Year honors last year with a 20-1 record.

Freshman Katie Fritch will be at No. 2, and No. 3 should be a battle between senior Kristie Trinchere and junior Whitney Torchia.

Doubles have been a C. Milton Wright strength in recent seasons, and the Mustangs will need more of the same this year.

"Doubles is a big portion of the match, and [younger players] are going to have to pick it up as we go," Griffiths said.

Award winners

The UCBAC presented sportsmanship awards for the winter season at a Harford County Board of Education meeting last week.

Edgewood's wrestling team won the honor for the Susquehanna Division in that sport. The Joppatowne boys got the Chesapeake Division award in basketball, while the Fallston girls earned the honor for the same division.

UCBAC commissioner Bob Slagle said Cecil County schools gave out sportsmanship awards for several years, and the conference just picked up on it.

In addition, Harford Tech wrestling coach Gary Siler and his team were honored by the Board of Education for winning the Class 2A-1A state title earlier this month. The Cobras also won the UCBAC tournament and the regional crown.

The board also recognized Harford Tech's Mike Long, who won his first individual state title, helping the Cobras take their championship. Long had finished second in the state during his sophomore and junior years.

New lacrosse divisions

There will be three divisions in lacrosse this spring. One is going to be for just Cecil County schools, with the Harford schools split into two divisions.

The only difference between this and other sports is the divisions don't have any names and may stay that way.

This is the first season Cecil County schools will compete in the conference in lacrosse.

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