Hammond gets shot in the arm



With a talented lineup from last year's 5-16 team mostly intact, the Hammond softball team believed it only needed a little extra to turn its record around.

Turns out the Golden Bears got more than a little.

With their pitching concern answered with the arrival of freshman standout Stephanie Speierman, the Bears already have more wins than last year (they were 7-2 going into the week) and have shown they can compete with any team in the county. The team's only losses are 1-0 defeats against county champion Centennial and Long Reach.

"I think the team had a lot of confidence in our position players and the offense in previous years. We have a good combination of veteran and young players and getting a dominant pitcher like Stephanie has given everyone that much more confidence in everything we're doing," Hammond coach Dave Boteler said.

In the Bears' first eight games, Speierman had an 0.12 ERA with 118 strikeouts and just three walks, using a fastball, curve, rise, screwball and changeup to keep batters off balance. She then threw her first perfect game on Friday, a 14-0 win over Wilde Lake in five innings.

With a lineup featuring center fielder Jen Lozier, second baseman Katie Skojec, shortstop Adele Plazak, third baseman transfer Madison Whorton and Speierman, the Bears are scoring plenty of runs and coming away with wins instead of losing slugfests like in years past.

"Practices couldn't be more fun and productive - the girls are just so excited," Boteler said. "They're getting their first taste of success from softball and that's really energized things. They come out every day and work so hard - not that they didn't in years before. But they got a taste of it and now they want more and more."

Aiding the defense

The primary question for the Mount Hebron boys lacrosse team was how it would stop opponents after it lost a good chunk of its defense to graduation.

Coach Tom Minard went to his midfield to help find answers.

Seniors Ricky Kronenberger and Tim Wilson were asked to drop back to defense and the two have been good in their new roles, as the No. 9 Vikings entered the week with a 3-0 mark that included a confidence-building win over county and state champion Centennial.

"They're both very athletic, been playing lacrosse for a long time and both have very good stick skills, so making the adjustment from the short stick to the long stick hasn't been much of a problem for them," Minard said. "They've adapted to their roles and are doing well and that's important for us to succeed this season."

Kronenberger has made the biggest move, dropping all the way back to close defense, while Wilson has been used as a long pole midfielder.

"I knew our defense wasn't going to be as strong with the players we were losing, so I just accepted the change for the better of the team," said Kronenberger, who played defense in his club leagues during the offseason to prepare. "We weren't really too sure how it was going to work out at the beginning of the season, but we're definitely coming together and things look pretty solid."

Wrestlers shine

Glenelg wrestlers Danny Bichner and Chris Stinnett, each at 124 pounds, teammate Brian Marcoux (117), Hammond's three-time state champion Vince Taweel (140) and River Hill's regional champion Nathan White (108) all excelled at last weekend's Scholastic Showcase at Delaware State University in Dover.

Bichner, a Class 2A-1A state runner-up, posted a 5-2 record, including victories over Michigan's Zack Stevens and Florida's Billy Spreitzer.

Basketball all-stars

Long Reach senior forward Darryl Webb, Pallotti's Courtland Bluford and Howard's Chris Moore were standouts in the Maryland-Pennsylvania All-Star Basketball Game at Steeltown High in Harrisburg, Pa., on Saturday.

Webb, who led the Lightning to the Class 3A state title, scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Maryland team to a 107-94 win. It ended a four-game losing streak to the Pennsylvania team in the basketball showcase.

Bluford added 26 and Moore finished with 20 as Maryland came back from a 59-51 halftime deficit. Reservoir's Andy Parker finished with 12 points and Glenelg's Danny McMahon had six.


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