A year ago, the Liberty boys lacrosse team got a taste of the big time by advancing to its first Class 2A-1A state title game. This season, the senior-laden Lions are preparing for a second helping.
Led by senior Matt Latham, Liberty has been a force, scoring an average of 15 goals.
"I knew that with so many seniors returning we would be pretty good, but some guys have really stepped up their level of play," coach Andy Cunningham said.
While Latham has established himself as the county's top offensive threat, with 35 goals and 19 assists through Monday, several teammates also have surged offensively, including attackman Cody Henn (26 goals, 16 assists) and midfielders Pat Dougherty (19, six) and Adam Spain (10, 10).
Liberty has five games remaining in the regular season, including tomorrow night's game against Class 4A-3A semifinalist Westminster.
For this team, however, the goal is clear.
"Once you go to the championship game, you're kind of unsure of what to do," Cunningham said. "I think this year, they realize that that's the ultimate end-of-the-season goal for us."
Johnson boosts Key
After consecutive losses to Liberty and Winters Mill, Francis Scott Key softball pitcher Megan Johnson took matters into her own hands on Friday.
Johnson threw a one-hit shutout and struck out 13, while leading the Eagles' offense with two hits and three RBIs in an 8-0 win over Frederick.
Key had seven hits in the game, matching its total from the previous two games. To co-coach Joe Linthicum, the team's performance at the plate will determine how far it can go this season.
"We need to be more productive with our at-bats to take the pressure off the pitching and defense," said Linthicum, who is in his 22nd year as coach.
The one constant has been the pitching of Johnson, who earned first-team All-County honors as a sophomore while splitting time on the mound with Jessica Linthicum, the coach's daughter. Now, the junior has taken over the full-time starting role and has an ERA around 1.00, mixing her fastball with a curve, riser and changeup.
Key is scheduled to host to Walkersville this afternoon.
Hurd starts fast
The surprise for Alexis Hurd began with her first event of the recent Knights Invite at North County in Glen Burnie.
Competing in her first invitational of the spring season, the North Carroll freshman captured the 100-meter dash in 12.7 seconds.
Hurd, who also won the 200 in 26.3 seconds and the long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 1/2 inch, was stunned at her performance in the 100.
"That day, I ran my first 100 of the season. So I was proud of what I did," said Hurd, an All-County selection who recorded victories in the 55 and 300 during the indoor season.
Hurd had plenty of company from her Panthers teammates. Senior Tinsley Stokes cleared 5-2 to take the high jump, while sophomore Jessica Huber reached 9-0 to claim the pole vault. The 3,200-meter relay squad also won in 10 minutes, 24.0 seconds.
Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.