Offense carries C.M. Wright

Improved hitting helps softball team win 9 in row after lone loss to reach playoffs

Fallston boys, girls win UCBAC Chesapeake track meet



The C. Milton Wright softball team used dramatic, come-from-behind victories to make a trip to the Class 3A state finals last year. The Mustangs are having a much easier time this season.

A stronger offense has helped coach Joe Dunch's team to an 18-1 record entering this week. The Mustangs have won nine straight games after their only loss of the season, and Dunch is hoping his team's bats will stay active in the upcoming playoffs - which could be tougher now that C. Milton Wright has moved up to Class 4A.

"As a team, we're just hitting so much better this year," Dunch said. "I just think that we're being more patient, and we're looking at a lot more pitches."

The numbers are impressive. C. Milton Wright is averaging 10.2 runs per game and has a .387 team batting average. Both of those statistics are improvements over last year (5.6 runs, .295 average), when close games were the norm.

The Mustangs notched 12 come-from-behind wins last season before losing in the state final to Huntingtown. This year, C. Milton Wright has routed most opponents.

"We wanted to get out in front more and have teams chase us rather than having to rely on heroics," Dunch said. "But it's not that we haven't had a few."

One of the few close games came last Friday, when the Mustangs pulled out a 4-3 victory over Fallston. Katie Kolb singled in the bottom of the seventh of a 3-3 tie and later scored the winning run on a passed ball.

Senior catcher Katie McCauley leads the Mustangs' offense with a .508 average, up from .274 last season. She also has six homers and 25 RBIs.

Junior left fielder Cynthia Foster is hitting .459 with four homers and 21 RBIs. Classmate Megan Favazza and sophomore Nikki Hartner both made large improvements this season. Favazza, a second baseman, jumped from a .200 average last year to .446 this season. She's also driven in 23 runs.

Hartner's improvement has been even more dramatic. The right fielder struggled at the plate last season, hitting just .125. But this year Hartner has a .386 average with six homers. Senior third baseman Kaitlyn Neal has 30 hits and a .441 average along with 24 RBIs.

All of that offense has made life easier for junior pitcher Chelsea Funk. The right-hander is 18-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 120 2/3 innings.

"We've got a bunch of kids having banner years," Dunch said. "They just have a lot of confidence now."

The Mustangs meet Harford Tech in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference championship game today against Harford Tech. The regionals then begin next week.

On the run

The Fallston boys and girls track teams recorded surprisingly easy victories at the UCBAC Chesapeake Division meet last week.

The overall UCBAC championship meet - with teams from the Chesapeake and Susquehanna divisions - will finish today and tomorrow.

The Fallston boys won the Chesapeake Division meet with 146 points, ahead of second-place Bel Air (107). Fallston's girls were victorious by an even bigger margin, as the Cougars had 167 points to C. Milton Wright's 108.

Kristin Baxivanos led the girls by winning the 100- and 300-meter hurdles along with the long jump and 100-meter dash. She racked up 40 points by herself.

Freshman Jill Dozier finished second in the 100 and 200 and ran on the fourth-place 800-meter relay team and the sixth-place 400-meter relay team.

"That was a pleasant surprise," Fallston girls coach Jimmy Grant said. "She did very well."

Senior Stephanie Taylor ran a career-best in winning the 800 and anchored the victorious 1,600 and 3,200 relays. Classmate Linsey Bollmer also helped by winning the triple jump and pole vault and taking third in the long jump and sixth in the high jump - scoring 27 points by herself.

"She gave us four really good performances," Grant said.

On the boys side, juniors Chris Wagner and Andy Grabau and senior Elliott Galeone played big roles. Wagner won the 800, took second in the 400 and ran on the winning 400 relay team.

Grabau captured the 400 and ran on the first-place 1,600 relay, while Galeone scored victories in the shot put and discus for coach Bill Yoder.

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