Well-seasoned for winning run

Summer play helps Oakland Mills baseball team to best mark since 1991



Putting in extra time has paid big dividends for the Oakland Mills baseball team, which clinched its first winning season since 1991 last week.

The Scorpions went into the week with a 12-7 mark, earning a 4-3 win over Long Reach on Friday to assure the successful season.

Senior left fielder Matt Heinrich had a key two-run double in a three-run third inning and junior pitcher Mike Permison came in to throw three scoreless innings - striking out six of the nine batters he faced - to record the save.

"We have three seniors, three juniors and three sophomores that are our primary starters, so this is certainly something to build with," said Oakland Mills third-year coach Rod Clifford, who has been with the program the past six years. "To me, it's huge - the first time in 15 years we finished with a winning season. The nice thing I saw talking to the guys afterward was they appreciated it and it was big for them, but they see bigger gains - that we can do more."

Clifford said an integral factor in the breakthrough has been that more of his players were playing quality baseball in the offseason. In years past, he would only have a couple of players committed to playing summer ball, whereas now, almost his entire starting lineup has put the time in.

"In the past, I told the boys that it was a case where another team wasn't any more talented than us," Clifford said. "It was just they had players that had 30 to 50 more games in playing summer ball. So they would find a situation where they had come across it many times before and it was a play they had made many times before. It was routine."

Junior catcher Brad Shepherd, who Clifford allows to call his own game, is batting a team-high .524 with 18 runs scored. Permison is 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA as the staff ace, striking out 78 in 51 innings. With 14 RBIs, he shares the lead with Heinrich. Sophomore third baseman-pitcher Jeff Randolph is hitting around .400 with five homers.

Striking again?

Only two schools have swept the Howard County track and field championships over the past 16 years. Oakland Mills won both the boys and girls crowns in 1994, but only Long Reach has duplicated that feat twice - first in 2000 and then last spring.

The Lightning appears to be poised to make an unprecedented third sweep, as the No. 6 boys team has a talented sprinter in senior Brandon Wright, a prodigious jumper in senior Charles Elmer and strong throwers in seniors Jay Washington, Brett Covington and Brian Taylor.

Similarly, the No. 6 girls squad has a double threat in senior Tiffani Long in the sprints and jumps, junior Alyce Harrell in the throws and some of the quickest relay squads in the metro area.

Perhaps the greatest threat to Long Reach's supremacy is Atholton. The No. 9 boys team includes junior Andrew Revelle and freshman Graham Bazell in the distance events, while the girls squad is paced by junior Alison Smith in the distance runs and junior Nicole Robinson in the hurdles.

Tennis on tap

The River Hill boys tennis team will try to make it four straight at the county championships set to begin today and run through Saturday at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia.

Hawks coach Matt Graves will once again count on solid play in a bid to fend off challenges from Centennial, Glenelg and Mount Hebron.

Wilde Lake sophomore David Nguyen will try to defend his No. 1 singles title and will likely get a considerable test from River Hill senior Scott Burtzlaff. Last week, Nguyen came away with a 9-8 win (7-5 in the tiebreaker) over Burtzlaff in a highly anticipated regular-season match.

Gavlin ready to go

It's safe to assume Chapelgate Christian attacker R.J. Gavlin is primed for the upcoming Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference lacrosse playoffs.

In three wins last week, the junior had 37 points as the Yellowjackets (9-5) finished in second place in the league with an 8-2 mark.

Gavlin opened with a seven-goal, eight-assist effort on May 1 in a 19-5 win over Lutheran. He scored seven goals and added three assists in a 22-9 romp of Beth Tfiloh last Wednesday. He then had seven goals and five assists in a 17-8 win over Towson Catholic on Friday.

In 11 games, he has 48 goals and 34 assists for 82 points.


Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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