Long Reach softball savors title

Lightning gets an assist from Hammond to secure its first county crown

Atholton girls lacrosse achieves new heights

Notebook

May 17, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

Just how big was winning the county softball title for Long Reach this season?

After senior pitcher Amy Guyton got the victory against Glenelg in the regular-season finale on May 8, she drove over to Centennial to see how the front-running Eagles were doing against Hammond.

She found good news. The visiting Golden Bears, down to their last out, scored the tying run, and then went on to beat Centennial, 5-1, in eight innings.

The Lightning captured its first crown with a 15-2 county record, edging out defending county champ Centennial - 14-2 in the league - based on a better winning percentage.

"It's huge for us. Long Reach has never won a county championship before in softball, so it's great it finally came," said Guyton, who went 16-3 with an 0.98 ERA in the regular season. "We had just finished our game [against Glenelg] and were all excited we won. Then we heard the Centennial-Hammond game was tied at 1. I just said, `See you guys later,' and got there just as the game ended.

"I heard screaming but didn't know which team was screaming. Then a Centennial parent told me they had just lost a tough one. I was like, `Wow.' "

After losing its second county game on April 19 to Mount Hebron, the Lightning knew it had to run the table to have any chance of catching Centennial.

A 6-3 win over the Eagles got it started, and the team went on to win its final seven league games to secure the improbable crown.

"Once we lost to Mount Hebron, our backs were against the wall. To come out of that and win the county championship was monstrous. Coming down to the last game of the season, the stars were lined up just right for us," Lightning coach Chuck Struhar said.

The Lightning's season included a couple of individual program bests, with sophomore second baseman Sam Gajewski going into the playoffs with a school-record 22 RBIs and junior third baseman Caroline Peddicord scoring a program-high 26 runs.

The breakthrough season earned Long Reach the top seed in the Class 3A East region, one of the toughest in the state. Along with contending with fellow county teams Centennial and Mount Hebron, perennial state powers Severna Park and Northeast are in the field from Anne Arundel, along with Harford County foe Fallston.

Rising Raiders

While the top-ranked Mount Hebron girls lacrosse team remains in a class of its own, and Centennial and Glenelg have held strong in the second tier, Atholton did all it could this season to make up ground.

After going 6-9 overall and 5-5 in Howard County play last season, the Raiders enjoyed their finest season ever by going 8-4 and 7-3 in league play during the regular season.

The starting point for the Raiders, who have only three seniors, was a 6-2 early-season win over rival River Hill, which coach Martie Browning believes was the team's first against the Hawks.

"That's always been a big rival game because a lot of the girls went to the same middle school. To beat them on their turf and to outplay them kind of said to the girls, `Hey, you know what, we can really do this,' " Browning said. "Now, we need to close the gap with the top teams - try to get closer to them. That's our next goal, to make ourselves competitive with those teams."

The Raiders opened the Class 3A-2A South regional playoffs with a win over Wilde Lake on Saturday before falling to Mount Hebron, 24-0, Monday.

Another team to make strides in girls lacrosse was Long Reach, which went 7-7 and had three county wins after going 1-14 last season and winless in county play.

Chapelgate update

The Chapelgate boys lacrosse team will chase after the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference crown when it takes on top-seeded Cardinals Gibbons in the title game Friday at Johns Hopkins. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

Gibbons, which went 10-0 in league play, had 9-7 and 12-8 wins over Chapelgate during the regular season. Chapelgate captured consecutive league crowns in 2002 and 2003.

Meanwhile, the Chapelgate softball team finished its season at 15-5 after falling in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference semifinals to St. John's-Prospect Hall, 10-9, on Friday.

The Yellowjackets, led by sophomore Lauren Ahrens and freshman pitcher Meghan Black, will make the jump to the league's B Conference next year.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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