Softball: The poll

March 17, 2010

1. Broadneck

Coach: Reese Kiple Last season: 20-0, ranked No. 1

Postseason: Class 4A state champion

The Bruins are the team to beat in Class 4A with the return of 12 players, including pitcher Kourtney Salvarola, The Baltimore Sun's Player of the Year in 2009. Rebekah Kiser, a transfer from Florida, gives Broadneck depth on the mound.

2. Arundel

Coach: Alison Grava Last season: 13-4, No. 5

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Wildcats will look to knock off Broadneck in Anne Arundel County and the region. Kayla Martinez returns as one of the top pitchers in the area and will make Arundel tough to beat.

3. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Kristin Scharek Last season: 15-4, No. 4

Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist

Outlook: The Cavaliers will challenge defending champion Seton Keough for the top spot in the league. Spalding will be led by the trio of junior pitcher-third baseman Emily Weiman, sophomore shortstop Melanie Gunning and senior second baseman Jessica Bates.

4. Chesapeake-Anne Arundel

Coach: Don Ellenberger Last season: 18-3, No. 3

Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist

Outlook: The Cougars lost half their starting lineup to graduation but will still be looking to challenge Broadneck in Anne Arundel County and in the regional playoffs. Chesapeake will be led by Megan Hyson, an All-Metro first-team pick last season who transferred from Seton Keough.

5. Seton Keough

Coach: Jackie Boswell Last season: 17-0, No. 2

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The defending conference champion overwhelmed opponents last season with its pitching and intimidating lineup. The Gators return five of their top six hitters and are expected to be formidable again.

6. Glen Burnie

Coach: Doug Schreiber Last season: 11-6, unranked

Postseason: First round, Class 4A East playoffs

Outlook: The Gophers return eight players and are looking to gain one of the top four seeds in the tough Class 4A East region. From there, Glen Burnie has the pieces to make a run in the playoffs and compete for a state title.

7. North Carroll

Coach: Lloyd Ford Jr. Last season: 18-4, No. 7

Postseason: Class 4A state finalist

Outlook: North Carroll, seeking a second straight appearance in the Class 4A state final, returns a strong nucleus of juniors led by pitcher Sam Stitely, and strong hitters in Holly Buckel, Amanda Hennessee and Jena Ruby.

8. Howard

Coach: Dave Vezzi Last season: 14-4, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Lions grew as a program last season, earning the top seed in the region and going 13-3 in Howard County after an 8-12 overall season in 2008. Howard expects to have 12 players back in an effort to make another deep playoff run.

9. Glenelg

Coach: Dean Sheridan Last season: 14-7, No. 14

Postseason: Class 1A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Gladiators had an impressive run to the state semifinals before running into powerhouse and top-seeded Pocomoke. First baseman Casey Schmidt, who hit .551 last season and was an All-Metro first-team selection, is one of the most versatile players in the state.

10. Lansdowne

Coach: Jamie Izdebski Last season: 15-5, No. 12

Postseason: Class 2A state finalist

Outlook: After advancing to the Class 2A state championship game last season, the Vikings are poised to make another run. Lansdowne returns also almost all of its players, including shortstop Emilee Ray, center fielder Kelli Pease and third baseman Jesse Dore.

11. Eastern Tech

Coach: Dave Scrivener Last season: 13-4, No. 10

Postseason: Class 2A North regional finalist

Outlook: The Mavericks are looking to build on last season's impressive run to the regional final. Eastern Tech is expected to battle Franklin, Dulaney and Perry Hall for the top spot in Baltimore County's Division I.

12. C. Milton Wright

Coach: Russell Kovach Last season: 14-7, No. 8

Postseason: Class 4A North regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Mustangs' playoff run last year was ended by eventual state finalist North Carroll. C. Milton Wright moves to Class 3A this season and returns eight players, five of whom were starters.

13. Fallston

Coach: Spike Updegrove Last season: 12-9, No. 11

Postseason: Class 3A East regional champion

Outlook: The Cougars will be looking to avenge last season's 1-0 extra-inning loss to Northern-Calvert in the state semifinals.

14. Northeast

Coach: Ken Miller Last season: 14-7, No. 13

Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist

Outlook: The Eagles put the pieces together in the postseason and advanced to the Class 3A East regional final as a fourth seed, upsetting top-seeded Howard in the process. The challenge will be replacing pitcher Heather Brown, an All-Anne Arundel County pick last season.

15. Hammond

Coach: Brad Speierman Last season: 15-3, No. 7

Postseason: Class 2A South regional semifinalist

Outlook: Despite the loss of pitcher Stephanie Speierman to graduation, the Bears should have enough talent to compete with most teams. Hammond has experience with eight returning seniors, including center fielder Kayla Hunley and catcher Katie McCarthy.

Others considered: Atholton (10-7, unranked), Bel Air (12-5, unranked), Catonsville (14-5, unranked), Franklin (20-4, No. 8), Marriotts Ridge (11-7, unranked), North County (7-10, unranked), Perry Hall (13-5), unranked

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