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Catonsville Chaos softball coaches look forward to tryouts

After a long and successful softball tournament season, no one could blame the coaches of the Catonsville Chaos 18-and-under squad for taking a few weekends away from the softball diamond at Catonsville Middle School.

They did just that for one weekend in August, but they’ll be back on the field evaluating talent on Sunday, Aug. 24, for the second consecutive weekend of tryouts for next year’s squad.

Tryouts for all age groups will be held from 9 a.m until 3 p.m.

Head coach Kerry Burns, and assistants Mark Hall, Carly Read, Karen Carr and Katie Blackston, will use players from the tryouts, along with some returning Chaos players, for a pair of fall showcase tournaments.

Read played at Seton Keough before heading to Salisbury University where she was on the 2013 team that was an NCAA Division III national runner-up squad.

Carr played at Lansdowne High and Blackston is a graduate of Western Tech.

Hall has around 20 years coaching experience in travel baseball, but the second-year assistant is familiar with the fastpitch game, having played for two Maryland State championship teams.

If they can find players who mesh like the 2014 summer squad, they should be in for another banner season next year.

“They all got along well,” Burns said. “They liked each other and they were very coachable kids.”

Using a rotation of pitchers Kayli Paugh, Stefanie Ray and Leanne Collins, the Chaos went 39-16 overall and finished second in four tournaments and third in another one.

“Without exception, every kid on the roster contributed to victories at one tournament or another,” said Burns, who noted the highlight tournament of the season was going 6-2 and finishing second out of 49 teams at the Virginia Beach Elite Showcase.

They entered the tournament with 10 players, but were forced to play seven of the eight games (in three days) with nine players after leadoff hitter and catalyst Sammy Bost injured her hamstring in the first game.

“They lost their leader and still went all the way to the finals,” said Burns, noting Bost was the East Coast Athletic Conference South Rookie of the Year at Lebanon Valley College.

The following weekend they came close to winning it all at the Summer Sizzler in Pa.

They went 5-0 and held a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning of the championship game, but they lost the title on a walk-off three-run home run.

They concluded the summer season by placing 12th, after going 3-3, at the Amateur Softball Association Eastern Nationals in Sterling, Va.

Pitching and defense were keys all season as they allowed two runs or fewer in 23 of the 39 victories.

Two players who sparked that defense were second baseman Allison Clampitt and outfielder Hailee Clampitt.

The twins from Arbutus spent their spring winning the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference softball title at Seton Keough.

Hailee Clampitt hit a grand slam in the championship game for the 16-3 Gators and she was also the co-valedictorian along with Ashley Lemanski.

She will attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County this fall and doesn’t plan to play softball there.

Allison Clampitt, who was class president for all four years at Seton Keough, plans to play at Salisbury University next spring along with Collins, who starred at Hereford High.

This year’s Chaos had several players who recently completed their first year of college, including Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville players Amber Cluster (SS), Crystal Huffington (3B/C) and Jessica Dubbs (OF) Stevenson University’s Julie Oros (SS) and Bowie State’s Ray.

Paugh, the Howard County Player of the Year and a Howard High graduate, led the team in home runs and average, will play at Hood College next spring.

Erin Collins, Alexis Bishop and Julie Barnhouse also contributed for the Chaos.

“It was a very select group of kids,” said Burns, who plans on having at least five or six return next season.

The coach hopes the new additions will blend as nicely as this year’s unit.

“They are without question the most accepting group of players I’ve ever had,” Burns said. “We had six new players on the team this year and everybody got accepted and got along well. This was a really easy job coaching them.”

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