I waver between saying this half jokingly and dead seriously, but this is my favorite time of year because I've got at least six months before I have to go through the process of selecting All-Harford sports teams. Right now, I'm leaning toward the lighter side of that spectrum, as picking this year's baseball and softball teams, minus a few misunderstandings and crossed signals between me and the coaches, went pretty easily.
Baseball and softball's All-Harford teams, especially the former, have always been easier for me to put together, though I don't want to speculate as to why, because it might uncover some kind of bias I've been hiding for the last seven years. Even four seasons ago, when I put nine C. Milton Wright baseball players on a first-team with 16 slots, it didn't present much of a challenge. It helped that the Mustangs had gone undefeated and won a 3A state title. Still, I didn't pull my hair out over it for days at a time, like I've done a few times with the field hockey or boys basketball teams.
As I pointed out at the beginning, however, I don't have to worry about this stuff until November. Let's look instead where these past baseball and softball seasons threw me for a loop. I'll list them in descending order:
1. Havre de Grace softball takes the Chesapeake Division softball crown: I don't want the Warriors to take this as a knock against them, because I knew watching them in 2013 that they had the offensive firepower to keep pace with anyone in the UCBAC, but I have never banked on a newly-promoted Susquehanna Division team winning the upper title in its first season. It has happened a handful of times in the conference's history (the one I remember best being Havre de Grace winning the Chesapeake boys basketball crown on the last day of the regular season a few years back) but the occurrence is rare enough that I wouldn't put it in my preseason predictions. The Warriors were up the challenge though, and they came out on top of an upper-division title race that was an absolute dogfight. I'm sorry, Warriors, that you had to go out with a playoff loss to Bo Manor, which was a crummy way to end a fine run, but well done.
2. A non-Harford County team was a front runner in the Chesapeake Division baseball race: I'm not going to get into a Harford vs. Cecil or baseball vs. all the other sports discussion, but the Chesapeake Division baseball race, as I've written many times in this column, has, at least during my tenure at The Aegis, come down to a fight between local teams, especially that three-headed, Class 3A North beast of Bel Air, C. Milton Wright and North Harford. This has been the case for so long that I usually just count out any real challenge from those upper-division teams that reside East of the Susquehanna River. This year though, the Rising Sun boys caused me to do a double take, and, as Havre de Grace softball did, made me rethink my preseason assumptions. It was only a pair of one-run, come-from-behind victories from North Harford that kept Rising Sun from hoisting the Chesapeake Division crown. That, my friends, would have blown my mind, but one of the local teams wound up winning, so I guess I was right all along.
3. A Harford County baseball team won the 3A North regional title and advanced to the state title game: Just kidding. That happens every year.