I always feel strange this time of year, with high school sports over and the Aberdeen IronBirds season closing in. First of all, it's odd, but nice, not having to write for The Aegis website every night of the week, but I also know that in a few days I'm going to be right back in the thick of things, covering a team that only gets five days off between the middle of June and the start of September. Baseball, as they say, is a grind. I feel it, and I only have to go to the IronBirds' home games. And, they play a season much shorter than the 162-game beast you see in the major leagues. I can't imagine the psychic strain involved with playing every single day, but, that's why I'm in the booth writing about it. That, and my high school batting average was something like .265.
But, I'll have plenty of time to meditate on the rigors of minor league baseball as the summer progresses, and what I want to do now is gaze backward at the 2012-13 high school sports season, which marked my sixth full year of covering Harford County athletics since I joined The Aegis back in 2007. There were state champions, there were near misses, there were some great UCBAC divisional races and here are the performances that stood out to me, in no particular order:
Bel Air baseball wins the 3A state title: The obvious choice to lead off this list, since it happened just a few weeks ago, I think the Bobcats taking the 3A crown was so satisfying to witness because, as I pointed out in a column I wrote before Bel Air headed to the Maryland title game, I've seen a lot of baseball teams get knocked off in the state finals and semifinals. It would take me a little time to figure out how many state semifinal losses I've seen, but in title games, prior to Bel Air's victory, I'd seen just one winner, C. Milton Wright in 2010, against five losses. So, if you'd asked me before the 3A championship who I thought would win, Bel Air or its opponent, LaPlata, I'd have said something very diplomatic, I'm sure. I mean, one year before North Harford went into the 3A title matchup with Kevin Mooney on the mound, and he'd tossed a perfect game in the semifinal, but the Hawks still lost. The Bobcats though, they made it happen, and every post-season game of theirs that I covered was exciting.
The Chesapeake (upper) Division boys basketball race: To be completely blunt, this division race, which should have come down to three teams all within one game of each other in the standings, was marred by the revelation that Aberdeen had used an ineligible player and would have to forfeit all eight of its Chesapeake victories. That news came one week before the season ended, when Edgewood, Patterson Mill and Aberdeen were all fighting tooth-and-nail for the Chesapeake's top spot, and it suddenly turned into a two-team contest, but it was still one of the best division battles I've covered. Needing a win in their final division matchup, Edgewood beat Elkton, 65-44, to finish one game ahead of Patterson Mill. It's also interesting to note that Patterson Mill was playing its first season in the Chesapeake, having won the Susquehanna (lower) Division in 2011-12. The Huskies did not take long to adjust.
C. Milton Wright girls swimming nearly goes undefeated: The Mustangs, who won last year's 1A/2A/3A state swim championship in an undefeated season, came up just short in the finals this year, finishing second to the aptly named Poolesville team. CMW's girls swim squad, which won its fourth straight county title this year, is turning into something of a dynasty, though it always makes me nervous to use that word. The last time I did, Fallston battled to a 4-3 win over Atholton in the second highest-scoring field hockey final in state history. I thought the Cougars were going to cruise, but I gave them a semi-jinx by using the "D" word. In any case, the Mustangs are well deserving, and they'll be back in the state finals. You watch.