But Hammond doesn't enter 2014 empty handed. Griffin was a very productive varsity hitter (.328 AVG, 14 R, 8 RBIs) last year as a freshman, and Hagerty (.276) was also a solid hitter. The returning trio of Hutchison, Richard and Whaley combined for 80 innings and eight wins last year, so the pitching staff will be proven and experienced.

Weaver gets his chance to play with the graduation of Sicca and Miller, and has the size and strength (6-2, 240) to hit the ball out of the park.

Key number: 26. League-best bases stolen by Kelley last year, nine more than the closest competition.

Howard Lions


Sign up to receive our free daily email newsletter: Columbia Today

2013 record: 9-8, 10-11

Coach: Nick Hoffner, fourth season

Last state tournament appearance: 1998; Last state championship: NA.

Key players: Seniors Brett Schaeffer (C) and Mark Reagan (OF/P); junior James Cain (P/INF); sophomores Eric Greenbaum (C), Riley Seaman (2B) and Zach Phillips (3B/P).

Key losses: Aidan Cain (P, CCBC Essex), Ben Baker (P), Logan Seitz (SS/2B , McDaniel), David Wolf (2B/OF), Darian Dudley (OF), Jake Vonella (1B), Nick Duffy (OF)

Scouting report: Opportunities abound for new Lions to step up this spring, after Howard graduated 113 hits and 80 innings of pitching from last year's team. But while senior heavy in 2013, the Lions were also breaking in several rookies.

The trio of Greenbaum, Seaman and Phillips all gained valuable experience last year and can be counted on as starters this spring. Schaeffer (.407 AVG, 22 RBIs) was one of the best run producers in the league last year, and Reagan can help the Lions on offense and on the mound.

Despite being outscored last year, 152-114, on the season, Howard finished 9-8 in league play last year. If they can figure out how to win the close games, the Lions could be a county title contender.

Key number: 18. Number of games, out of 21, in which Howard and its opponent combined to score at least 10 runs last year. The Lions were not accustomed to playing in pitchers duels.

Long Reach Lightning

2013 record: 1-16, 2-17

Coach: Mike Repsher, fifth season

Last state tournament appearance: NA; Last state championship: NA.

Key players: Seniors JD Huffman (P/C), Kyle Fleischerˆ (IF), Jake Siegleman (IF/P) and Joe Grabowski (IF); juniors Nick Moy (IF/P) and Giovanny Seanz-Diez (OF/C); sophomores Mark Wicklein (IF/P) and Josh Kulina (IF/OF).

Key losses: Chris Stanko (P/INF), Brandon Cave (P/INF , University of Maryland Club)

Scouting report: The results weren't there for the Lightning in 2013, but Long Reach returns many experienced players, including four of its top five pitchers, and its top four hitters.