Maya Schwartz, Atholton. A first-year catcher at the high school level who had previously starred as an infielder, Schwartz settled in to the role immediately this spring and was the kind of leader the Raiders needed.
"She definitely felt the most comfortable behind the plate and I think she liked that she could run the game back there … she's a catcher at the travel level, so it wasn't a new position for her," Atholton coach Bob Baxter said. "There's something about Maya that you can't teach. She just has an innate ability to play her sport."
At the plate, she was the team's leader in six different major offensive categories. Her batting average of .534 was second best among the county's public school players and was an improvement of 180 points from her junior campaign. She also posted team-high numbers in hits (31), runs (19), RBI (18), doubles (8) and home runs (2).
Sammi Cadigan, Mt. Hebron. Before the season began, Vikings' coach Chuck Struhar predicted that his senior first baseman was poised for a breakout campaign. Sure enough, after never previously making all-county, Cadigan exploded onto the scene as arguably the county's most-improved player. The four-year varsity letter-winner improved her batting average from .224 as a junior all the way up to .474 this spring — among the top 10 averages in the county.
"I told my assistant before the year, she's going to be the county's biggest sleeper. And she really was … she kept getting better and better as the season went on," Struhar said. "She could absolutely crush the ball and even her outs were hard outs."
Cadigan finished with eight doubles and was among the team leaders in multi-hit games. She spent time batting in a number of different spots in Mt. Hebron's powerful lineup and produced in all of them, scoring 20 runs and driving in 18.
Alli Bluhm, Mt. Hebron. A three-time all-county player, Bluhm was the bat at the heart of the Vikings line-up and was the anchor of the team's defense from her shortstop position. She had power numbers (five doubles, five triples, two home runs) to go with a solid batting average (.390) and a .930 fielding percentage to round things out defensively.
"Alli is as sound offensively and defensively as any player you will find at this level," Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said. "From where she came in as an outfielder to becoming an absolutely tremendous shortstop … she earned all of it through hard work and determination."
Bluhm's hottest stretch undoubtedly came during the middle of the season when she helped carry the Vikings to what ended up being a double-digit winning streak. Over the first two weeks of April, she had seven extra-base hits — including a double and a home run in a one-run victory over River Hill.
Rachel Cadigan, Mt. Hebron. The sophomore second baseman is lauded by coach Chuck Struhar as quite possibly the best defender he's every coached.
"I've been doing this for almost 30 years and I have never seen someone cover as much ground as she does at second base. There is just no one in her class," Struhar said. "Rachel could almost literally cover the entire right side of the infield by herself. That initial first step that she has is so quick that she gets to balls that no one else can."
In addition to her standout play with the glove, Cadigan also blossomed into a tremendous all-around hitter as well after spending most of her freshman season as a full-time slap hitter. She raised her batting average to .466 and collected 12 RBI after posting just one as a freshman. Cadigan's speed also helped her finish as the county's top base stealer, swiping a total of 19 bags on the season.
Amanda Petersen, Atholton. A first-time all-county selection, Petersen's greatest strength was her consistency on both sides of the ball. She boasted a .444 batting average hitting in the third spot most of the year, and she was among the top two for the Raiders in almost every offensive category. But she also was terrific with the glove at her shortstop position, compiling a fielding percentage of .948.
"Amanda has the complete package with the offense — an absolutely beautiful swing — and the defense — a great arm and great range," Atholton coach Bob Baxter said. "She has great natural ability to play the game and is passionate about it.
"In just about every competitive game we played, she played a huge role."
Petersen finished with eight doubles and 19 runs scored. Further showcasing her versatility, she also stepped in and played catcher for one game — a position Baxter says she could end up playing full time as a senior because of her experience at the position during travel ball.
Evvie Buehlman, Mt. Hebron. A finalist for Player of the Year honors, Buehlman picked up right where she left off after a dazzling freshman campaign in 2013.