Player of the Year: Kirsten Wells, Fallston
After going 10-0 last season as the Cougars' No. 2 pitcher, Wells was primed for the challenge of becoming the team's ace this spring. She shined throughout the regular season and kept on shining with an impressive playoff run, saving her best for last as the Cougars upset then-No. 1 Severna Park to win the Class 3A state crown.
Wells' two-hit, 12-strikeout performance in the 3-1 eight-inning championship win was a microcosm of her entire season. She counted on poise, pinpoint control and a good mix of pitches to go 22-1 with a 0.20 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 142 innings.
"She was so ready to prove to herself and others what a great pitcher she was and it was great to see her become more and more confident as the season went on," said Fallston coach Pam Gauss. "It was amazing how she matured throughout the season and you could see it on her face when she was on the mound. She was always so focused."
Wells also made a key contribution at the plate in the middle of the Cougars' lineup, batting .348 with 16 runs and 14 RBIs. She will attend Salisbury University, but is unsure whether she'll play softball.
Coach of the Year: Byron Moore, Westminster
A potentially promising season turned into so much more for the Class 4A state champion Owls, who ran the table with a 23-0 mark that was capped by a 4-2 win over Chesapeake of Anne Arundel in the championship game.
Moore, in his second season, had a solid base of players from last year's 12-6 team; benefited from the addition of pitcher Stacy Davis, a transfer from Century; and made sure to identify every player's role. It added up to the program's most successful season.
The Owls came from behind nine times and were the winner in five one-run games to show championship-quality character. "A lot of heart goes into winning those kind of games and it got to where we didn't want to lose," said Moore.
In a 2-1 eight-inning win over Watkins Mills in the semifinals of the state tournament, Moore asked cleanup hitter Davis to lay down a squeeze bunt that brought home the winning run. Against Chesapeake, he encouraged his team to be aggressive against All-Metro pitcher Kristie Hurman and they were, pounding out five hits in the deciding four-run fourth inning.
Allison Borchers, Fallston
A fitting end to a fine career came for the second baseman, who helped lead the Cougars to the program's first Class 3A state title and the area's No. 1 ranking. A constant spark at the plate, The Delaware-bound Borchers batted .427 with 19 runs and 16 RBIs. Among her 31 hits were four doubles, two triples, a homer and she also reached base eight times by walks.
Borchers, who also saw time at shortstop, gloved just about everything that came her way, finishing with a .918 fielding percentage. The four-year starter had an eighth-inning single that drove in the last run of the Cougars' 3-1 state final win over Severna Park.
Stacy Davis, Westminster
Talk about a welcome addition, all the Century transfer did was carry the Owls (23-0) to the Class 4A state title. The junior pitcher/second baseman did it by dominating on the mound - saving her best stuff for the playoffs - as well as at the plate as the team's cleanup hitter. Sharing the pitching duties with Megan Lahner, Davis went 13-0 with a tidy 0.25 ERA.
She had both wins in the state playoffs, throwing a three-hitter in a 2-1 eight-inning win over Watkins Mill in the semifinal and then beating Chesapeake of Anne Arundel, 4-2, with a two-hitter. Offensively, she batted .350 and had team highs with 15 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
Kristin Fusco, Pallotti
Fusco's speed was a constant factor whether she was getting to fly balls in center field, dragging a bunt or wreaking havoc on the bases. The four-year starter and repeat first-team selection was the Lions' leadoff hitter since the start of her freshman year and it's easy to understand why. This season, she batted .446 - reaching 11 more times on walks - with 13 stolen bases that helped lead to 28 runs scored.
Fusco also made the most of her chances with runners in scoring position by driving in a career-high 13 runs. Fusco would do anything to chase down a fly ball - coming up with 27 putouts and two assists while making just one error all season to finish with a .967 fielding percentage.
Ashley Gray, Northeast
A huge chunk of the Eagles' success can be directly attributed to Gray, who closed out a stellar four-year varsity career with overwhelming stuff on the mound and a highly productive bat. A good mix of pitches seemingly always found the desired spots to keep batters puzzled as she finished 11-3 with a 0.34 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 innings this season.
Gray, a repeat first-team selection and former Baltimore City/County Player of the Year while at Institute of Notre Dame in her sophomore season, flat out hit the ball hard from the cleanup spot of the Eagles' lineup, batting .491 with 16 RBIs and 13 runs.
Kristie Hurman, Chesapeake-AA
Inexperience made Hurman a question mark at the start of the season, but the senior pitcher fast became an exclamation point as she led the No. 4 Cougars to the Class 4A final. Getting ahead in the count and letting her strong defense do its part played big for Hurman, who saw limited time on the mound as a junior but made up for lost time this spring.
She made the most of her chance to be the ace this season, going 18-5 with a 1.14 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 153-plus innings. Hurman tossed a no-hitter, allowing just one walk, in Chesapeake's 8-0 win over Eleanor Roosevelt in the state semifinals.
Kaila Jenkins, Severna Park
What's coming next? That's what batters tried to figure out when up against the dominating sophomore pitcher and the overwhelming majority were baffled. With an overwhelming fastball, an emerging changeup and other fine pitches in between, Anne Arundel's Player of the Year led the No. 3 Falcons to the Class 3A final.
While the Falcons were unable to make it two straight crowns, losing to Fallston in extra innings, Jenkins (19-4, 0.47 ERA with 301 strikeouts in 162 innings) made a stellar season-long impression. The repeat first-team pick also made a big impact at the plate hitting .493 with 21 RBIs and 16 runs.
Lindsay Lowder, Institute of Notre Dame
A model of consistency in center field and all business hitting second for the Indians, the standout senior closed out a stellar four-year varsity career with first-team honors for a second straight season. Lowder set the single-season mark with 34 hits, making her the program's all-time leader with 105 over her career.
The talented slap hitter gave headaches to opposing infields, batting .466 with 21 runs scored and a career-high 13 RBIs. She also stole 16 bases and successfully sacrificed four times. Lowder also was the glue to one of the metro area's top defensive outfields, finishing the season with nine putouts and two assists.
Danielle Martinez, North County
Everything you look for in a catcher was found behind the plate at North County, where the senior and repeat first-team choice closed out a remarkable three-year career that included Class 4A state titles in her sophomore and junior years. Martinez hit for average (.522) and power (.791 slugging percentage with 20 RBIs) from the cleanup spot, threw out most everyone who tried to steal on her (17 of 19 runners) and was influential as a team captain.
The No. 6 Knights, who captured the Anne Arundel County crown, were unable to win a third straight Class 4A state title, but Martinez still provided the clutch hits throughout the season that became a benchmark over her three years.
Colleen Matthes, Institute of Notre Dame
The freshman pitcher didn't waver for a minute this season, showing she was more than up to the challenge of being a staff ace in the tough Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. The Indians were the league runner-up and poised pitching from Matthes was a big reason why. She finished 19-5 with a 0.70 ERA, and her three no-hitters and 10 shutouts were program-bests for a season.
Matthes, mostly relying on a nasty drop and an improved changeup, had 177 strikeouts in 160 innings while giving up just 86 hits. She also made a contribution at the plate with 16 RBIs - second best on the team.
Lauren O'Malley, Mount de Sales
With a good eye at the plate and a swing designed for hard line drives, the left-handed- hitting sophomore was the offensive spark for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's A Conference champs. O'Malley, a pitcher and an outfielder, batted .371 with 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored for the Sailors, who won the league tournament as the fourth seed after upset wins over Pallotti and Institute of Notre Dame.
In mid-April, O'Malley made Archbishop Spalding's highly touted Cavalier Classic her very own hitting clinic, going 5-for-7 in two games with a homer, two doubles and a triple.
Brittany Owen, Chesapeake-AA
The senior third baseman, a repeat first-team selection, put together another quality season filled to the max with timely hits and sure fielding to lead the No. 4 Cougars to the Class 4A state championship game. The team's offensive catalyst at her cleanup spot, Owen batted .386 with team highs in RBIs (28) and runs scored (26); she also came up with eight extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases.
Quick to react at third with a reliable throw across the diamond, Owen had a remarkable .986 fielding percentage with just one error made for the second straight season. The three-year starter had 71 hits in 71 games to finish with a .364 career average.
Christina Smith, Pallotti
The senior catcher was a four-year luxury for the Lions, providing fine craftsmanship from behind the plate and consistent offensive production hitting third in the order throughout her varsity career. This season, Smith batted .481 with 22 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
Her six doubles, six triples and two homers made for an impressive .792 slugging percentage and she nearly always made contact, striking out only three times in 77 plate appearances. Smart with a good feel for the game, Smith didn't commit an error the entire season and threw out seven runners trying to steal.
Sloane Van Meter, Archbishop Spalding
Find a gap and go - that was the foundation of Van Meter's sensational freshman season. Her whopping numbers could easily suggest she was a cleanup hitter, but the center fielder showed she could do it all batting first in the Cavaliers' lineup. With quick bat speed that produced impressive power numbers, she hit .506 in her first season with six doubles, seven triples and six home runs.
That work generated 35 runs, 23 RBIs and a 1.000 slugging percentage with 77 total bases in 77 plate appearances. While dynamic at the plate, Van Meter was consistently good in center, committing only one error to finish with a .967 fielding percentage.
Brittany Woods, Dulaney
The junior first baseman, a repeat first-team selection along with her older sister, Dani, once again provided the Lions with a dangerous bat and near-flawless play in the infield. Smart and aggressive batting third in the lineup, Woods was able to find different ways to get on base and then go from there.
It translated into a .371 batting average, including five doubles and a triple with 13 RBIs and 22 runs scored. She finished with a .993 fielding percentage for the season.
Dani Woods, Dulaney
The Baltimore City/County Player of the Year closed out a fine high school career with another brilliant season offensively while effectively moving to shortstop from second base. The left-handed Woods, a repeat first-team All-Metro pick, again posted staggering numbers - .547 batting average, five homers, four doubles, two triples, 23 RBIs and 23 runs scored - to lead the Lions to the Class 4A North region title game.
Set to play for nationally ranked Alabama next season, Woods was a three-time All-Baltimore City/County first-team pick.
Name School Class Position
Amber Criss Mount de Sales Senior Pitcher
Amanda Fefel Catonsville Sophomore Pitcher
Karen Kreis Mount Hebron Senior Pitcher
Beth Mullins North County Junior Pitcher
Becky Zanelotti Pallotti Senior Pitcher
Karyn Curley Glenelg Senior Catcher
Erin Brady Mount de Sales Sophomore First base
Jessica Pickard North Carroll Senior Second base
Sara Schmidt Glen Burnie Senior Second base
Lindsey Mueller Fallston Junior Third base
Tracey Dahlen Chesapeake-AA Senior Shortstop
Kate Schoenen Mount Hebron Senior Shortstop
Alexa Ashwell Westminster Senior Outfield
Courtney O'Hara Inst. of N. Dame Junior Outfield
LeeAnn Raber Northeast Senior Outfield
Kurisha Hoffman Towson Senior DH
Note: Teams selected by Glenn P. Graham after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.