Player of the Year: Lauren Haag, Severna Park
There were the big things - the .422 batting average, 20 RBIs, 29 runs and only one error at shortstop - as well as the little things - calling the coach a few hours before the state championship game to field some grounders and always having positive words for the younger players as the only senior in the lineup.
It all added up, and in the end the Haag-led Falcons captured the Class 3A state championship.
It was fitting that Haag scored the game-winning run in the Falcons' 1-0 win over Calvert in the state final. Cavaliers freshman pitcher Megan Elliott struck out 18 straight Falcons before Haag led off the seventh inning.
After gathering her team and letting them know it was time to step up, she did just that with a single to center after two strikes. She scored the winning run two outs later. Haag also had come across with the winning run in the Falcons' 1-0 win over North Carroll in the state semifinals.
"She is probably the most disciplined and self-motivated person I've ever met," said Severna Park coach Jeff Shepherd. "And a perfect example was that seventh inning in the championship game.
"She called all the girls over and demanded nothing less than their best and then led by example. That could have been the championship game or any other game."
Haag, who carries a weighted 4.60 grade-point average and will play at Emory College in Atlanta next year, spent four years at shortstop and was the Falcons' leadoff hitter.
Coach of the Year: Jackie Boswell, Seton Keough
Going into the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament, the Gators knew they had a big hill to climb as the fifth seed. They came prepared, knocking out Mount de Sales first, then the Institute of Notre Dame and, finally, Pallotti in the championship game, 13-1. Constant reinforcement from Boswell was a major factor in the No. 8 Gators (11-6) celebrating their first conference title.
Seton Keough, which went 2-12 last year, was 4-6 midway through the season before avenging an 8-0 loss to John Carroll with a 5-3 win in nine innings. It was the first of seven straight wins to close out the season.
"I kept telling them they are better than what they are playing and until they started believing, they would keep losing," said Boswell. "We knew how hard they worked. If a team takes it, that's fine. But we didn't want to give up anything."
The Gators didn't give up anything in their improbable postseason run. During the regular season, they went 1-5 against the three ranked opponents they beat in the tournament.
Allison Borchers, Fallston
The talented junior second baseman put up staggering offensive numbers to lead the Cougars to a 22-1 season and a trip to the Class 3A North region final game. The team co-captain hit .595, with 39 runs, 31 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. She also had a 1.089 slugging percentage, eight doubles, eight triples and five homers.
With Borchers leading the offense, the Cougars went undefeated in Harford County and didn't lose until a 3-1 setback to Dulaney in the regional final.
Tracey Dahlen, Chesapeake-AA
A second-team All-Metro selection last year as a sophomore, the talented shortstop did it all this season.
Dahlen batted .519 - 81 percentage points higher than last season - scored 20 runs and stole 23 bases, which were all team highs. Her 16 RBIs were second on the Cougars (19-4). In 63 chances, she committed only four errors.
Lindsay Ettinger, Chesapeake-AA
Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger gave her the ball only against the toughest competition in Anne Arundel County, and Ettinger responded with an 11-4 season, 0.40 ERA and seven shutouts.
In 104-plus innings this season, the senior struck out 123 with pinpoint location and an array of pitches. In going 34-9 in her three seasons, she faced 1,118 batters and allowed only 26 walks. Ettinger also batted .333 on the season.
Kristin Fusco, Pallotti
The junior outfielder and leadoff hitter set the table for the Panthers, who reached the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game and finished with a 17-8 mark.
Fusco hit .519, scored 35 runs and stole 16 bases in 16 attempts. She also used her speed and good instincts to cover a lot of ground in center field, finishing with 29 putouts, one assist and one error.
Ashley Gray, Northeast
The junior pitcher made a successful return to the Pasadena school after spending her sophomore season at the Institute of Notre Dame, where she was named the Baltimore City/County Player of the Year and a first-team All-Metro selection.
Anne Arundel batters quickly learned she was back. With overwhelming power, fine location and a good mix of pitches, Gray went 15-4 with a 0.62 ERA and 162 strikeouts. The No. 5 Eagles (16-4), co-champions in Anne Arundel County, advanced to the Class 3A East region semifinals, where Gray pitching a gem but fell in nine innings, 1-0, to eventual state champion Severna Park.
Tessa Grubb, Seton Keough
The Gators' senior pitcher and team leader was able to finish what she started as Seton Keough captured an improbable Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament crown as the fifth seed.
With the team struggling at 4-6 midway through the season, Grubb led a team talk and then led by example. The Gators won their last seven games, knocking off ranked opponents Mount de Sales, the Institute of Notre Dame and Pallotti in the tournament. Grubb, a four-year starter who went 10-6 with a 1.35 ERA, opened the championship game against Pallotti with a homer and then pitched a two-hitter for a 13-1 win.
Kaila Jenkins, Severna Park
The freshman pitcher couldn't have done any better in the Falcons' playoff run to the Class 3A state championship, recording five wins and not allowing a run in 35 innings. Included was a perfect game in a 6-0 win over Mount Hebron to win the East region, a 1-0, nine-inning no-hitter against North Carroll and another 1-0 win over Calvert in the state final.
Jenkins finished her first season with a 14-1 mark and 0.28 ERA, striking out 129 batters in 97 innings. Batting third in the Falcons' lineup, she hit .418 with 23 RBIs and 19 runs.
Lindsay Lowder, Institute of Notre Dame
Always able to make something positive happen at the top of the lineup, the junior outfielder finished with a .453 batting average - .153 points higher than last season - and also had 16 steals to help the No. 14 Indians capture the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference regular-season crown.
Always getting a good jump on every fly ball that went her way, Lowder finished the season with 27 putouts and no errors in center field.
Danielle Martinez, North County
When the playoffs roll around, there's a certain comfort that comes to the No. 1 and two-time state champion Knights when their junior catcher is standing at the plate. This year, her biggest hit was an eighth-inning triple that brought home two runs in the Knights' 4-2 win over Anne Arundel County rival Chesapeake to win the Class 4A East region crown.
Martinez batted .348 with 22 RBIs and eight extra-base hits as the Knights' cleanup hitter. Her strong and accurate arm also kept opposing base runners from stealing.
Beth Mullins, North County
Two seasons have produced two Class 4A state titles for the Knights, and both started with the sophomore pitcher, who has developed a knack for coming up with her best at the most opportune time. In this year's state final - a 1-0 win over Bowie - Mullins pitched a four-hitter and scored the game's only run on a triple and error.
With her fastball, breaking ball and puzzling slow changeup, Mullins finished the season at 20-2 with an 0.81 ERA. A second-team all-Metro pick last season, she also was instrumental in the Knights' offense, hitting .337 with 15 RBIs and 17 runs.
Brittany Owen, Chesapeake-AA
The junior third baseman had stretches when she carried the Cougars, either offensively or with her often flashy defense.
Owen hit .406 with a team-high 17 RBIs to go with 14 runs and 16 stolen bases. She committed only one error in 69 chances at third base for a .986 fielding percentage. Owen was quick and flawless covering bunts and made all the routine plays.
Jessica Smith, North Carroll
The sophomore pitcher continued her dominating ways in leading the Panthers to the Carroll County title and a run in the Class 3A state playoffs. After going 9-0 with two saves as a freshman, Smith, relying mostly on fastballs and a baffling drop ball, went 15-3 with a 0.92 ERA this spring to earn Carroll County Player of the Year honors.
Some of her best work came in the state semifinal game, when she pitched eight shutout innings against eventual state champion Severna Park before losing, 1-0, in nine innings.
Chrissy Starcher, Glenelg
The senior outfielder didn't start playing softball until she got to Glenelg in her freshman year, but you would never know it by her productive career. She was a constant in the Gladiators' lineup, starting in every game but one over the course of her four years.
Mostly batting leadoff, Starcher hit .325 with 22 RBIs and 25 runs to help lead the Gladiators to a 20-1 season and a trip to the Class 2A state semifinal game. Starcher committed only one error in the outfield to finish with a .952 fielding percentage. She will play basketball at McDaniel College.
Brittany Woods, Dulaney
The sophomore first baseman joined older sister and second baseman, Dani to give the No. 6 Lions a talented combination on the right side of their infield. After hitting third in the order as a freshman and driving in 22 runs, Woods was moved to second in the lineup and she responded well hitting in front of her sister. She batted .433, scored 25 runs and had a .621 on-base percentage.
Woods went 2-for-4 and scored a run in the Lions' 3-1 win over previously undefeated Fallston in the Class 3A North region final. Her work at first base was just as valuable for the Lions. The left-handed Woods committing just two errors in 112 attempts.
Dani Woods, Dulaney
There wasn't a better pure hitter in the metro area than Woods. She hit .667 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 28 runs. The junior second baseman, a transfer from McDonogh, led the Lions to their fourth state playoff appearance and, despite a 3-0 loss to eventual runner-up Calvert in the Class 3A semifinal game, she came up with two of the team's three hits against freshman pitching sensation Megan Elliott.
Woods, also a fine fielder, was always in the middle of the offense in the Lions' 15-2 season.
Name School Class Position
Heather Donhauser Fallston Senior Pitcher
Amanda Fefel Catonsville Fresh. Pitcher
Stephanie Monte Dulaney Senior Pitcher
Stephanie Sims Glenelg Junior Pitcher
Lindsey Mueller Fallston Soph. Catcher
Kim Proctor Inst. of Notre Dame Junior Catcher
Christina Smith Pallotti Junior Catcher
Katie Grenchik Pallotti Senior First base
Shannon Conwell North County Senior Second base
Heather Bennett Mount Hebron Senior Third base
Allie Honkofsky North Carroll Junior Shortstop
Danielle Ziegler Old Mill Junior Shortstop
Emily Bolling Chesapeake-AA Soph. Outfield
Brittany Lounge Arch. Spalding Fresh. Outfield
Courtney O'Hara Inst. of Notre Dame Soph. Outfield
Jessica Taylor Mount de Sales Senior Utility
Note: Teams selected by Glenn P. Graham after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun