Softball: The poll

Sun staff

1. Chesapeake-AALast season // 23-3, ranked No. 1

Outlook // The defending Class 4A champion Cougars have Metro Player of the Year Lauren Gibson returning to the mound to go with a potent lineup and reliable defense in their bid for another title.

2. BroadneckLast season // 19-3, No. 3

Outlook // Sophomore pitcher Kourtney Salvarola was sensational last year, leading the Bruins to their first Anne Arundel County title before falling to Chesapeake in the regional finals. Is this the Bruins' year?

3. Archbishop SpaldingLast season // 15-5, No. 4

Outlook // The Cavaliers have a mix of returning talent and promising newcomers, and might be the early favorite in a wide-open Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

4. NortheastLast season // 18-7, No. 8

Outlook // While Chesapeake and Broadneck are the frontrunners in Anne Arundel, the Eagles aren't that far off, with pitcher Heather Brown and catcher Lizzie Wedell leading the way.

5. HammondLast season // 23-1, No. 5

Outlook // When last we left the Golden Bears, they were celebrating the program's first Class 2A state title when Stephanie Speierman threw a perfect game. The junior returns to lead Hammond's bid to repeat.

6. In. of Notre DameLast season // 17-6, No. 6

Outlook // With six starters returning, the Indians will look to solid defense and improved offense to offset the loss of standout pitcher Colleen Matthes, who has graduated.

7. FallstonLast season // 12-7, unranked

Outlook // The experienced Cougars have a strong one-two pitching punch in senior Megan Gravell and junior Val Strawbridge, with a talented lineup to provide plenty of support.

8. Seton KeoughLast season // 15-3, No. 2

Outlook // The defending IAAM champion Gators graduated the program's most prolific class, but they have enough experience and talented newcomers to contend.

9. C. Milton WrightLast season // 16-5, No. 11

Outlook // Under new coach Russ Kovach, the Mustangs are stockpiled with enough experienced talent to have a say in the challenging Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

10. Severna ParkLast season // 16-5, No. 12

Outlook // New coach Meredith McAlister, a 1999 Severna Park graduate, was a standout shortstop, and the Falcons have another talented one in senior Jen Haag to put them in contention in Anne Arundel County.

11. CentennialLast year // 18-3, No. 10

Outlook // The Eagles were hit hard by graduation but have enough talent to make a run at the Howard County title.

12. Mount de SalesLast year // 7-12, unranked

Outlook // The Sailors have a commodity few teams in the IAAM possess - experienced pitching. That should help turn the seven one-run games they lost last season into wins.

13. North CountyLast year // 14-8, No. 13

Outlook // With a talented trio of sophomore pitchers still finding their way, the Knights will count on strong defense and making things happen with aggressive work at the plate and on the bases.

14. FranklinLast season // 15-4, unranked

Outlook // The Indians, who reached the Class 3A state semifinals last spring, could be the team to beat in Baltimore County, with junior pitcher Jordan Eades leading the way.

15. CenturyLast season // 15-8, unranked

Outlook // After two straight state semifinal appearances, can this be the year the Knights get over the hump and make the title game?

Others considered // Eastern Tech (14-6, unranked), John Carroll (10-7, No. 7), North Carroll (13-8, unranked), Old Mill (7-13, unranked).

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