There are no Cal Ripkens in the world of high school athletics.
For almost 20 years, the Baltimore Orioles could count on Ripken for about 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and steady defense.
High school coaches have no such luck.
Coaches must deal with major roster turnover each year, but this year is a whopper. Of the 18 players named all-county last year, 15 have graduated and all nine first-team players have moved on to college.
The only all-county players coming back are Centennial junior hitter Trisha Mockapetris, Glenelg defensive specialist Shannon Long and Hammond libero Maddie Chervenak, who are both seniors.
Centennial coach Larry Schofield, whose team went undefeated in league play last year and fell one game short of winning its second state title in three years and 15th overall, has to move on from graduating the 2009 Player of the Year in Liz Brown and the Sam Brostrom, the 2010 Player of the Year.
River Hill, last year's county runner-up, and Mt. Hebron, the third-place team, were also hit hard. The Hawks graduated first-teamers Sarah Okey, Megan Rosburg and Melody Nazari and the Vikings lost all-county players Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola, Maddy Birus, Holly Hynson and Katie Huston.
Despite the loss of talent, most county coaches believe the balance of power hasn't shifted tremendously — perennial powers Centennial and River Hill prove the saying "tradition never graduates" and will once again be in the mix for the county championship.
"The rising sophomores are pretty strong across the county," Schofield said. "We lost (some) of the top players in the state, so obviously there will be a drop off, but the balance is better overall."
New players will have a chance to rise to the top this year and some schools that have struggled in the past could be more competitive.
Long Reach, for example, won its first league match on the last day of the regular season last year, but may be positioned for a breakthrough campaign with club veterans Alison Dorsey (79 kills, 35 blocks), Cailin Fredrickson (100 kills) and setter Shelby Fredrickson back on the court.
Marriotts Ridge, which lost in the state tournament last year for the second season in a row, brings back Robin Laux and her 151 kills, the only returning player among the top 10 in that category last year.
And Howard, which finished fourth in the league, brings back sophomore Sydney Biniak, who had 41 blocks as a freshman.
Here is a look at each team as the season begins:
2010 record: 3-10 county, 3-12 overall
Coach: Dave Decker, fifth season
Returning starters: four
Top players: Seniors Amanda Goodspeed (MH) and Vashti Burke (L); juniors Naomi Burke (S), Natalie Alper (OH) and McKay Evans (OH).
Scouting report: After winning just three matches last year, the Raiders are looking for a bounce-back campaign more in line with 2008, when they finished 11-6. The return of Vashti Burke, who was sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament last year, should make Atholton a solid defensive team. Rachel Burke, Vashti and Naomi's older sister, led Reservoir to the state finals in 2006. Goodspeed and Evans give the Raiders a pair of six-footers on the front line.