Chloe Sharman, a South Carroll junior, led the Cavaliers to one of their most successful seasons to date in 2017.
Chloe Sharman played just about every position on the softball field before finding comfort in the pitcher's circle.
She was playing for the Winfield Sting under-10 team, at age 10, when her father and coach, Joe, approached her about stepping in to the pitching position. There was no one available to take the spot at the time, she said.
Rather than get nervous at the thought of filling such a prominent position, Sharman accepted it with ease. Over time, she learned to block out any surrounding distraction and continued to perfect her game.
"I stuck with it, had a niche for it and I ended up liking it," Sharman said. "I started at a pretty basic level and moved up ... It's been my whole life and I've been working at it. It's my happy place — if I have a bad day, it just goes away for a little bit when I'm on the field."
Sharman led South Carroll's softball team to one of its most successful seasons to date. The Cavs went 18-6 and captured their first county title in 35 years en route to making their first state title appearance. Sharman's 171 strikeouts led the county, and she ended her junior campaign with a 1.88 ERA en route to being named Times Softball Player of the Year.
Sharman's poise and dedication kept the Cavaliers motivated from the get-go.
"It makes me feel absolutely fantastic," Sharman said. "We had the same goal from the start, to work that hard and achieve something you had in mind is amazing. Personally, I had some goals for myself and I had goals for the team. One of them was to get to states because that's always the goal, to make first team, be player of the year, maybe break a record. It feels great that all that hard work, not even from just this season but from my childhood paid off."
Sharman moved to Carroll County from Laurel when she was 5 years old and her parents got her started in tee-ball. When playing for the Sting, she learned how to play infield and outfield before making the move to pitcher. She played for the Maryland STARS travel team until age 15, and last year her Minnesota Sting 16-U Gold team made an appearance at the Premier Girls Fastpitch Nationals in California.
She calls herself a perfectionist — her father agrees.
"She has the ability to perfect things," Joe Sharman said. "She wanted to become the best pitcher she could to help her team ... She wanted to be good at that position so she was like a sponge, she soaked up as much information as she could about the position. She has an appetite to succeed in whatever she tried. Pitching was no different than any other position, she wanted to play and be the best at it."
Marlee Carroll, Sharman's teammate and best friend, said Sharman was a great team leader for the Cavaliers. Coach Matt Cannistraci chose to not have specific team captains this season and it gave juniors like Sharman the chance to lead when it counted.
"Her pitching every game is amazing and really helps us out a lot," Carroll said. "On defense, we're always there to back her up and do whatever we needed to do to help us win. Chloe's very motivated and when she is motivated, so is the rest of the team."
Sharman played a big part in South Carroll's impressive postseason run. She overcame a rocky start against Century in the Class 2A West Section 2 semifinal and held the Knights to three hits over the final five innings while her teammates chipped away at a 5-0 deficit. SC won 6-5 on a two-run single in the seventh.
Two days later, Sharman shut out Liberty and scattered five hits in a 1-0 victory, which led the Cavs to their extra-inning win over Catoctin in the regional final. Sharman struck out eight in SC's 2-0 win over Southern-Anne Arundel in the state semifinals, getting her team to the title game before North Caroline prevailed.
Sharman is already committed to play softball at the West Virginia Institute of Technology and has one more year of prep softball left to play. This season was a memorable one for the hurler and she already has the bar set for her senior year.
"I think we were really tired of everyone just overlooking us," Sharman said. "We hadn't won anything in a really long time…We never really have a lot of people come to our games or really talk about us or know what's going on even. We were just tired and wanted to make a stand to show people we're a lot more than just those people on South Carroll."