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Howard County baseball senior spotlight

Members of the Howard County baseball senior class (clockwise from top left) Atholton's Benji Thalheimer, Centennial's Zach Steen, Howard's Alex Campbell, Mt. Hebron's Magnus Dunn, Reservoir's Daniel Elliott and River Hill's Casey Finkelston.
Members of the Howard County baseball senior class (clockwise from top left) Atholton's Benji Thalheimer, Centennial's Zach Steen, Howard's Alex Campbell, Mt. Hebron's Magnus Dunn, Reservoir's Daniel Elliott and River Hill's Casey Finkelston.

The announcement officially canceling the spring sports season for Maryland public schools as a result of the coronavirus pandemic means the realization of an unfortunate reality — the high school careers for an entire senior class of athletes has come to a premature end.

In the history books, there will be no county, regional or state champions for the 2020 spring season. All-County honors will not be awarded for the first time in decades.

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Still, the absence of athletic contests does not diminish the fact that the 2020 senior class of spring athletes merits recognition. With that in mind, we reached out to all of the area programs to get information on their respective senior classes.

We are running the packages featuring each of the spring sports over the next week. Here is the release schedule:

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Thursday, May 21: Boys Lacrosse

Friday, May 22: Girls Lacrosse

Monday, May 25: Baseball

Tuesday, May 26: Softball

Wednesday, May 27: Tennis

Thursday, May 28: Track

BASEBALL

Atholton starter, Benji Thalheimer works against Howard in the fourth inning. The Raiders hold on for a 5-4 win over host, Howard Wednesday afternoon in Ellicott City.
Atholton starter, Benji Thalheimer works against Howard in the fourth inning. The Raiders hold on for a 5-4 win over host, Howard Wednesday afternoon in Ellicott City.

Atholton has five multi-year starters graduating this spring and there were eight seniors overall on its roster, as the team looked to build on a strong 2019 season.

“It is unfortunate to lose the 2020 season with all of this leadership and the mix of young talent in the program,” Atholton coach Scott Peddicord said. “Last year this group was at the core of Atholton’s run to the 3A East regional championship game.”

Benji Thalheimer and Zach Geesaman were each first-team All-County performers a season ago and had been voted to the 2020 preseason all-state team. Thalheimer, who posted a 0.53 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work at pitcher as a junior, will play at Salisbury next year. Geesaman, meanwhile, is a standout at catcher who posted a .354 batting average to go along with 14 RBI, six doubles and four home runs in 2019 and is also headed to play baseball at Salisbury.

Mikey Burton is a three-year starter in the infield who will be playing baseball in college at Virginia Wesleyan. Chris Bookter was the team’s starting centerfielder last year and stole 10 bases, while Tony Puciloski was a starting right fielder and starter on the mound who went 3-0 pitching as a junior.

Other seniors include relief pitchers Andy and Mike Orlosky, and designated hitter Joey Duckhorn. Andy Orlosky and Duckhorn also saw time in the outfield.

Centennial's Zach Steen watches a hit to the outfield, resulting in a run scoring double, in the first inning against Long Reach during a playoff baseball game at Long Reach High School on Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Centennial's Zach Steen watches a hit to the outfield, resulting in a run scoring double, in the first inning against Long Reach during a playoff baseball game at Long Reach High School on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

It was a relatively small senior class this spring for Centennial. Of the four graduating players on the roster, four-year varsity starter Zach Steen was the leader of the group. Steen was a pitcher and infielder for the Eagles and will play at Bloomsburg University next year. He hit for a .424 batting average in 2019, while adding 20 RBI and seven doubles, and also pitched a gem in the playoffs against Reservoir last spring.

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Liam Wood and Sean Cutick were each slated to take on a larger role on the pitching staff this spring, while Caleb McClatchey had been penciled in by coach Denis Ahearn as a starting outfielder.

“This group of 2020 Seniors were some of the most resilient and determined players I have had in a long time,” Ahearn said. “Each of them faced their own form of adversity and each of them worked hard to excel despite that fact. They set a great example for the underclassmen and will be greatly missed.”

Chapelgate's Nate Morse sprints home to score a run against Beth Tfiloh during a baseball game at Blandair Park in Columbia on Thursday, May 3.
Chapelgate's Nate Morse sprints home to score a run against Beth Tfiloh during a baseball game at Blandair Park in Columbia on Thursday, May 3. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Chapelgate had three seniors — Jackson Meyer, Nate Morse and Vin Park — on its roster.

Meyer saw time at first, second and pitcher and was being counted on for his leadership along with Morse, who showed toughness from his catcher position. Park, meanwhile, is a three-year varsity player who was set to see time at first base.

Glenelg third baseman Eddie Dello Russo throws across the diamond to force out a Reservoir opponent at first base during a baseball game at Glenelg High School on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.
Glenelg third baseman Eddie Dello Russo throws across the diamond to force out a Reservoir opponent at first base during a baseball game at Glenelg High School on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

There was a great mix of talent, leadership and experience among the eight-player senior class for Glenelg.

“This was a special group of young men that demonstrated leadership on and off the field,” Glenelg coach Steven Tiffany said. “They will be truly missed, and we hope for nothing but the best as they move forward in life.”

Eddie Dello Russo was set to become a four-year varsity starter at third base and pitcher, having struck out 18 batters in 22 innings as a junior. Matt Porter, who has been on varsity since he was a sophomore, would have been a top pitcher (2.76 ERA in 2019) as well and batted in the middle of the lineup. Connor Leard also starred at pitcher and at the plate, hitting .290 last season and scoring 15 runs.

Cooper Sancomb is a defensive standout in centerfield, TJ George provided versatility in a number of different positions, and Alex Lawson is another three-year varsity player who was set to contribute at first base and pitcher.

Other seniors for the Gladiators were Taylor Eisentraut and Ben Duignan, who were each showcasing the ability to contribute in a number of different areas.

Glenelg Country School's Kyle Arnold takes a throw from pitcher Marcus Khademi to double up Mt. Carmel's Jaden Jackson off second to end a fifth inning rally. The Dragons use a four run sixth inning to defeat visiting Mt. Carmel, 8-4 in Ellicott City.
Glenelg Country School's Kyle Arnold takes a throw from pitcher Marcus Khademi to double up Mt. Carmel's Jaden Jackson off second to end a fifth inning rally. The Dragons use a four run sixth inning to defeat visiting Mt. Carmel, 8-4 in Ellicott City. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Of the six seniors for Glenelg Country this year, five were four-year members of the baseball program and all of them have been around for the last three seasons. Since 2017, this group has helped the Dragons to a .670 winning percentage.

“They played a huge role in ensuring that our team was multi-dimensional and extremely diverse,” Glenelg Country coach Christopher Garber said. “Not only did they work extremely hard to make our team a success on the field, but they made sure they excelled off the field and had an influence on many diverse aspects of the Glenelg Country experience. They clearly epitomized the role of a student athlete and made us all proud of these young men.”

Kyle Arnold was a standout at second base, making just four errors and turning six double plays in 2019 while also stealing 21 bases on offense.

Jake Schiller also brought tremendous speed to the team, excelling in left field and also at second base, while finishing his career with 46 stolen bases and 38 runs scored. He finished second on the team in on-base percentage and third in batting average in 2019.

Kevin Gamble was the leadoff hitter for the Dragons last year and earned All-MIAA B Conference honors. He finishes his career with 44 stolen bases and 42 runs scored.

Alejandro Flores-Chevere, Luka Madhok and Robby Robinson were also all instrumental to the team in different ways, making the most of practices and playing time to be able to contribute when called upon.

Hammond's Brandon Eschman (6) in action during a boys high school baseball game between Hammond and Wilde Lake in 2019.
Hammond's Brandon Eschman (6) in action during a boys high school baseball game between Hammond and Wilde Lake in 2019. (Daniel Kucin Jr. / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Hammond had a senior class of seven players filled with both experience and potential.

Colin Kosakowski was a returning second-team All-County performer, who hit for a .392 batting average to go along with six doubles in 2019 as the team’s leadoff hitter. Brandon Eschman is a four-year varsity player who has seen time at both infielder and pitcher, throwing 22.1 innings last season for the Golden Bears on the mound. Tim Stryker was also one of the team’s top returning pitchers, striking out 21 batters in 21.2 innings as a junior to go along with a .292 batting average.

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Adam Rodriguez was another strong pitcher with a lot of movement, while Brandon Porter is headed to continue his baseball career at CCBC Essex as a player with a lot of versatility that was ready to break out on the mound.

Speedy outfielder Jacob Dreikorn and catcher Jake Williamson were each set to see increased roles as well as seniors for Hammond.

Howard's Will Simmons connects for a two-run triple in the fourth inning. Howard takes a 12-2, five-inning win over visiting Century Tuesday afternoon in Ellicott City.
Howard's Will Simmons connects for a two-run triple in the fourth inning. Howard takes a 12-2, five-inning win over visiting Century Tuesday afternoon in Ellicott City. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Howard had eight seniors on its roster this spring, including three captains in Alex Campbell, Shayan Kassiri and Will Simmons.

Campbell was a first team All-County selection in 2019, building on second-team selection the year before, and the shortstop hit for a .418 batting average with 18 runs scored as a junior. Simmons made second-team All-County last year after hitting .381 with 23 RBI and 27 runs scored, while Kassiri was preparing to be the team’s starting catcher. Simmons is heading to play baseball at Stevenson University.

Cole Robinson was set to take over second base this spring, Nate Howell had showcased himself as a great defender at first base, and Chase Eberwein was poised to be one of the county’s fastest players on the base paths and in centerfield. Trent Crumback was driving the ball to the gaps in the preseason from the middle of the batting order, and Jarrett Maynor was going to provide plenty of quality innings on the mound thanks to a great mix of fastballs and curveballs to keep hitters off balance.

Long Reach's Alex King (13) is congratulated by teammates Sam Haley (2) and Tyler Moore (3) after scoring a run during a playoff baseball game at Long Reach High School on Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Long Reach's Alex King (13) is congratulated by teammates Sam Haley (2) and Tyler Moore (3) after scoring a run during a playoff baseball game at Long Reach High School on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Long Reach had been building toward this season with a senior group of five players with plenty of experience.

“This senior class is very special to the Long Reach coaching staff, as they were our first four-year class,” Long Reach coach Brian Wyman said. “Our staff started in 2017, and these guys embodied what we envisioned from our players. They are full of heart and passion for the game of baseball and we will miss them dearly.”

Centerfielder Alex King is a two-year captain and had a .315 career batting average since being a staple in the outfield from the time he was a freshman. He was on the MSABC Futures team his sophomore and junior seasons, hitting .333 with 14 runs scored in 2019.

Patrick Schwab was set to step into the starting catcher position, filling in for fellow senior catcher Justin Banks as he rehabbed back from shoulder surgery. Banks had been the starter behind the plate the last two years.

Matt Faulkner is a three-year starter for the Lightning who has seen time at shortstop and pitcher while hitting near the top of the lineup, showcasing a similar versatility to another senior John Smithson who was going to split time between third and first base.

Marriotts Ridge baserunner, Cole Rosenthal emerges from the dust after a stolen base. Marriotts Ridge defeats Mt. Hebron, 5-4 Tuesday afternoon in Ellicott City.
Marriotts Ridge baserunner, Cole Rosenthal emerges from the dust after a stolen base. Marriotts Ridge defeats Mt. Hebron, 5-4 Tuesday afternoon in Ellicott City. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

There were only three seniors on the roster for Marriotts Ridge, but they all were going to be key pieces in helping the Mustangs try to be one of the top teams in the area again this spring.

“This senior class helped us to another winning season last year as juniors,” Marriotts Ridge coach Paul Eckert said. “They kept us in the hunt for the county championship for a good portion of the season. I would like to have seen them get to compete as seniors to be able to add to their legacy.”

Justin Woodbury was hitting his stride as a team leader when the season was postponed, smacking three hits in the team’s lone scrimmage. Woodbury, a potential ace on the mound, hit for a .357 batting average to go along with 13 stolen bases and 15 runs scored as a junior.

Conor Edwards was slated to be a starter in the outfield and a solid addition to the rotation, while Cole Rosenthal is another outfielder who possesses a great mix of speed and strength.

Mt. Hebron starter Jimmy Jaecksch works against Marriotts Ridge in the first inning in 2019.
Mt. Hebron starter Jimmy Jaecksch works against Marriotts Ridge in the first inning in 2019. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

With one of the county’s largest senior classes of nine players, including reigning Howard County Player of the Year Magnus Dunn, Mt. Hebron had all the makings of a county, region and state title contender this spring.

“This class is the hardest working class I've ever had. They had huge goals for this season and did everything since last year's season ended to ensure those would come true,” Mt. Hebron coach Brian Culley said. “They did everything I ever asked them to do and collectively were the best teammates they could be. Their impact on the program has been tremendous. They have paved the way for the future players to come through. They are all very good baseball players and students, but the part that will be the toughest to replace is the caliber of young men that they are. All nine of them are special people.”

Dunn, who is headed to play next year at Washington University in St. Louis, was one of Howard County’s best hitters and pitchers as a junior — posting a .433 batting average to go along with a 1.29 ERA while striking out 62 batters in 27 innings on the mound.

Jimmy Jaecksch was a first team All-Counter performer as well last year as an outfielder, hitting .426 with 15 RBI, and he will be going to play at CCBC-Catonsville.

Other returners with loads of experience were standout pitcher Finnian Devine and shortstop Dylan Holzman. Devine went 5-1 on the mound last year, while Holzman is a four-year varsity player who hit .310 with 10 RBI and 14 runs scored as a junior.

Jason Van Tine (pitcher, infield and catcher), Ben Kelly (third base and pitcher), Anthony Marcelli (outfield and pitcher), Ethan Joseph (outfield) and Nick Greco (catcher and infield) all had shown great flashes during the preseason that they were ready for expanded roles with the Vikings on offense and defense.

Oakland Mills had seven seniors on its team, looking to help the team build on a nine-win season in 2019.

First baseman Anderii Brown was the Scorpions’ offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after hitting for a .300 batting average to go along with 23 RBI. Alex Stokes, meanwhile, was poised to be the team’s workhorse at pitcher after throwing over 20 innings as a junior and also a contributor in the outfield.

Lukas Lawrence was getting set to be a third-year starter between shortstop and pitcher.

Paul Lebert (third base/outfield) was much improved in all areas, Tanner Malinowski possesses a great glove and quick hands at second base, Christian Turnbull was going to contribute at pitcher and second base, and Savon Warren was going to provide leadership from the outfield thanks to his tremendous speed.

This Senior class is special and I couldn't be more proud of them. The amount of work each of these players has put in to make them better players and people is incredible,” Oakland Mills coach Matthew Sillers said. “Each year our record continued to improve and this group played a major role in that. What I love about this group of kids is not only their work ethic but their positive attitudes. They are the type of group that pick each other up on and off the field. I am saddened that their senior season has been cut short on the field but have full confidence that each of these individuals will go on to do great things in their future.”

Reservoir's James Michael Musser catches a fly ball in center field for the out against Howard.
Reservoir's James Michael Musser catches a fly ball in center field for the out against Howard. (Nicole Munchel For Baltimore Sun / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Reservoir featured eight seniors, including 2019 first team All-County selection Daniel Elliott. The 2020 preseason All-State selection who is headed to play at Christopher Newport, Elliott had a county-leading .470 batting average at the plate and also had a 0.75 ERA as a pitcher last season.

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But the Gators had a plethora of other talented returners as well.

EJ Sweet was a second team All-County first baseman as a junior after hitting for a .340 average and Nick Helmick was right there with him in terms of production at the plate as an outfielder and pitcher who hit .354.

Bradley Davidson was 5-0 as a starting pitcher with a 2.80 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 2019, while catcher Ryan Green (Wilson College) and outfielder/pitcher JM Musser (Elizabethtown) are each heading to play baseball in college.

Third baseman Owen Bailey and catcher Roger Thibaudeau were each expected to be consistent contributors as well for Reservoir.

River Hill's John Koutras reacts after scoring the game winner on a bases loaded single off the bat of teammate, Casey Finkelston in the bottom of the seventh. River Hill rallies from a 10-1 deficit to take an 11-10 walk-off win over visiting Centennial Wednesday afternoon in Clarksville.
River Hill's John Koutras reacts after scoring the game winner on a bases loaded single off the bat of teammate, Casey Finkelston in the bottom of the seventh. River Hill rallies from a 10-1 deficit to take an 11-10 walk-off win over visiting Centennial Wednesday afternoon in Clarksville. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Of the eight seniors for River Hill, six featured past starting experience on varsity and the duo of Casey Finkelston and Woody Lynott were coming off second-team All-County campaigns in 2019.

Finkelston is a three-year varsity starter in the infield who hit .315 with 24 runs scored as a junior, while Lynott is a two-year starter who hit .422 with seven doubles and 22 RBI last season.

Third baseman Alex Elliott, who is headed to play at CCBC next season, was another big middle-of-the-order bat who hit for a .352 average and drove in 20 runs a year ago. Outfielder John Koutras is a two-year starter with tremendous speed, Andrew Qian started most of the Hawks’ game at catcher as a junior, and Shaun Davis is a two-year starting pitcher that posted a 2.52 ERA and a 4-2 record in 2019. Davis will play baseball at Rochester Institute of Technology next year.

Three-sport athlete Bryan Smith (second base/outfield) and Gabe Lancaster-Dixon (first base/designated hitter) were each slated for bigger roles this spring.

“This senior class has been outstanding for River Hill,” River Hill coach Wes McCoy said. “Their hard work and dedication has left an indelible mark upon the program and set a high standard for future baseball players at River Hill.”

There were three seniors for Wilde Lake, including team captains Andrew Brock and Kharrington Walker. Brock, an infielder, hit for a .310 average for the 2019 regional finalist Wildecats, while Walker was set for a breakthrough season after serving as a reserve outfielder as a junior.

Kim Schindeler, a second baseman and exchange student from Amsterdam, is the third senior for Wilde Lake and she was committed to the program from the day she arrived at the school. A member of her national team in Amsterdam, Schindeler had her season cut short when her exchange student organization “made the decision to shorten the duration of the program so that students can return to their families in their home countries,” according to Wilde Lake coach Steven Fredrick.

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