Returning many of last season’s top performers, Howard County baseball features a wealth of talent across the board.
Glenelg will look to defend its Class 2A state title, while several other programs, including Reservoir who made the Class 3A state semifinals last season, are looking to make the next step.
Glenelg Country is in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference, while the 12 public schools are split between the Class 2A West and Class 3A East Regions.
Glenelg, Hammond and Oakland Mills are all part of 2A West Region II. Centennial, Howard, Marriotts Ridge and Mt. Hebron are in 3A East Region I, while Atholton, Long Reach, Reservoir, River Hill and Wilde Lake make up 3A East Region II.
Regular season play begins March 21 with the final regular season games scheduled for May 8. Regional playoffs begin shortly thereafter on May 11, with the state playoffs beginning on May 19. The season concludes May 26-27 with the state championships being played at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
Here is a preview of the Howard County teams:
Coach: Scott Peddicord, fifth season
2022 record: 9-12
Top returners: Seniors Kurtis Mackenzie (P/IF), Diego Carrion (MIF) and Ryan Buecker (P); junior Aaron Lutz (UTL).
On the diamond: The Raiders are one of the most experienced teams in Howard County. Atholton lost a pair of All-County performers in Liam Snow and Tra Evans, but will look to replace that production with Mackenzie, Carrion, Lutz and several others.
Coach’s outlook: “The team is excited to bounce back this year. “We are a senior-heavy team with some quality underclassmen that will play significant roles. The team’s success will be centered around the pitching staff, led by Kurtis MacKenzie, Ryan Buecker, Shane Amato, and Alex Halbert. Diego Carrion, Scotty Vaszil, and Aaron Lutz look to be major contributors to the offensive lineup.”
Coach: Denis Ahearn, 21st season
2022 record: 10-11, Class 3A East Region I champion
Top returners: Seniors Qwynn Ahearn (C) and Carter Watson (P/CF); juniors Cadeyrn Ahearn (P/1B), Zach Harris (P/2B) and Charlie Wentker (P/OF).
On the diamond: Committed to the University of Pennsylvania, Qwynn Ahearn was one of the top power hitters in the county last season with four doubles, four triples, five home runs and 21 RBIs. Caderyn Ahearn figures to be the ace of the Eagles staff, named the Howard County Pitcher of the Year in 2021. Harris, Wentker and Watson will all provide added depth in Centennial’s rotation, as well as being key parts in the middle of their lineup.
Coach’s outlook: “We will have a solid pitching staff and a balanced lineup. Our ability to play clean defense, produce runs consistently and execute the finer points of the game are what will determine if we can take our game to the next level.”
Coach: Steve Tiffany, sixth season
2022 record: 19-5, Class 2A state champions
Top returners: Seniors Nick Duvall (P/IF) and Alfonse Dello Russo (OF); juniors: Zach LaFountain (P/IF) and Logan Puscheck (IF).
Newcomer to watch: Sophomore Nick Bilotto (P/MIF).
On the diamond: Duvall returns as the ace of the Gladiators’ staff, going 4-1 last season with a 0.35 ERA. He also was one of Glenelg’s top hitters with a .367 batting average and 27 RBIs. LaFountain displayed explosive stuff as a sophomore striking out 56 in 49 innings pitched, also hitting over .300. Both Pusheck and Dello Russo are expected to be key pieces of the lineup as Puscheck led Howard County in hits last year with 29, while Dello Russo had 27. Bilotto will be the Gladiators’ starting shortstop, also one of Glenelg’s top bullpen arms.
Coach’s outlook: “We have a very experienced and talented group of young men who are hungry to compete on the field. Our goal is to be better than the previous day.”
Coach: Chris Garber, 14th season
2022 record: 12-12
Top returners: Seniors Dylan Melton (OF/P), Connor Wilson (P/C) and Dylan Levin (SS/P); juniors Trey Miller (P/1B) and Cary Pakulla (2B).
Newcomer to watch: Sophomore Keegan Wojdon (P/C/INF)
Coach’s outlook: “The 2023 Glenelg Country School Dragons baseball team is coming off its 11th consecutive appearance in the MIAA B Conference playoffs. GCS is looking to continue its success as it is returning six starters but must replace the productivity of SS/P Brian Hammond. All-state outfielder/pitcher and UMBC commit Dylan Melton is poised to lead the Dragons in all phases of the game. Seniors C Connor Wilson and SS Dylan Levin are coming off a strong 2022 to contribute with the bat. The Dragons look to Melton, Wilson and junior Trey Miller to fill out the pitching rotation with contributions from Levin and newcomer Keegan Wojdon. The defense will be strong up the middle anchored by Wilson, Levin and Melton.”
Coach: Casey Medairy, 11th season
2022 record: 7-10
Top returners: Seniors Aidan Harris (SS/P), Braedan Bzdewka (P), Chase Endres (C), Nicholas Wilk (INF/OF) and Daniel Rodriguez (P).
Newcomers to watch: Juniors Kevin Barry and Paul Hughes.
On the diamond: Harris headlines the Golden Bears’ returners, named first-team All-County last hitting .404, also striking out 40 in 26 innings. Bzdewka and Rodriguez headline Hammond’s pitching staff, while Wilk provides power to the lineup with two home runs last season.
Coach’s Outlook: “Our defense was strong last year and it got even stronger. Our pitching staff is older and we have more pitchers with varsity experience than we did last year. These guys have a history of being tough and capitalizing on late-game opportunities. Our team managers have been working a lot to prepare for this season as well. Their in-game analysis has proven useful and we plan to implement more of that.”
Coach: Scott Anderson, first season
2022 record: 7-10
Top Returners: Seniors Nathan Black (P/3B/LF), Drake Sherman (CF) and Zach Yankle (LHP).
Newcomers to watch: Freshmen Brennan Giangrasso (P/3B) and Austin Proescher (P/C).
On the diamond: Black was named first-team All-County last season and led the Lions with a .383 average, also stealing five bases. Sherman should serve as the anchor of Howard’s defense in the outfield, while Yankle will be one of the Lions’ top rotation arms going 4-2 last season.
Coach’s outlook: “We are a young team with a new coaching staff that is hungry for success. We’ll be fundamentally sound and compete day in and day out. We have a nice mix of senior leadership and young talent and look forward to competing against the best.”
Coach: Anthony Lyon, second season
2022 record: 9-8
Top returners: Senior JP Tennant (P); sophomores Aidan West (SS) and Seth Rosenfeld (MIF).
Newcomers to watch: Junior Brian Heimiller (C).
On the diamond: Long Reach returns the majority of its team, graduating just three seniors last year. West and Rosenfeld both excelled in their first varsity seasons last year, as West, a North Carolina State commit, was first-team All-County in 2022, leading the county with 15 stolen bases. Tennant and Noah Murdock are expected to lead the Lightning’s pitching staff, with a trio of juniors in the outfield that should help Long Reach field a strong defensive team.
Coach’s outlook: “Long Reach will still be a young team amongst its competitors, this year graduating three seniors. JP Tennant, Jacob Hall and Carlos Jimenez make up the Lightning’s class of 2023. Entering the season, the Lightning are looking to build upon the success of last year’s season, finishing a game above .500 in county and having beaten some of the top teams. The goal is to be better than last year and go further in the playoffs. Stacking wins and winning the week is what this team believes in. Winning a state title for the first time in school history is what they’re chasing. The key is getting hot at the right time and if the Lightning can manifest that, the sky’s the limit for this young team.”
Coach: Paul Eckert, 17th season
2022 record: 12-9
Top returners: Seniors Logan Anderson (P/OF) and Adam Macfarlane (P/OF); juniors Luca Obitz (OF/P) and Chase Kamerman (P/SS); sophomore Jonah Obitz (C).
Newcomer to watch: Junior Jack Coughlin (P/IF)
On the diamond: Jonah was named second-team All-County as a freshman, one of the Mustangs’ top hitters with a .378 average. Anderson, Macfarlane, Kamerman and Coughlin give Marriotts Ridge a deep pitching staff.
Coach’s outlook: “We hope to be better in April than we are in March and better in May than we are in April. Pitching and defense will determine the team’s success. The team has experience; it will be a matter of executing. It is a nice group of boys with good leadership.”
Coach: Aaron Wilson, second season
2022 record: 10-11, Class 3A East Region I finalist
Top returners: Seniors Brandon Arnold (P/INF), Sam Kelly (C), Tyler Goladay (1B), Dean Stoehr (OF), Nick Hutchinson (OF), Jake Friedman (OF) and Chris Park (INF); junior Mike Brogno (P/INF).
Newcomers to watch: Juniors Will Cucuzzella (P/1B), Joe Lee (P/INF), Lucas Edwards (INF), Nick Duda (OF) and Phil Prasartkarnka (OF).
On the diamond: Brogno was a first-team All-County selection last season with a .424 average and two home runs, also excelling on the mound with 1.59 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Arnold and Kelly each hit over .300 last season as well, while the Vikings have depth and position battles in both the infield and outfield.
Coach’s outlook: “After finishing the year strong with five straight wins before losing to Centennial in the county championship, the outlook is super high for the Vikings this year. We’re bringing back a solid group of starters, highlighted by Mike Brogno, Brandon Arnold, Tyler Goladay Sam Kelly and Dean Stoehr, who have all been starters for the past two years. We should have one of the best rotations and defenses in the county this year. It will come down to how well our bats are able to step up and if the offseason and preseason are key indications, we should put up some solid numbers offensively this year. I’m looking forward to another great season with a great group of guys.”
Coach: Jack Cheney, second season
2022 record: 1-17
Top returners: Senior Brian Kaiser (C); junior Luke Maloy (P); sophomore Mark Small (P/OF).
On the diamond: The Scorpions will look to Kaiser, Maloy and Small to lead the way after losing Roman Mastramico to graduation, who was named second-team All-County last season.
Coach’s outlook: “Last year’s season is definitely a season we want to leave behind us. After taking over the program last year, I knew there was going to be some growing pains. We had a few tough losses that should have gone the other way. It seems that last year’s team, at times, had a hard time closing out the game when the lights got bright. I truly believe that this year is going to be a huge step in the right direction. I think the growing pains that we experienced have been sorted through, and everyone is on board with our new system. As long as we have the willingness to get better each day, and the willingness to learn from our mistakes, I truly believe we can put ourselves in position to have a successful season.”
Coach: Adam Leader, 21st season
2022 record: 19-5, Class 3A state semifinalist
Top returners: Seniors Quinn Dean (SS) and Jack Lloyd (RHP).
On the diamond: The Gators will look to replicate some of the production lost with 2022 Howard County Times Player of the Year Ben Davis’ graduation. Dean will be an integral part of Reservoir’s lineup hitting .407 as a junior, while Lloyd will be a key rotation piece finishing last season with a 3-1 record and 1.76 ERA.
Coach’s outlook: “After losing a lot of starters last year, we expect our returners to lead our new players in preparation for the season. A lot of great young talent on this team. Experience will be key. I am excited about the talent of this team.”
Coach: Craig Estrin, second season
2022 record: 16-4, Howard County champion, Class 3A East Region II finalist
Top Returners: Seniors Eje Okojie (P/OF) and Demetre Koutras (P/1B/OF); junior: Henry Zatkowski (P/1B)
Newcomer to watch: Anderson Dang (C)
On the diamond: Okojie and Koutras were both named all-county last season, with Okojie named first team. Okojie hit a team-leading .433, while Koutras also excelled with a .350 average. Zatkowski, a Duke Commit, last season’s Howard County Pitcher of the Year is the Hawks’ ace posting a 6-0 record in county last season with 0.65 ERA in those starts.
Coach’s outlook: “The county is always very tough, very competitive. Any team can beat any other team on any given day. We like our experience, and we will need it to compete against all the very good teams in Howard County.”
Coach: Steve Fredrick, fifth season
2022 record: 5-13
Top returners: Seniors Peter Keating (P) and Brady McGonigal (C); juniors: Derek Fermaint (CF/P) and Andrew Varga (SS).
Newcomers to watch: juniors David Carroll (IF/P) and Zach Curtin (IF/P).
On the diamond: Varga was named second-team All-County last season as a sophomore and will be one of Wilde Lake’s leaders in the lineup this season. Both Carroll and Curtin will add further depth to the Wildecats’ pitching and infield depth.
Coach’s outlook: “This group has the talent and experience to be the most successful team I’ve coached in my five years at Wilde Lake. Seven players on this roster of all upperclassmen saw varsity playing time as ninth or 10th graders. Keating and Fermaint form a strong duo that will lead the pitching staff. McGonigal at catcher, Varga at shortstop and Fermaint in center field make us very strong up the middle. Offensively, a nice blend of speed and power can be found throughout the lineup.”