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Howard County Times
Howard County Sports

Howard County Sports Q&A: Marriotts Ridge field hockey junior Sophia Baxter

In a couple short years, Sophia Baxter has established herself to be one of the best field hockey players in Howard County.

As a freshman on Marriotts Ridge, she was called up from junior varsity and was a contributor on a Mustangs team that won the Class 2A state title. Then, as a sophomore, Baxter was a first-team All-County defender. This past spring, Baxter finished the season with two goals and five assists, including a game-winning score in overtime against Glenelg.

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Baxter, who is a captain for Marriotts Ridge this fall, recently had a conversation with reporter Jacob Meyer to discuss her game, the Mustangs’ team, playing during COVID and more:

Q: When did you start playing field hockey, and what other sports did you play growing up?

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A: I started playing field hockey in first grade. Soccer was the first sport I played when I was little. I also played basketball and swam growing up, and of course lacrosse, which I still play now.

Between girls lacrosse and field hockey, which is your main sport, and what do you like about each sport?

Field hockey. Growing up, I always liked it better. I played club lacrosse and club field hockey until eighth grade, and then I quit club lacrosse to do field hockey more. And for what I like about each sport, I like how they’re both fast paced. Field hockey, there’s no offsides or anything so it’s fun with that. Being a defender, you can carry the ball all the way up the field and score. But with lacrosse I also like the more settled defense and ball movement.

What was your freshman season like, starting on JV and ending as a state champion?

It was a great experience. I was glad I got to experience JV and the players on that team, because obviously I play with them now and we have that connection from freshman year. It was great playing with the seniors that year. They were really welcoming, and they made it an easy transition.

What did you learn from that senior class?

They were really good leaders. They stepped up and took charge. They’ve taught me to help out the new players and make sure to include everybody. Our younger class really looked up to them, and they were a great example of how we should be as leaders now.

Maisy Clevenger was also called up that year as a freshman, and she went on to score the game-winning goal in the state championship. What was it like going through that season with her?

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Honestly it was cool to go through it with someone else getting pulled up. I think we both look to each other on the field a lot more now because of our experience freshman year. I think it just made us work together better. With me being on defense and her being a forward, it’s a great dynamic between us.

What did you learn about yourself last year during COVID?

I think what I learned about myself is that I really do need field hockey. It gives me that structure of practice and games. It keeps me focused. During the pandemic, not having it was tough, like it was for a lot of people. It was definitely hard to stay motivated since there were no games to look forward to. But we had Zoom practices and Zoom calls, and my club coaches sent us workouts and drills to do. That helped me get through it until the normal practices and games started back up.

Marriotts Ridge is once again expected to be one of the top teams in Howard County. What is the key for your team this season?

Our chemistry and working together. In our first couple of scrimmages, we lacked that, but in our first game we really played together. We could definitely do good things, but we need to focus on the game ahead of us and play our game. Obviously, having Natalie Freeman [Garrison Forest transfer] come in was really helpful. I’ve known her for a really long time. And I’ve known a lot of the girls on the team for a really long time because we grew up playing together. All of the starting players have so much potential, we just need to find that rhythm and play well.

Your brother, Jack (Class of 2020), was an All-County defensive lineman at Marriotts Ridge. As a defender in field hockey, you play with a fearless, physical mentality. Do you see any similarities between you and your older brother as athletes?

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Growing up, I watched Jack play a lot of sports. Football and field hockey are completely different games, but the aggressiveness and drive is similar between us. Growing up, we were really competitive. My whole family is really competitive. Game nights get intense. But it’s been nice to have someone like Jack to look up to.


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