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Howard County Spring Junior Varsity programs create strong foundation

Howard County Spring Junior Varsity programs create strong foundation
Hammond's Kenneth Rios, right, gets off a shot for a goal with Long Reach's Devin Lemuel just missing a stick check on the play during a junior varsity boys lacrosse game at Long Reach High School on Thursday, May 4. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Every story has a beginning and for many of the high school athletic stars of tomorrow, that beginning often includes a year or two laying the foundation for success as a member of a junior varsity team.

This spring was no different, as freshmen and sophomores around the county honed their skills and built relationships alongside their peers through participating in practices and games.

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In an effort to provide these athletes with some deserved recognition, we contacted each school through their athletic administration to find out about some of the highlights and top performers from the spring season. Here's what we heard back:

Boys lacrosse

Atholton was much improved this spring, finishing with an 8-4 record under first-year coach Mark Falcon. After going 5-6 a year ago, the Raiders started 4-0 this season and rode that momentum the rest of the way.

"It was a special season and it was a bond that could not be broken," Falcon said. "I had 30 guys on the roster, but this was a unique roster in that I had a sophomore-heavy team, several freshmen, and about five kids who never played lacrosse ever before."

Two of the team's biggest victories came right out of spring break, with Atholton defeating both Mt. Hebron and River Hill by a score of 6-5.

Centennial had a standout season, finishing with a record of 8-3.

The offense was led by freshman Connor Carpenter on attack. "He always had the top defender on him. He wanted to have the ball in his stick to initiate the offense for our team," coach John Spade said.

Other standout on offense were John Bossom, Andrew Brillante and Shawn Kruhm. The defense was led by goalie David Gostomski and defenders Peyton Sites and Jason Kraisser.

A season-opening win against Marriotts Ridge was among the season highlights for the Eagles. The team was down by four goals at halftime but rebounded to win the game, 7-6.

It was an undefeated county season for Glenelg, which went 7-0 in league play and 11-2 overall. A late-season 10-7 victory over Broadneck was among the highlights according to coach Jeff Shear. "We played as a cohesive team against them and we pulled together to win," he said.

Face-off midfielders Mason Davis and Rohan Bhatnafar were instrumental to the team's success, as was the play of goalie Tino Campanile.

Howard finished the season 6-1 in county play and 7-5 overall thanks to an exceptionally strong second half of the season after a slow start.

"It was a tough group of kids, starting the season 1-5 and then finishing 7-5," coach Matthew Hanson said.

Sophomore captain Henry Frazier IV was the team's leading offensive player from his midfield position. Freshman midfielder Ethan Mitchel was another standout, as was sophomore goalie James Peters.

Mt. Hebron's final record was 1-6 in county play and 2-10 overall, but it was a resilient group that played a lot of tight games. Among those close contests was a 9-8 overtime defeat against Marriotts Ridge where coach Michael Tittsworth said his team showed tremendous fight, bouncing back after an early three-goal deficit to force a tie by the end of regulation.

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The Vikings' victories came against Arundel, 8-6, and Reservoir, 8-1.

"Our schedule was not very forgiving, and I am very proud of how we were able to take our lumps and continued to get better as the season progressed," Tittsworth said. "We refused to carry any baggage after a loss. By the end of the season, I was impressed with our collective development as lacrosse players and as fine young men."

Team captains Joey Hayden, Evan Hemelt, Jake Krell, Brian Laymon and Kevin Pak led the way for Mt. Hebron. Freshmen Jack Callaghan, Evan Carneal, Grayson Fleck, Kevin Watts and Dylan Wolf, meanwhile, were strong compliments for that sophomore leadership.

It may have been a 3-9 season for Oakland Mills, but the Scorpions did finish the season on a high note with one of their best efforts of the season on the way to a victory.

"Heading into our last game of the season, I told the boys to throw our record out the window and play this last game like it was the championship game," coach Matthew Nelson said. "They rose to the occasion and played the most complete game of the season, upsetting our division rival Wilde Lake."

Dallas Jones and Patrick Jones were the offensive leaders for Oakland Mills, while it was a team effort in front of a first-year goalie who made great strides to finish the year with a save percentage over 50 percent.

Punctuated by a season-ending overtime victory over Centennial, during which Ethan Brown scored the winning goal, River Hill finished with an 8-4 record in county play (8-5 overall).

Kurt Bentson was a team captain, the Hawks' leading midfielder and also their top goal scorer. Kurt Lawrence, meanwhile, was also a captain and served as River Hill's top defender that led by example.

With a roster of 14 players, nine of which were in their first year, Wilde Lake came together to finish with a 5-6 record.

Nathan Cho, a first-year goalie, made more than 10 saves a game and was named the team's MVP. On the other end of the field, Nick Varela led the Wildecats with 15 goals and there was tremendous support provided by Justin Daugherty (14 goals) and Han Chung (14 goals).

Freshman midfielder Issac Farmer and Jarrett Monah improved greatly over the course of the season and controlled both ends of the field. Freshman attack Adam Blair was a leader on offense, while defensive leaders were Russell Dixon, Louis Coleman and Kaeleb Jones.

Girls lacrosse

Atholton featured a team filled with new players and ended up finishing the season with a record of 4-8. But there were great strides throughout the year.

"By the end of the season I was able to see huge improvement," coach Sarah Walker said. "We face some really great schools, but no matter what happened the team always had their head up and stayed positive."

Madison Park and Lindsey Van Der Meid were leading players on attack, finishing as the Raiders' leading scorers. On the other end, Lindsay Plotkin and Kassidy Kerrigan anchored the defense. "They were able to communicate effectively, block players from reaching the goal and take the ball back up field," Walker said.

It was a .500 season for Centennial, which finished with a record of 6-6. Carolina Pelligrini, Sarah Toth and Sam Suhkre held down the midfield, while goalie Chandler Worthy showed great improvement and delivered several game-saving stops to protect leads.

"The girls really came together for their wins and played some beautiful lacrosse throughout the season," coach Katelyn Striebich said.

Glenelg had a standout season, going 6-1 in county play and 9-2 overall. Ironically, it was in the team's two losses — against Marriotts Ridge and Severna Park — that coach Chris Beil said his girls grew the most.

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"They allowed us to see what we need to work on for next year and both of those games went back and forth," Beil said. "I am most proud of the girls versus Severna Park as we were down 5-0 at halftime and we battled back to tie them in the second half. Unfortunately, we didn't pull it out but I was proud of how the girls dealt with adversity."

The Gladiators finished the year with 117 goals and 96 assists, while giving up just 35 goals against.

Sophomore captain Jordyn Shumaker finished second on the team in goals (22) and first in assists (21). Freshman Kelsey Morali led the team in goals with 27. Lucy Loazer and Carson Dillard stood out on the draw after sophomore captain Rachel Montgomery tore her ACL early in the season. Freshman goalie Callie Anderson also stepped up following an injury to starter Maddy Maloney in the middle of the season.

Alex Anderson, Gabby Steinberg and Lizzy Hesen led the Glenelg defense.

There were lots of positives this spring for Hammond, which finished with an overall record of 5-7. Along the way there were close losses to Long Reach, Centennial and Reservoir, while also some exciting wins against Meade and Wilde Lake.

"We are so proud of the girls for their hard work and dedication throughout the season," coach Laurie Lovaas said. "We had a few returning players from our 2016 season get pulled up to varsity, which gave the opportunity for other players to step in and contribute in new ways. We saw the team come together throughout the season and continuously build each other up both as players and individuals."

Freshman Abby Richards led the attack, scoring the most goals on the team. Sophomore captain Hana Bramble led the midfield in both draw controls and transitions, while sophomore captain Krupali Daya anchored the defensive unit with Freshman Mia Stott — who grabbed the most interceptions.

Freshman Karina Joseph stepped up in goal, despite being new to the position, and delivered when the team needed her.

Long Reach finished the season with an overall record of 5-5 (2-5 in county play). Haley Forman was the team captain and a star defensive player for the Lightning, leading through contructive feedback and motivation.

Madison Wong was the team's center midfielder, finishing as a leading scorer, while Tiffanie Choi was another midfield/attack that contributed consistently. Another offensive standout was attack Becca Tu.

"All four of the girls were fantastic on and off the field," coach Carly Gratton said.

Gratton added that the biggest highlight of the season was winning the team's last game in double overtime against Hammond. Choi scored the winning penalty shot in that game.

Marriotts Ridge rolled to an undefeated record in Howard County and Anne Arundel County play this spring, going 11-0 in those games. The only game the team lost came against McDonogh by one goal.

There were tons of highlights, including exciting wins over Glenelg and South River.

"This team was relentless. On game day, the girls played from the first whistle to the last whistle of every game with a very high level of intensity," said coach Thomas Brandel. "I was very lucky to have a great group of girls on our team who came to practice every day and competed with one another. I am really proud of how every girl on the team improved throughout the season and how much fun we had as a team."

Sophomore Jessie Burd was a team co-captain, with her twin Katie and led the team with 36 goals and 10 assists. Sophomore Gracie Virden added 26 goals and 10 assists, while sophomores Amanda Levey and Clare Reynolds were the team leaders in assists with 18 apiece.

Sophomore Jenna Kohler and freshman Emma Miller played critical roles on the team as well, winning over 90 percent of the draws on the season to help gain critical possessions.

Sophmore co-captain Katie Burd and sophomore Julia Fratta led the defense in front of sophomore goalie Brianna Galt, who made key saves in the team's closest games. Overall, the defensive group secured three shutouts and had a 2.6 goals against average on the season.

Mt. Hebron had eight returning players, along with 13 new freshmen, and showed lots of growth throughout the year. The Vikings ended up finishing 5-2 in county play and 5-6-1 overall under first-year coach Mark De Bels.

"Overall, it was a successful season with each player growing substantially in their individual skills as well as team play," said De Bels.

The team had an extremely balanced offense, with 14 different players scoring at least once and eight scoring five or more goals. Kaylee Triplett and Julia Aldred, who led the Vikings in assists, were the leaders in terms of play calling and directing things on the field. Freshmen Kaitlyn Milauskas, Sophia Smith and Anna Romanskaya each stepped right in on attack as well, finishing with at least one multi-goal game. Romanskaya finished second on the team with 12 goals.

Kate Fleck, Chae Wilson and Olivia Minnich anchored the midfield unit. Fleck led the team in ground balls, Minnich led the way in draw controls and Wilson had a team-high 13 goals. Zoe Perna, Mackenzie Strozyk and Caroline Pearce were other strong contributors in the midfield.

Emily Coliano, who led the way in forced turnovers, and Julia Hood were the leaders of the defense. Paige Sine and Natalie Goodwin rounded out the starting unit in the back. Anna Hofmann, despite being new to lacrosse, served as the team's goalie and finished with a save percentage over 40 percent despite going up against top competition every game.

Among the season highlights was a 7-5 victory for Mt. Hebron over rival Howard.

Kiana Wambui leads her Oakland Mills teammates in handshakes following their junior varsity girls lacrosse game against Long Reach at Oakland Mills High School on Tuesday, May 2.
Kiana Wambui leads her Oakland Mills teammates in handshakes following their junior varsity girls lacrosse game against Long Reach at Oakland Mills High School on Tuesday, May 2. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Oakland Mills started the season with nine straight losses, but kept working and ended up finishing the year with three consecutive victories.

"We started our season counting goals — we are known to be an 'underdog' on the field," coach Steven Satterfield said. "However, this young team — many of whom had never picked up a stick — was highly coachable and readily developed the skills necessary to challenge some of the best teams in the county."

Kiana Wambui stepped up midseason to assume goalie duties and developed into one of the team leaders. "Her confidence and leadership is unmatched. She is a born goalie and readily took to the new position," Satterfield said.

Diya Biswas was another top player on the team, using her versatility to play a number of different positions on the field. She was one of the team's leading scorers.

Reservoir finished with a record of 4-8 overall after coming into the year with only eight players that had prior lacrosse experience before this spring. "All in all, we were pleased with our overall improvement," coach Wendell Thomas said.

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Sophomore Sooah Park finished as the Gators' leading scorer with 25 goals, while freshman Abby Bond was the leader in assists with 14. Bond also added six goals of her own.

Sophomore Caileigh Sullivan, meanwhile, was a leader from the goalie position as one of four team captains and finished with 96 saves.

Other standout players on defense were freshmen Maria Newell and Rianna Nunes. Nunes transitioned to become one of the team's top midfielders during the season, scoring a pair of goals on the year.

In addition to Sullivan, the other captains also played key roles. Sophomore Becca Jackson (six goals and an assist) took most of the draws, sophomore Kelly Rothermill (six goals and five assists) fought through a midseason injury, and sophomore Grace Lee was a major scoring threat with totals of 16 goals and six assists.

In addition to lacrosse, the Reservoir team also had memorable experiences making a trip to watch a Naval Academy women's lacrosse game against Loyola and also participating in a community service event at Sunrise Assisted Living.

River Hill put together a standout spring campaign, posting a final record of 7-3-2. "Overall, this team proved to work well together, work hard and had a lot of fun," said coach Carly Brunett.

Sophomores Jules Grasso and Maggie Kurdle, along with freshman Caroline Healy, were the top goal scorers for the Hawks. But sophomore Kat Spurrier and freshman Sara Sharp, were just as important while setting up the go-to-goal players.

Sophia Elguera and Jessie Lala were first-time lacrosse players that contributed consistently, while midfielders Adrianna Zakel, Jamie Caine and Madison Dzubek were excellent two-way players on offense and defense.

The defense worked well together as a unit, with Maggie Okeefe, Ashlee Hamer, Carly Angel and Greta Kluckhuhn starting in front of Rosh Patel in goal. Kelly Key and Brigdette Rodell were two freshmen that made an impact on the defensive end as well.

Among the season highlights, according to Brunett, was River Hill's final game against Centennnial. The team, which played two-men down for most of the second half, stuck together and controlled the speed of the game and was able to maintain possession.

Atholton's RJ Drucker races ome to scare a run during a JV baseball game against Glenelg.
Atholton's RJ Drucker races ome to scare a run during a JV baseball game against Glenelg. (Photo courtesy of Beth Duvall Goldstein)
Baseball

It was a strong year for Atholton, which finished with a 10-5 record in county play.

Noah Alper led the offense with a .405 batting average, including three doubles and 29 stolen bases. Eric Diehl, meanwhile, was an all-around threat that had a strong spring at the plate, driving in 13 runs.

Brian Weinberg pitched 19 innings, compiling a 0.37 ERA and winning three games before being pulled up to varsity late in the regular season. Andy Boulle was the team's best all-around defensive player, starting games at third base, shortstop, second base and center field. Boulle batted .250 with 11 RBIs.

"Our team really came together this year and rallied around each other," coach John Engelkemier said. "We had big wins against Reservoir twice, and a come-from-behind, extra-inning win at Mt. Hebron which was by far the most exciting win of the season. We were able to beat some teams like Glenelg the second time that we lost to the first time around. This shows how much progress we made and how hard our kids worked."

Centennial finished the year 8-7, getting some big wins along the way. An extra-inning victory over Long Reach was among the highlights, with the Eagles trading leads several times with the Lightning before going ahead for good in the top of the eighth inning. Pitcher Tyler Hart then shut the door on the victory in bottom half of the frame.

Overall, Hart and Ryan Cavey were the top two pitchers for Centennial, while Matthew Durkee was the team's defensive anchor at shortstop. Sophomore Muhammad Arsalon, in only his second year playing baseball, was the Eagles' offensive spark according to coach Ron Pusloskie.

With a great mix of sophomores and freshmen, Glenelg finished with a record of 11-5 this season.

"The sophomore class did a good job, as most of them were on JV for the second straight year. Our freshmen got adjusted to high school ball and made some great strides," said varsity coach Steve Ballance. "The future continues to look bright."

Sophomores Camden Renehan and Darren Cleary were each consistent contributors, while freshmen Ben Duignan and Kyle Duncan stepped right in and made an immediate impact.

Overall, the Gladiators had two three-game winning streaks to go along with one four-game winning streak. The team scored 101 total runs, while allowing just 65.

For Hammond it was a strong season that saw the team come ready to work from the very beginning. The Golden Bears finished with a 5-9 record, but the success of the year went far beyond wins and losses.

"All the wins were so hard fought and I could not have asked for anything more of my team," coach Tim Brown said. "I will say that from the moment the team was announced and we had our first practices and game, my players showed a strong will to be the best they could be every day. Due to this work that they put in, all of them improved tremendously."

Freshman Tim Styker was a strong lefty pitcher, consistently throwing strikes in his six games on the mound. Freshman Asa Roberson was a strong center fielder and spark for the offense from the lead-off position. Nick Weidorfer, meanwhile, was a sophomore who transitioned from third base to first base and didn't miss a beat. He led the team with eight doubles on the season.

The Howard JV baseball team, which finished with a record of 17-0, huddles together at the end of game this spring.
The Howard JV baseball team, which finished with a record of 17-0, huddles together at the end of game this spring. (Photo courtesy of Farshad Kassiri)

For the second straight year, Howard had the county's top JV baseball team. This spring, the team went 16-0 in county play and 17-0 overall — outscoring the opposition 209-35 along the way.

The offense was held under eight runs only twice all season, defeating River Hill 3-0 and Reservoir 6-1. Overall, the team finished with a combined .410 batting average and a .502 on-base percentage. Making the Lions even more dangerous was the fact that they were 66 of 67 on stolen base attempts.

On the other side of the ball, the pitching staff held every opponent to six runs or fewer. The 11 pitchers on the staff combined for a 2.50 ERA in over 98 innings of work. Sophomores Jerry O'Neill, Austin Foard and freshman Chris Horn anchored what was a three-man rotation. O'Neill was the team leader in wins (five), while pitching to a 1.75 ERA in 28 innings with 45 strikeouts. Foard was just as impressive, also posting a 1.75 ERA, and Horn finished second on the team in innings pitched (22.1). "It is huge being able to give the ball to any three of these guys knowing they will give our team a chance to win each game," coach Johnny Jackson said.

Offensively, sophomore center fielder Zach Marshall led the way as a table setter at the top of the line-up. He finished with a .568 batting average, a .644 on-base percentage, a team-best 23 runs scored and went 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts.

Freshmen outfielders Nate Howell (.484 average, 9 RBIs) and Will Simmons (.395 average, 16 RBIs), along with freshman utility man Alex Campbell (.516 average, 13 RBIs, 11 runs), were immediate contributors in their first year with the team. Then sophomores Cameron Morris (.450 average, 18 runs, 15 stolen bases, 13 RBIs), Danny Prevost (.412 average, 15 RBIs, 3 triples, 2 home runs) and Ben Burnstein (.371 average, 14 runs, 11 RBIs) did their part to help make the Lions one of the league's most powerful offensive teams.

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In addition to the success on the field, Howard also succeeded in the classroom with 16 of the 20 players on the roster finishing as Honor Roll students this spring.

Bouncing back after a slow start, Long Reach won four of its last seven games to finish this spring with a 5-11 overall record.

"With nine of our 14 players being freshmen and me being a first-year coach, it took some time to form our team identity," coach Kenneth King said. "Once we figured it out — aggressive offensively, aggressive on the bases, sound defensively — we really started to come on strong in the second half."

Jack Grote, who hit in the middle of the line-up, was one of the team's standouts on his way to posting a .316 batting average for the season. One of his highlights was a bases-loaded double against Centennial in the seventh inning to force extra innings during the final week of the spring.

Blake Fleischer was another standout. He hit for a .321 average and also was a top pitcher that led the Lightning to its first win of the season against River Hill.

"Overall my team was gritty, tough and full of heart," King said. "Going forward, Long Reach High expects nothing but improvement as the new coaching staff continues to put its stamp on the program."

Marriotts Ridge had a standout spring season, losing just once on the way to a 16-1 overall record. The Mustangs also won the Arundel JV tournament over spring break.

The team took advantage of its strong pitching, with Ryan Lee, Tyler Vandenberge and Aaron Chiu leading the way. The offense was a standout group as well, with Cole Brown and Nick Hogan each hitting for a batting average over .400 and finishing with 19 RBIs.

"We knew early on that we could have a very successful season with many returning sophomores," coach Josh Molnar said. "After getting down early in each of our first three games, we showed a lot of heart to come back to win each one. As the season progressed we were able to improve each week and keep everyone on the roster involved."

There were significant positive strides this spring for the Oakland Mills program, picking up its first two county wins in over seven years. The team finished with three victories overall and showed improvement every step of the way.

"Our goal this year wasn't just to win games, it was to win games as a team and have fun," coach Brandon Sanders said. "Having fun is the most important thing and I do believe we reached our goal. After every game the opposing coach came up to us and said how much we have improved."

Sophomore pitcher and first baseman Ben Atkins led the group of standout players for Oakland Mills, serving as a leader at the plate and in the field. He also added 22 steals. "Ben was the voice and the heart of our team. He never gave up and kept our team motivated each day," Sanders said.

Other stars were catcher Ahsan Kersey and Luke Lawrence, who spent time at pitcher, shortstop and third base.

After an up-and-down spring, Reservoir finished 8-8 in county play and 10-8 overall.

"We had a rollercoaster of a season that included a little bit of everything — great wins and tough losses, but around every corner was a coachable moment to help us get better in the long run," said coach Zachary Nunn.

The team put together a strong double-header performance to win the Gaithersburg tournament, including beating host Gaithersburg in the opening game to avenge a loss in the championship contest from a year earlier. The Gators then bounced back from an early 5-0 deficit in the championship game against Paint Branch to earn a 10-5 win.

"Our freshmen class proved that we have an exciting future ahead of us," Nunn said.

Softball

Centennial finished with a 9-7 record while being led by the sophomore pitcher-catcher duo of Bethany Firebaugh and Carolin Harvey.

Behind that leadership, along with the support of fellow sophomores Nasia Lawton, Anesia Bakir and Natalie Willard — in addition to the impact play of freshman Camryn Desai — the Eagles were able to bring along their less experienced players very quickly.

"These sophomores stressed and focused on the basic fundamentals of hitting and fielding. As a result, several first-year players — including standout co-MVP first baseman Esther Kim and second baseman Erin McGuire — were able to jump right in and fill their roles as if they were seasoned veterans," said coach Jarrett Emery. "The rest of the team, thanks to the focus on fundamentals, was able to complete a successful season both at the plate and on the field."

Led by captains Luci Vallor, Catie Jones and Megan McKenzie, Glenelg finished 11-4 in county play and 11-5 overall. Hannah Hill also pitched well all season.

In addition, there were standout plays made over the course of the year by Grace Hills, Sydni Rivero, Catie Jones, Megan McKenzie and Emily Miller. Coach Michelle Oland said her the Gladiators learned a lot during the season, including how to manufacture runs and bunting.

"Overall the team came far in a short amount of time. They showed a tremendous grasp of the game," Oland said.

Hammond finished the season with a record of 6-8 in county play and 6-9 overall.

Returning players Alexis Walker, a standout catcher, and Haley Rice, who saw time at shortstop and first base, served as team leaders.

Strong freshmen contributions also came from Jenna Dietrich and Erika Goodwin, who had an inside-the-park home run this spring. Both players were "strong defensively, consistent at the plate and excelled at base running," according to coach Maria Ferraro.

Additionally, pitchers Brooke Hunley and Erika Goodwin were consistent and got better as the season went on. Other players to watch going forward are Keisean Brown, Marisa Evans, Grace Hartley and Kaili Ferguson.

Ferraro also recognized Kylie Hazel as the Golden Bears' most improved player, as she was new to softball but got better every day to help contribute to the team.

"The team has grown tremendously this past season. We had several players that had never played softball and improved their playing as each day went by," Ferraro said.

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Among the season highlights was a come-from-behind win against River Hill by a score of 14-13, where the team scored several runs in the sixth and seventh innings despite playing shorthanded.

Howard was among the county's top teams this spring, compiling a record of 14-1 in county play and 14-2 overall.

"We had a young team. Out of the 12 players, we only had three sophomores," coach Jennifer Neugebauer said. "I was very pleased with the skill set the girls played with. They were very supportive and encouraging of one another."

Freshman Mary Wagenblast led the team with a .615 batting average, and nearly hit for the cycle in a game against Atholton on March 31. She saw time at pitcher, centerfield and first base this spring.

Another standout was freshman Kaleigh Hoffman, who finished with the second-highest team batting average (.571) and led the team with 27 RBIs. She transitioned defensively from third base to first base, providing the team with a very reliable player.

Sophomore captains Sierra Larson and Maddy Klapp were huge keys as well. Larson was the lead-off hitter and primary shortstop, posting a batting average of .564. Klapp was the primary catcher for the Lions, throwing out six runners and picking off another three. She also finished with 26 RBId on offense.

Neugebauer said she was proud of her team in both of its losses — against Chesapeake and Marriotts Ridge — for the resiliency they showed and for playing to the last out. She also pointed to an exciting win against Centennial, where the team played shorthanded and got the game-ending out on a play where centerfielder Maddie Moroney threw a runner out at home.

Long Reach finished 10-5 for the second year in a row thanks to an all-around team effort, which included five returning players and eight first timers on the squad.

Sophomore pitcher Taela Conlan and sophomore second baseman De'aja Green set the tone for the season.

"Our captains did an awesome job of setting a foundation and level of competitiveness that all the girls adjusted to," coach Kudzai Dzimiri said. "As a coach, the standard from last year was already set and the girls did an awesome job of maintaining that tempo and rhythm throughout the course of the season."

Other notable field players include shortstop Amanda Holden, catcher Laylah Snowden, utility player Sophia Goldberg, first baseman Lindsay Hall and left fielder Ari Briggs-Hall. Loryn Yeager, Laura Linne Von Berg, April Jones, Minjee Um, Victoria Miller and Aaron Adger also made big plays on offense and defense.

There were lots of competitive games, but a back-and-forth match-up against Centennial was right at the top of the list. The Lightning were down going into the bottom of the last inning, but with runners on first and second Conlan delivered a 2-RBI hit to win the game 15-14. "At that moment, I knew that this team was special," Dzimiri said.

Other standout efforts included a 9-7 victory over Reservoir.

The Marriotts Ridge JV softball team, which finished undefeated in county play this spring with a record of 15-0, poses for a picture together.
The Marriotts Ridge JV softball team, which finished undefeated in county play this spring with a record of 15-0, poses for a picture together. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

Marriotts Ridge finished as the only undefeated team in county play this spring, going 15-0 in league play and 15-1 overall. It was the second straight dominant campaign for the program, which had only a tie against Howard last season keeping it from another perfect county record.

This year, the Mustangs scored 273 total runs, which averages out to more than 17 runs a game. Michaela Hartigan (.722 average, 32 runs, 19 RBIs) and Tyler Colburn (.711, 32 runs, 14 RBIs) served as the table-setters for the powerful offensive attack. Then Jessica Hinkle (.649 average, 27 RBIs, 28 runs), Allison Choi (.657, 29 runs, 21 RBIs) and Lauren Mellstrom (.528 average, 24 runs, 20 RBIs) led the way in runs batted in.

Holly Cochran and (.586 average, 19 runs, 12 RBIs) and Olivia Goering (.515 average, 23 runs, 19 RBIs) also had standout offensive seasons.

In terms of pitching, Goering (6-0), Cochran (4-0, 56 strikeouts) and Hinkle (5-1, 26 strikeouts) formed a dominant trio.

"Everone contributed in one way or another and the team really played well together and accepted the roles that they were asked to play," Marriotts Ridge coach Renard Parson said.

Mt. Hebron was inexperienced and took the opportunity to try some new things in the early going, but as the season went on the team showed great growth. The final 2-12 record was not necessarily indicative of how much progress the team made.

The offense was an area of strength, with the Vikings going from averaging six runs per game during the first half of the season to over 12 runs per game down the stretch. As a team, Mt. Hebron hit for just under a .400 batting average.

Jenna Barclay (.514 average, 12 RBIs) and Maddy Wyscarver (.513 average, 21 runs) were the leaders, but other big contributions came from Izzy Feeney (.500 average) and Grace Hendricks (.302 average, team-leader in extra-base hits).

Natalie Rosenquist and Victoria Iveljic shared the bulk of the pitching duties, combining to strike out 51 batters on the season. Kylie Hill was a standout at first base, while Ashlee Arena adapted well to playing catcher. Mandy Kirkbride was the most consistent outfielder and Juliet Bosilovich excelled as a utility player that saw time at pitcher, infield and outfield.

Zara Mahmood, Leah Watson and Tajah Flowers were on the field for the first time but still made contributions. Flowers and Watson each hit a double for their first career hits.

"Win or lose, we had a great time … in the dugout, on the field, on the bus or getting ice cream, there was always smiling, laughing and some singing," coach Bob Gibbons said. "A good time was had by all."

Reservoir finished with a 6-7 record, but coach Kyle Jacobs said the wins and losses were not an accurate representation of the fight his team showed. "They fought through some tough games. They came together as a team and played through injuries and adversity," Jacobs said.

Taylor Davis and Zoe DeGuzman were stellar outfielders that excelled both in the field and at the plate. Hannah Davis, Haley Adams and Leah Dixon kept the team in games through solid infield play and clutch hitting.

Sunnah Brooks established herself as the every day catcher, while Trinh Tran, Emma Richmond and Angela Sheaffer combined to handle the pitching duties.

Esha Bhatti, Emily Palmerton and Saneia Tariq each improved significantly, contributing between second base and outfield.

"This really was a great group of girls who practiced and played hard all year," Jacobs said. "It was an absolute pleasure coaching them."

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