Coach: Dave Vitagliano, fourth year
1990 record: 7-13 overall, 4-10 county
Returnees: Seniors: Kerri Hibbard (C), Amy Shellenberger (3B), Stacey Worden (2B), Dana Quill (OF/DH), Suzanne Sealing (RF); Juniors: Julie Ruprecht (SS), Amy Lorditch (P), Erin Shepherd (LF), Liz White (1B).
Newcomers to watch: Senior: Sherri Carl (CF); Junior: NicoleMulcare (1B/OF).
Coach's outlook: "If we play the way we've played offensively and defensively in the first two games, I think we can go .500 in the county. We're a better hitting and defensive team thanlast year."
Howard County Sun outlook: The Raiders have a fine nucleus in Ruprecht, Shellenberger and Hibbard. If Lorditch comes through with a decent year, Atholton should find itself with at least 10 victories and a regional playoff berth.
Coach: Dale Huting, fifth year
1990 record: 17-4 overall, 11-3 county
Returnees: Seniors: Julie Parham (CF), Lindy Mellendick (P); Junior: Becky Joeckel (RF); Sophomores: Kelli Butler (SS), Kari Chichester (C).
Newcomers to watch: Senior: Lisa Taneyhill (3B); Juniors: Corina Rissmandel (2B), Rebecca Vanisko (1B), Jenny Cichon (2B); Sophomore: Tiffany Bowers (OF); Freshman: Kathy Gallagher (OF).
Coach's outlook: "Our biggest strength defensively is our outfield, and the infield will come along as we play more games. Offensively, we'll be stronger than usual. I think we'll be one of the better teams, if not from the beginning, then after we're a couple weeks into the county season."
Howard County Sun outlook: The loss of Jodi Meitl will hurt theEagles come playoff time. Against the county, though, they still have enough talent to be second-best to Glenelg.
Coach: Chuck Struhar, third year
1990 season: 20-2 overall, 14-0 county
Returnees: Seniors: Tracy Martin (C), Jodi Brown (1B), Angie Beech (2B), Kristen Dressel (LF), Beth Thurston (3B/OF), Shannon McCartney (CF); Juniors: Lisa Martin (P/3B), Tanissa Dorsey (RF); Sophomore: Lory Wineman (SS).
Newcomers to watch: Junior: Kathy McKelvey (IF/OF); Sophomore: Joy Younce (OF); Freshmen: Karyn Duff (3B), Jodi Kielman (OF/IF).
Coach's outlook: "There's nothing magic to this. We're going to bunt, run, steal, move runners along, catch the ball. I think the kids know what it takes to win. I think we're as good as anybody else around here."
Howard County Sun outlook: Make that better than anybody else around here. The Gladiators' potent mix of speed and sound fundamentals will make them awfully tough to beat. Unless Lisa Martin experiences major physical problems on the mound -- andthat's unlikely -- the county title is Glenelg's to lose.
HAMMOND GOLDEN BEARS
Coach: Dave Guetler, seventh year
1990 record: 5-12 overall, 4-10 county
Returnees: Seniors: Jen Thomas (P), Emily Minah (1B), Mary Sly (SS); Juniors: Megan Wheeler (C), Cory Eberhart (OF); Sophomore: Kelly Waggoner (1B/OF).
Newcomers: Junior: Amy Hanlin (3B); Sophomores: Jennifer Garlick (2B), Becky Snyder (CF), Ashley Scott (RF); Freshmen: Amy Nestor (C), Casey Reeves (LF).
Coach's outlook: "We're definitely going to be better than last year. If Jen'son, we're going to be in good shape. I think we can finish in the top half of the county and make the playoffs."
Howard County Sun outlook: Thomas is one of the top players in the league, and a great season on the hill could turn Hammond into a contender. The Bears are loaded with newcomers who will start. That might hurt them early, but from the middle of the season on, Hammond could be a dangerous team.
Coach: Dave Vezzi, fifth year
1990 record: 7-10 overall, 6-7 county
Returnees: Seniors: Andrea Nolan (P), Holly Stover (SS); Junior: Meredith McKissick (2B); Sophomores: Sharon Ford (CF), Patty Miller (1B), Kerri Semmont (3B), Tarah Principato (LF), Terri Townsley (C).
Newcomers to watch: Junior: Krista Fulton (DH/IF);Freshman: Emily Moore (OF).
Coach's outlook: "I've got a real positive outlook on the season. For the age these kids are at, I think we're going to be a real good team. I don't see any real weaknesses wehave to work on. Even though we're still young, we've got a chance to contend for the county championship."
Howard County Sun outlook:The Lions are an interesting team. They were surprisingly competitive despite starting five freshmen last year, and eight starters are back. In addition, Fulton, one of the top athletes in the school, joinsthe varsity as a designated hitter. If Nolan's pitching holds up, Howard will contend and make the playoffs.
MOUNT HEBRON VIKINGS
Coach: Harry Reese, first year
1990 record: 4-15 overall, 3-11 county
Returnees: Seniors: Dawn Thomas (P), Joann Liberto (3B), Linda Colder (OF/P), Jen O'Neill (2B/SS); Juniors: Angie Kress (SS/C); Chris Boone (1B).
Newcomers to watch: Sophomores: Brandee Eckstrom (C/OF), Sandy Lewis (OF/IF); Freshman: Chris Milio (OF/DH).
Coach's outlook: "We have a program that's back off the ground again. I look for good things from the people we have back from last year. There's enough talent and softball smarts for us to win. If we put the right people in the right places, we'll be OK."
Howard County Sun outlook: The Vikings could be the surprise team of the county. They've got the league's deadliest hitter in Thomas, who figures to give them a fine pitching effort as well. Liberto is another top-notch all-around player who will shoulder the offensive load. Losing catcher Melissa Murdza for the season to a knee injury will hurt, but Hebron could be the team mostly likely to spoil someone's season. A .500 season is not unlikely.
OAKLAND MILLS SCORPIONS
Coach: Joe Adams, ninth year
1990 record: 8-8 overall, 8-6 county
Returnees: Seniors: Jenny Smith(1B), Cheri Ashbaugh (C); Junior: Sara Briscoe (P).
Newcomers to watch: Senior: Karen Carroll (RF); Juniors: Marti Wiblin (3B), Lisa Oaksmith (SS), Karaina Lantzky (CF), Dawn Scarlis (LF), Courtney Williamson (LF), Kim Leighty (CF/LF); Sophomores: Heather McFarland (P/RF), Maura Gallagher (2B), Elizabeth Stier (2B), Julie Lapert (OF).
Coach's outlook: "I've got a lot of inexperienced players who are going to make a lot of young mistakes. We stress defense and pitching, but right now we're not fundamentally sound."
Howard County Sun outlook: The Scorpions suffered the heaviest graduation losses, as seven starters departed. Then another moved out of the state. Then another decided not to play. That leaves Oakland Mills with basically a team of girls promoted from last year's 17-0 junior varsity. How that translates into varsity success remains to be seen, but the Scorpions arestruggling.
WILDE LAKE WILDECATS
Coach: Christine Myers, second year
1990 record: 3-15 overall, 3-11 county
Returnees: Seniors: Christie Flowers (SS); Tanya Auguston (LF); Juniors: Nicole Hammond (P), Nikki Krupp (CF); Sophomore: Shelly Ryan (C).
Newcomers to watch: Junior: Sara Wolkowitz (3B/LF); Sophomore: Tammy Petersen (1B/3B/OF); Freshmen: Micaela Finnegan (2B/RF), Laurel Strichartz (2B/OF), Adina Eckstein (2B/RF).
Coach's outlook: "We're a very young team.We know what to do in practice, but we're still panicking on the bases. By midseason, we'll be competitive."
Howard County Sun outlook: The Wildecats return five starters from last year's last-place team. If Hammond continues improving on the mound, Wilde Lake should win a few more games. But they won't escape the second division.
1991 SOFTBALL PREVIEW
NOTE: SEE MAIN STORY (LAST YEAR'S DARK HORSE IS THIS YEAR'S TEAM TO BEAT)