THB, Banditos, Wayward and more confirmed for Cosmic Cocktail!

Teams gird for tough competition in softball select league

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Larry Alvis says he has two of the "best-kept secrets" in the county playing for his Chesapeake Chargers softball team in pitchers Rachel Synowski and Jaime Long.

But word -- like the opposing batters that each girl faces -- is getting out.

Synowski of Archbishop Spalding High and Long of Chesapeake High are two reasons the Chargers are unbeaten in the county's 18-and-under select league. And why Alvis believes his 16-and-under entry, undaunted by older competition, will make its third straight appearance in the nationals.

"Rachel has pitched, I think, two high school games, and Jaime's pitched maybe one, or half of one. Nobody really knows about them that much," Alvis said.

"They've carried me to the nationals the last two years. With them coming back, that solidifies our pitching."

And it makes the going even rougher on the rest of the league's 11-team field, which includes Lake Shore -- another 16-and-under group that merged with the elder squads -- and Linthicum-Ferndale Post 289.

Looking ahead to this weekend's state tournament in Westminster, Lake Shore coach Jim Parsons said, "Our toughest competition is going to come from the Chesapeake Chargers. They're real tough to beat. They're solid all the way around, with a lot of experience."

Parsons got an early peek at the Chargers in a Memorial Day tournament, where his team lost, 4-1. Chesapeake is 19-2-1 overall, including a first-place finish in the recent Middletown Tournament, and 4-0 in the league.

The Chargers have seven players returning from last year's Central Atlantic Regional championship team, plus six newcomers.

"We have a lot of talent this year. Right now, we're just hoping that talent will blend," Alvis said.

He boasts a nice one-two punch at the top of the order in outfielders Michelle Manner of Chesapeake and Cindy Parulis of Old Mill. Both are right-handed batters whom Alvis has turned around to take better advantage of their speed.

"They slap [at the ball], and their on-base percentage is phenomenal," he said. "And when you've got people like Lori Lynch [Old Mill], Jaime, Rachel, Jennifer Johansen [Northeast], Leanne Jones [North County] and Brandi Conti [Gwynn Park] to knock them in, it just makes it really nice."

So does having infielder Kathleen Legg on the team. She batted more than .400 this spring for Spalding and provides Alvis with another productive hitter in an already explosive lineup.

"We really are blessed this year," Alvis said. "If you bat ninth on this team, you shouldn't be ashamed."

Alvis' main task now is getting some of his players acclimated to different positions. The roster contains five shortstops, and he's trying to make some changes "without anyone feeling like they've been demoted."

"Once we can overcome that, I think we can have a pretty successful season," he said. "I don't think we'll just be happy with going to the nationals. We'd like to win.

"Last year, we beat the Pacific Coast champions, a California team, and that just whet our appetite. We want to go back and do it again, and maybe not just win one game. We want to win as many as we can. If things fall into place, I wouldn't rule us out."

No one is ruling out Lake Shore, either. Parsons' team is 2-2 in the league and went 4-2 in last weekend's hotly contested Wagner's Tournament.

His No. 1 pitcher is his daughter Carrie, who threw for Spalding's junior varsity this spring. She was called up to pitch in one varsity game, during the Palloti Tournament, and fired a one-hitter.

"I have trouble bragging about my daughter, but she's been great," Parsons said. "She can bring it. She can throw the ball as hard as anybody around. I'm talking 16-and-under, 18-and-under, anywhere."

She's backed up by Loren Bailey, who saw limited pitching duty on Northeast's varsity.

"This is really her first year of throwing consistently, and she's coming along very well," the elder Parsons said.

"Our overall strength is in our pitching," he added. "We also have Katie Ochs, who pitched for Chesapeake at the jayvee level -- and they won the jayvee championship -- and Lauren Spears, who was the No. 1 pitcher for the Old Mill jayvee."

On the flip side, Lake Shore is one of the more inexperienced teams in the league, putting it at an obvious disadvantage against a more seasoned opponent like Chesapeake.

"I have four kids that have played at this level before this year. The rest are relatively new," Parsons said. "We're progressing slowly. We haven't peaked yet, I don't believe, and, hopefully, we won't peak for another couple weeks, until we get into our regionals and national qualifiers."

Linthicum-Ferndale coach David Merrick thinks his team is destined for the 18-and-under regionals, even though the program is in its first year. Perhaps a look at his battery brought about the rush of enthusiasm.

Pitcher Traci Koenig of Arundel and catcher Lisa Garrison of North County are proven winners at the high school level. And pitcher/first baseman Jennifer Bush of Southern recently joined the team.

"She's a decent pitcher. She'll help us a lot," said Merrick, whose team is 3-0 in the league, 4-4 overall.

"Basically, we're hoping to be better than a .500 team and to qualify for the regionals. It's just a matter of how well we hold up in tournament play. When we play with our heads in the game, we're as good defensively as anyone. And during league competition, we hit rather well, too."

The bats went silent in the Wagner's Tournament, where Linthicum-Ferndale lost three of four games.

"But it was senior week, so we had six to eight of the girls gone," Merrick said. "We had most of our younger kids in there."

Every team will need to be at full strength to withstand the rigors of league play, which ends next month.

"It's always competitive," Alvis said. "The 16-and-under teams are getting very competitive. There's no cakewalk anymore."

Linth.-Ferndale Post 289

7-Player .. .. .. .. .. Position .. .. School

Jennifer Alspach . .. OF .. .. .. .. Key School

Jennifer Bush . .. .. P/1B ... .. .. Southern

Lisa Garrison . .. .. C/OF ... .. .. North County

Virginia Gonski .. .. SS/3B/OF .. .. Arundel

Kelly Hartline ... .. 2B/OF .. .. .. North County

Laura Jobe . .. .. .. P/OF ... .. .. Dulaney

Traci Koenig .. .. .. P/SS ... .. .. Arundel

Carrie Lippert ... .. OF .. .. .. .. Glen Burnie

Kelly Neubert . .. .. P/2B ... .. .. Spalding

Amy Povloski .. .. .. 1B/OF .. .. .. Spalding

Ronda Schuler . .. .. 2B/OF .. .. .. Glen Burnie/AACC

Wendy Snyder .. .. .. 2B/3B .. .. .. Severna Park

Sarah Storrs .. .. .. C/1B/3B ... .. Old Mill

Dora Taylor ... .. .. 1B/OF .. .. .. Glen Burnie

Melissa Weed .. .. .. 3B/OF .. .. .. Severna Park

Robin Konrad .. .. .. OF .. .. .. .. Northeast

Lake Shore

:0Player .. .. .. .. .. Position .. .. .. School

Loren Bailey .. .. .. P/2B ... .. .. .. Northeast

Jen Cordery ... .. .. C ... .. .. .. .. Spalding

Jessica Cyran . .. .. 3B .. .. .. .. .. Hammond

Kristan Erhman ... .. SS/OF .. .. .. .. IND

Nickie Faulkner .. .. OF .. .. .. .. .. North County

Amanda Kopchinski ... 1B/3B .. .. .. .. Old Mill

Katie Ochs . .. .. .. P/2B ... .. .. .. Chesapeake

Carrie Parsons ... .. P/1B ... .. .. .. Spalding

Jamie Parsons . .. .. Utility ... .. .. Chesapeake

Ashley Scott .. .. .. OF .. .. .. .. .. Hammond

Lauren Spears . .. .. P/OF ... .. .. .. Old Mill

Kari Thompson . .. .. SS/OF .. .. .. .. Spalding

Sarah Widerman ... .. 1B/OF .. .. .. .. Chesapeake

Kim Woody .. .. .. .. C ... .. .. .. .. Chesapeake

Chesapeake Chargers

7-Player .. .. .. .. .. Position .. .. School

Beth Benner ... .. .. P/2B ... .. .. Northeast

tTC Shannon Burke . .. .. OF .. .. .. .. John Carroll

Brandi Conti .. .. .. 2B .. .. .. .. Gwynn Park

Jackie Elliot . .. .. P/C . .. .. .. Aberdeen

Jennifer Johansen ... SS/3B .. .. .. Northeast

Leanne Jones .. .. .. 1B .. .. .. .. North County

Tracy Kaszuba . .. .. Utility ... .. Old Mill

Kathleen Legg . .. .. 3B .. .. .. .. Spalding

Jaime Long . .. .. .. P/SS ... .. .. Chesapeake

Lori Lynch . .. .. .. C ... .. .. .. Old Mill

Michelle Manner .. .. OF .. .. .. .. Chesapeake

Cindy Parulis . .. .. CF .. .. .. .. Old Mill

Rachel Synowski .. .. P/OF ... .. .. Spalding

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