Preseason softball Top 15


1 Chesapeake-AA -- The Cougars are trying to become the first Class 4A school to win four straight state championships, and they're poised to make history. Senior pitcher Lori Congdon (13-0, two earned runs) is magnificent. And with senior outfielders Tracy Starke (.451, 27 runs) and Stacey Necessary batting 1-2, with the likes of senior catcher Natalie Black (.403) and senior third baseman Nancy Yeager behind them, the Cougars should score plenty of runs. From top to bottom, this team is so good, it's lethal. Last year (record): 20-1; Final ranking 1992: No. 1.

2 Archbishop Spalding -- Losing pitcher Kim Sheridan, The Baltimore Sun's 1992 Player of the Year, isn't the crushing blow that some might have predicted. The Cavaliers are deep in pitching, led by junior Rachel Synowski (2-0, 0.00 ERA, .352). And the offense, led by senior first baseman Carrie Lycett (.485, 19 RBI, 26 runs), senior infielder Kelly Mabe (.455, 14 RBI, 29 runs), and junior infielder/outfielder Kathleen Legg (.419, 19 RBI) should score runs in droves. Last year: 16-3, No. 2.

3 Arundel -- The Wildcats made the region playoffs last year after a long drought, and with their nucleus returning, they should be back this season. Senior pitcher Traci Koenig won 11 games and hit .426 with 17 RBI. And her batterymate, Heather Daffin (.362), helps make the Wildcats especially strong up the middle. Arundel also has a good crop of freshmen talent. Last year: 11-8, unranked.

4 Glenelg -- The Gladiators return three big bats in senior Lory Wineman (.534, 37 steals, 32 runs) and juniors Jodi Kielman (.466, 30 RBI) and Karyn Duff (.510). Two promising newcomers -- juniors Lyndsay Smyth and Emily Kessler -- will handle the pitching. Glenelg is the early favorite to repeat as Howard County champion. Last year: 15-3, No. 9.

5 Old Mill -- The Patriots will miss their two best players from last year -- Jennifer Schmittle and Jen Bostak -- but senior Karen Jacobson (5-0, 0.24 ERA) should emerge as one of the area's best hurlers. One of the more experienced teams in Anne Arundel County, Old Mill is expected to land back in the region playoffs. Last year: 16-4, No. 5.

6 Loch Raven -- The Raiders will be in the thick of the battle for the Baltimore County title. Senior pitcher Becky Sutton will lead the charge. Last year, she batted .470 with six home runs. The lineup has other potent bats, as Jeanine Scheiner (.435) and Gina Surock (.425) return. Last year: 11-5, unranked.

7 Towson -- The Generals won 18 games last year and the Baltimore County championship. And they look formidable again with junior pitcher Jesse Owens (13-1) and a sturdy defense. The offense isn't shabby, either, led by senior shortstop Erica Hurtt, who batted around .400 and stole 14 bases. Last year: 18-2, No. 12.

8 John Carroll -- With three of Harford County's best players returning, the Patriots are looking as strong as ever. Left-handed pitcher Bonnie Lawson (1.62 ERA, 171 strikeouts, 20 RBI) will keep John Carroll in every game. Shortstop Amity Torbit (.466) and second baseman Katie Nietubicz (.588) provide lots of punch at the top of the order, and they have excellent speed. Only real questions are at the bottom of the order. Last year: 14-5, unranked.

9 Centennial -- The Eagles have a budding star in sophomore pitcher Kim May and solid returnees in senior catcher Keri Chichester (.411, 24 RBI), senior shortstop Kelly Butler (.432, 23 runs), junior left fielder Kathy Gallagher (.354) and junior second baseman Jeannine Lee (.370). Two All-Metro players have departed, but enough talent remains. Last year: 19-1, No. 4.

10 Perry Hall -- The Gators are young, but talented. Five returning starters are complemented nicely by three freshman who should see plenty of action. Pitchers Shannon Furletti and Beckie Baker combined for 12 wins last year, and the team batted over .300, led by second baseman Krisan Pfeifer (.387, seven triples). One of Baltimore County's stronger entries. Last year: 12-3, No. 14.

11 Institute of Notre Dame -- The Indians return seven players from last year's team that was a runner-up to Spalding in the Catholic League. They boast one of the area's better pitchers in senior Christa Engleman, who automatically mades IND a contender again. A team to be reckoned with. Last year: 14-5, No. 11.

12 North Carroll -- The Panthers have reloaded again and are a threat to return to the state playoffs. Senior first baseman/pitcher Michele Jeffery (22 RBI) is back in the clean-up spot, where she can drive in the likes of juniors Jenny Baker (.352, five doubles, four triples) and Casey Rhoten. Last year: 14-7, No. 7.

13 Northeast -- The Eagles lost their coach, Lynn Pitonzo, and a couple of key players from last season. But junior Loren Bailey (.412) and sophomore Beth Benner are promising pitchers, and there are some healthy bats in the lineup, including seniors Robin Konrad (.345) and Dawn Fish (.571 in 14 at-bats). Northeast doesn't look as imposing as in past years, but it can still win games. Last year: 16-4, No. 6.

14 Aberdeen -- With pitcher Rachel Cassady gone, Aberdeen will need a strong season from junior Jackie Elliott, a converted catcher, to return to the state Class 3A tournament. The Eagles have ample experience in the outfield and at the infield corners. The Eagles need more offensive production from the outfielders. Last year: 15-5, No. 10.

15 Glen Burnie -- The Gophers are very young, with five sophomores ticketed for a lot of playing time. But one of those sophomores, pitcher Samantha Miller, was 7-2 and batted .313. Like so many other Gophers, she has tremendous potential. This team should get better as the season progresses. Last year: 10-8, No. 8.

How the poll is conducted: The 1993 Preseason Top 15 was selected by Roch Eric Kubatko. Throughout the season, the Top 15 will be selected each week by a panel of writers and high school baseball coaches. It will appear each Monday.

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