Arundel High is planning a homecoming night tomorrow to celebrate Anne Arundel County's most successful baseball program over the past two decades.
With the 7 p.m. Broadneck-at-Arundel contest, the top-ranked Wildcats, who are headed for postseason play later this week, will close their 20th regular season under coach Bernie Walter. His program -- and Anne Arundel County baseball -- has come a long way.
Under Walter, Arundel has set the standard for high school baseball in Maryland, winning an unprecedented five state championships and in the process making everyone else better as they worked to keep up with the Wildcats.
Walter, who hit the 300-win milestone last spring, moved from Archbishop Curley in Baltimore, where he was athletic director and JV baseball coach, to Gambrills in the early '70s. In the pre-Walter era, Arundel was known more for soccer, football, track and basketball with the likes of such coaches as the late Steve Carroll and Jerry Mears, and Ron Evans (now at Old Mill).
It didn't take Walter, who had great success as coach of the Leone's-Johnny's of Baltimore 19-and-under club back then, long build Arundel into a high school power.
The team used to play on a cow pasture known as "Death Valley," but through the determined efforts of Walter and Arundel parents, a new field, which one day will bear Walter's name, was built.
The Arundel High diamond is one of the best in the state, and it would mean a lot to the coach if many of his former players showed up tomorrow night to say hello and reminisce about how far the program has come.
* Isn't it a travesty that because of its newly acquired Class 3A status Broadneck will not play 4A rivals Annapolis and Severna Park in football this year?
* There have been some great girls basketball teams in Anne Arundel County over the years at Southern and Brooklyn Park, but has there ever been one that has combined those rare qualities of academics and athletics as the Old Mill team that has won an unprecedented three successive state 4A championships?
Four of the girls from that juggernaut have received Division I basketball scholarships and two more players have landed academic scholarships.
The basketball scholarships have gone to Anne Chicorelli (Kent State, Ohio), Stacy Himes (Old Dominion, Va.), Debbie Dawson and Christine Baer (Shippensburg State, Pa.). Allison Wentworth and Lee Ann Lezzer received academic scholarships to Washington College.
Chicorelli, Himes and Baer were named first-team All-County, and Dawson third team. Chicorelli and Himes also took All-Metro honors.
Wentworth, the 1993 Baltimore Sun for Anne Arundel County Female Academic-Athlete of the Year, was joined on the All-County Academic-Athletic Team by Chicorelli. Those two, along with Lezzer, were honored by the state as Senior Scholar Athletes for posting a career grade-point average of 3.5 or better.
* Have you heard that North County girls lacrosse coach Tom Taylor, who doubles as the successful women's soccer coach at Catonsville Community College, has been named the CCC Coach of the Year by his peers a second straight year?
And how about one of Taylor's soccer proteges, Michelle Yingling, a Northeast grad, taking CCC's Scholar Athlete Award for excellence in the classroom over the last two years?
* Isn't it great to hear that Annapolis senior guard Lozonnah James has received a basketball scholarship to Mitchell Junior College in New London, Conn.?
* Did you know that the Chesapeake Women's Lacrosse Association and Quick Stix is planning a dinner "to celebrate the success of female athletes in the sport of lacrosse" on June 16 at the Bay Ridge Inn in Annapolis? For ticket information, call (410) 267-0048.
* Finally, does Chesapeake baseball coach Jim Simms have his priorities in order?
Simms broke his wrist diving headfirst into third base in a softball game and has been wearing a cast.
"All he said was, 'I was safe, that's the important thing,' " said his wife with a laugh.