1. Glen Burnie -- See capsule.
2. Archbishop Spalding -- See capsule.
3. Severna Park -- See capsule.
4. Chesapeake-AA -- See capsule.
5. Centennial -- Despite going 17-4 last season, the Eagles missed the state tournament for the first time in three years. But they appear poised to move back to the top of the Class 3A East region, as well as in Howard County. Senior pitcher Kim May (17-4, 1.70 ERA, 166 strikeouts) heads a strong returning cast that includes plenty of proven offense, especially in Terri Bickerton (.510, 17 RBIs) and Marcie Kunkel (.340, 21 RBIs). Some players are switching positions, but the defense should remain sound.
6. Atholton -- The Raiders improved from 11-10 the previous year to 17-7, and five starters return, including ace Kim Ruprecht (17-7, 2.24 ERA, 173 strikeouts) and second-team All-Metro shortstop Chrissy Gavin (.359, 17 RBIs, 35 stolen bases). The Raiders might have a little trouble duplicating last season's .309 team batting average, especially with second-team All-Metro outfielder Lisa Murphy having graduated, but with Ruprecht on the mound and a solid defense behind her, coach Dave Vitagliano's team should be right back in the hunt for state and Howard County titles.
7. Institute of Notre Dame -- The Indians return eight starters from a team that went 14-3 last spring. The most important is senior infielder Kristan Ehrman (.459, six home runs, 28 RBIs), an All-Metro selection who struck out only twice. Junior infielder Robin Johnson and senior center fielder Jamie City also are capable hitters, and sophomore outfielder/infielder Jen Trotta has proven she can play. The key will be how well junior pitcher Amy Cippolini adapts to the varsity level. She must replace second-team All-Metro pick Lisa Riley.
8. Arundel -- See capsule.
9. North Carroll -- No team in Carroll County has more returning talent than the Panthers. Tireless pitcher Kandi Lippy (11-7, 1.49), her county's Player of the Year, is back for her senior season, along with third baseman Jen Rongione (.396, 17 runs, 10 RBIs). Also strengthening the infield are junior shortstop Christina Crouse (.320, 13 runs, 11 RBIs), senior first baseman Jill Ballard and senior catcher Teresa Mays. Coach Rich Harvey said he has "eight or nine consistent hitters," though he lacks a prototype leadoff batter.
10. North County -- See capsule.
11. Old Mill -- See capsule.
12. Mount Hebron -- The surprise team of last season, the Vikings came out of nowhere to reach the Class 3A title game. Even though they lost just three seniors, the Vikings are young and five underclassmen could start for second-year coach Eric Aronowsky. Their marquee player is second-team All-Metro pitcher Jenny Joyce (15-7, 1.25 ERA, 126 strikeouts). Also back are three excellent defensive players: shortstop Sarah Eberhart and outfielders Heather Cole and Becky Miller.
13. Westminster -- The Owls should improve dramatically on last year's 8-10 finish. First-year coach Scott Tobias has a veteran team that could give North Carroll a run for the Carroll County championship. He expects better things from senior pitcher Heather Gonzales, and senior catcher Laura Braun (.358) will be a tremendous help. Senior third baseman Beth Lister joins Braun in the middle of the lineup, giving the Owls a potent one-two punch.
14. Owings Mills -- The Eagles are coming off their most successful season in school history, having gone 19-4 and reaching the Class 1A state final. They again should challenge for the championship, even though they lost six seniors. Coach Lisa Meyer welcomes back a strong battery in sophomore pitcher Alison Kleiner (13-4, 1.08 ERA) and junior catcher Nikki Winik. Owings Mills is especially sound up the middle with shortstop Allie Coufal, a four-year starter, sophomore second baseman Kim Kraus and promising freshman center fielder Jen Miller.
15. Bel Air -- Last year, the Bobcats went 19-2 behind Harford County's Player of the Year, All-Metro pitcher Amy Finlayson (16-2, 0.42, 186 strikeouts, .433), second team All-Metro infielder Danielle Rohde, and Valerie Cooper, the metro Coach of the Year. Only Cooper returns from that trio, and she is left with just three starters from last spring -- senior Jen Faloni (2B) and juniors Becky Fox (SS) and Lynn Wilkinson (OF). She calls her team "young, but talented," which means the Bobcats should do fine as long as the newcomers adjust quickly enough to varsity play.
How the poll is chosen: The 1995 softball poll is selected each week by the local sports staff through game observations and consultation with coaches.