PLAYER OF THE YEAR
* Kim May, Centennial, Sr., pitcher -- Against Howard County competition, May had the kind of senior season players dream about.
Her pitching was the main factor behind a 13-1 county record that sealed the county title. She also pitched a five-inning no-hitter in the regional semifinal before falling to Mount Hebron, the only team to beat the Eagles during the county season, in the regional championship.
Overall, she pitched four no-hitters, four one-hitters and two two-hitters. With great speed and good placement, May posted a 0.64 ERA, allowing only 14 earned runs in a 19-3 season. May set a school record for strikeouts in a season with 217 in 153 innings. She struck out 21 in an early-season 15-inning win over Mount Hebron.
"She just did an outstanding job of pitching consistently," said Centennial coach Dale Huting. "Even with 200 and some strikeouts, there were another 400 putouts total. She did a good job of targeting the ball, so the ones hit against her were fieldable balls."
A second-team pick last year, May also could provide some offense, hitting .320 with 14 RBIs and four doubles. Defensively, she had 48 assists, more than anyone else on the team, and she only made one error.
May will go to Maryland next year, but she does not plan to play softball.
COACH OF THE YEAR
* Chuck Struhar, Glenelg -- Early on, Struhar thought he would have a good team, but he never expected to end up second in Howard County after graduating seven starters from the 1994 county champions.
"I thought we would go gingerly through this and move slowly," said Struhar, who started three freshmen infielders and a sophomore pitcher.
He changed his mind after the Gladiators beat eventual state finalist North Carroll, 4-2, early in the season.
"The key was watching these kids develop in pressure situations like the first time we faced Atholton and Mount Hebron. We handled them easily and I thought this team could be pretty good," he said.
They were -- finishing 16-4 overall. As usual, Struhar drilled his players over and over on the basics. That paid off defensively with only 35 errors and offensively with 194 runs scored.
"I didn't expect a losing season, but everyone said wait until next year. Then, we came within one game of winning the county championship, within one run of winning the county championship. That's a feather in their cap, because they worked hard to get to that level," said Struhar, who was also Coach of the Year last year.
THE FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE
* Terri Bickerton, Centennial, sr., infield -- The Eagles' lead-off batter led her team in runs scored (33), steals (19) and on-base percentage (.580). Bickerton also hit .430 with seven doubles and nine RBIs. Defensively, she made nine errors at second base to finish with an .850 fielding average. The first-team designated hitter last year, Bickerton will play for Catonsville Community College next year.
* Kim Brown, Glenelg, sr., outfield -- In center field, Brown did not make an error. She had 15 putouts and two assists. A repeat first-teamer and an All-Metro second-team pick last year, Brown batted .388 and led the Gladiators with 33 stolen bases, bettering last year's performance by four steals. She also had 13 RBIs. Next year, Brown will play at St. Mary's.
* Heather Cole, Mount Hebron, jr., outfield -- Cole could run down anything in center field and made just one error. With a strong arm, she had seven assists. She preserved a perfect game against Seneca Valley in the state semifinals with a tremendous running catch on a sinking fly ball behind second base. The Vikings' leadoff hitter, she batted .310 and had an on-base percentage of .406. Tough to catch on the base paths, she led the Vikings with 26 steals.
* Sarah Eberhart, Mount Hebron, jr., infield -- Eberhart hit .447 with six home runs, three triples and two doubles. With an .823 slugging percentage, she led the Vikings with 34 RBIs batting in the No. 3 position. At shortstop, Eberhart proved equally reliable with a .937 fielding average. A second-teamer last year, she batted .500 in the state tournament with three RBIs.
* Chrissy Gavin, Atholton, sr., infield -- A polished all-around player, Gavin was the biggest threat in the county once she got on base. She stole 41 bases this season alone and holds all of the school records for steals. A repeat first-teamer and second-team All-Metro pick last year, Gavin improved her extra-base hitting, smacking eight doubles and four triples. She batted .530 and scored 39 runs. At shortstop, she fielded .869 with seven errors although she did not make an error in the last 11 games. She is headed to Furman on scholarship.
* Jenny Joyce, Mount Hebron, sr., pitcher -- Joyce did what most pitchers only dream of doing in the state tournament -- she pitched a perfect game in the semifinal. Not an overwhelmingly fast pitcher, Joyce was a master of the corners. Still, she struck out 125 batters in 131 1/3 innings, including nine in the perfect semifinal win over Seneca Valley. She only walked 17 and finished with a 1.44 ERA. She also batted .360 with 16 RBIs. Joyce, a repeat first-teamer and an All-Metro second-team pick last year, will play next year for Villanova on scholarship.
* Kathy Kiersarsky, Mount Hebron, soph., catcher -- A rapidly improving defensive catcher, Kiersarsky made just one error and threw out 11 runners trying to steal. She also batted clean-up, leading the team in batting average most of the season although she finished second at .444. Kiersarsky had three home runs, three triples and a double along with 30 RBIs.
* Marcie Kunkel, Centennial, sr., infield -- A steady third baseman, Kunkel made only two errors for a .930 fielding average with 30 assists and a couple of putouts. Kunkel led the county champs in RBIs with 27. A second-team designated hitter last year, she hit .440 with two home runs, five doubles and three triples. Next year, she will play volleyball and softball at Division III Francis Marion University.
* Jessie Lombardo, Glenelg, jr., infield -- The only nonfreshman in the Gladiators' infield, Lombardo, a third baseman, fielded .890 with 37 assists and six putouts. She made six errors, but most came early in the season. Lombardo also batted .355 and led the team with 18 RBIs. She was third on the team in steals with 18.
* Kelly Stewart, Atholton, sr., outfield -- A rock in center field for the 16-5 Raiders, Stewart made 15 putouts and had one assist. She made only four errors all season and ended with a fielding percentage of .800. Stewart was consistent at the plate, batting .333 with a double and a home run. A second-team pick last year, she led the Raiders in RBIs with 19. Next year, Stewart will play at Mount St. Mary's.
PICKING THE TEAMS
The Baltimore Sun 1995 All-Howard County Softball Teams were selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with staff writers and area coaches.