COACH OF THE YEAR
* Bob Broccolino, Glen Burnie -- Broccolino has said that "anyone could have coached this team," but could they have kept it near or atop the metro-area rankings all spring, remained patient during a peculiar two-game slump late in the regular season, and tinkered with the lineup just enough to get the utmost production out of positions that lacked a dominant player?
Competing in the treacherous Class 4A League, the Gophers won nine straight to open the season, including victories over four ranked opponents (three on the road). They were 14-1 with three games remaining when they were beaten by Arundel and Old Mill at home, committing 11 errors.
"I remember sitting them down and telling them, 'That's not Glen Burnie softball. You're better than that,' " he said. "And I lied and told them they had no chance of getting home-field advantage and to just go out and have fun. There was no pressure on them anymore. Just relax."
Glen Burnie recovered by beating Severna Park twice on the road, the second time in the region semifinals. It needed to win the first game to avoid playing defending 4A state champion Northern-Calvert in the opening round.
At the start of the year, Broccolino put Chris Napora at third base even though she was a designated hitter the previous spring who saw spot duty at first. She flourished, making just two errors. He used a handful of players in right field and at designated hitter, keeping everyone fresh and motivated.
"You never know when you're going to need them," he said. "Everybody had a hand in us winning. We all pulled together as a team."
THE FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE
* Tami Barrington, Chesapeake, Jr., OF -- The Cougars' leadoff hitter, Barrington batted .379 with three doubles, 20 runs scored and 13 steals. She ignited many of the Cougars' big innings. Exhibiting a strong throwing arm and good speed in center field, Barrington posted a .934 fielding percentage.
* Stephanie Bennett, Old Mill, Sr., DH -- One of the biggest surprises this year, Bennett was among the county's leading hitters at .596 after not playing much as a junior. Her average was above .600 until the last week of the season. She also had three doubles, two triples, two home runs, 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Bennett, a shortstop, had an on-base percentage of .692. She will play at Anne Arundel Community College.
* Jennifer Fowlkes, Chesapeake, Jr., Util. -- A catcher/first baseman, Fowlkes batted .479 with seven triples, 23 RBIs and 20 runs scored. Coach Dennis Thiele called her "one of the best defensive first basemen in the county." As a catcher, she threw out four runners trying to steal.
* Crystal Henderson, Spalding, Jr., INF -- Henderson led the Cavaliers in hitting for the third consecutive year, posting a .627 average (37-for-59) going into the Catholic League final, which Spalding won. A leadoff hitter, she had three doubles, four triples, four home runs and 21 RBIs, and she stole 33 bases. She also committed just one error at shortstop.
* Teresa Horney, North County, Sr., C -- Horney batted .390 (23-for-59) with two home runs and an on-base percentage of .471. She had three doubles, one triple and 23 runs scored, and stole 11 bases. Considered one of the best defensive catchers in the metro area, Horney allowed just one stolen base.
* Christy Huber, Severna Park, Jr., P -- With her backup out for much of the season, Huber worked 114 innings and went 14-4 with a 0.73 ERA. She struck out 175 and walked 30. She batted .317 with four doubles, three triples and 14 RBIs. Huber also improved defensively, posting a fielding percentage of .981.
* Amanda Melgaard, Severna Park, Sr., INF -- A first baseman heading to Georgia Tech, Melgaard batted .458 (27-for-59) with eight doubles, seven triples and 16 RBIs. A catcher/third baseman last year, Melgaard had a .997 fielding percentage. "In terms of technique, I haven't seen anybody better," said coach Wayne Mook.
* Chris Napora, Glen Burnie, Sr., INF -- One of the more feared power hitters in the metro area, Napora batted .456 (26-for-57) with two doubles, four triples, two home runs and 13 RBIs. She had an on-base percentage of .544 and a slugging percentage of .737, and struck out just eight times. At third base, she made only two errors after spending last year as a DH. She will play at Anne Arundel Community College.
* Crystal Ray, Spalding, Soph., P -- Splitting the pitching with fellow sophomore Kathleen O'Hara, Ray went 10-1, including a 6-0 win over IND in the Catholic League final, when she threw a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Going into that game, she had struck out 105 and walked 14 in 68 innings with a 1.15 ERA. She threw one no-hitter and three one-hitters. Batting fourth, Ray had a .444 average with two doubles, five triples, three home runs and 29 RBIs heading into the championship game. Against IND, she went 3-for-3 with an RBI.
* Kerri Smith, Old Mill, Sr., OF -- Another Patriot who enjoyed a breakthrough season, Smith batted .370 with one double, one triple, 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored. She was an exceptional bunter who was versatile enough to catch, and also served as the designated hitter on occasion. "She came out of nowhere this year," said coach Lori Darnall. Smith will attend Salisbury State.
* Melissa Snyder, Severna Park, Sr., OF -- One of the best center fielders in the metro area, Snyder concluded an outstanding high school career by batting .400 (22-for-55) with four doubles and three home runs. She knocked in 13 runs, walked 13 times and stole six bases. Snyder, who is heading to Towson State, registered a .946 fielding percentage and threw out three runners at home.
* Nicki Trumpler, Spalding, Sr., INF -- Trumpler batted .448 (30-for-67) with two doubles, two triples, one home run and 28 RBIs. Batting third in a powerful lineup, she was a "contact hitter who kept the ball low and hard," said coach Linda Taylor. Trumpler made no errors at first base. She will attend Mount St. Mary's.
* Denise Warren, Glen Burnie, Sr., INF -- Last year's county Player of the Year, Warren had another superb season. Sharing the pitching with Miller, she went 6-3 (including a no-hitter) with a 0.91 ERA, 28 walks and 63 strikeouts. Going into the region final, she was batting .466 (34-for-73) with three doubles, two triples, five home runs and a team-leading 21 RBIs from leadoff. She also stole nine bases and had a .589 on-base percentage and .769 slugging percentage. A shortstop who's heading to UMBC, Warren had a .918 fielding percentage.
* Ruth Wilson, Arundel, Jr., OF -- Wilson ranked among the Wildcats' leading hitters with a .330 average, but she was an asset in many other ways. A leadoff hitter, her speed produced 14 steals, and she didn't commit an error in center field. "She covered a lot of ground out there for us and was great at stealing bases," said coach Paul Yannuzzi.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: SAMANTHA MILLER
Glen Burnie, senior, pitcher -- For three years, someone at Glen Burnie always overshadowed Miller, in spite of her impressive statistics as a pitcher and shortstop. But no one could push her aside this spring.
Miller went 10-1 (including a no-hitter) with a 0.61 ERA, her only loss against eventual 4A state champion Northern of Calvert County in the region final. She struck out 68 batters in 74 innings, walked 12 (one intentional) and allowed just one home run, in her last game. She gave up five extra-base hits, including two against Northern.
But that was only half the story. She batted .435 with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and 19 RBIs. She didn't strike out during the regular season and had an on-base percentage of .576 and a slugging percentage of .674. Her .934 fielding percentage included nine games at shortstop.
"You couldn't ask more of a kid. She's done everything," said coach Bob Broccolino. He described her as someone who "refuses to give in, refuses to lose" when she was pitching. And until the region final, when the Gophers made five errors, she hadn't lost. That winning streak included defeating Severna Park twice in less than a week on the Falcons' home field.
Miller's next stop will be the University of Maryland. The Baltimore Sun 1995 All-Anne Arundel County Softball Teams were selected by Roch Eric Kubatko after consultation with staff writers and area coaches.