The art of manufacturing runs, coupled with good pitching and defense, has been the Mark Stover trademark for 11 seasons at Broadneck.
Until this season, the best results had been a 14-7 campaign as a region semifinalist last year. This year, Stover led the Bruins to the 3A state championship and a school record 18-6 record, including a 2-1 victory over South Carroll in the final.
Stover (131-98, .572) was not very optimistic before the season with only two returning starters and an inexperienced pitching -- staff. A winning season figured to be a struggle, a state championship was a pipe dream.
After all, there were no pro or Division I prospects, such as 6-foot-7 Sean Ryan, who was 14-4 over his last two seasons before signing with the Texas Rangers.
Stover considered pitching by committee but Rob Wakefield (7-3, including two-hit victories in the region and state finals) and lefty John Totherow (5-1) blossomed under Stover, a former Dulaney High and Towson State University pitcher.
Changing batting orders and positions to find the right &r; combinations, and stressing the fundamentals of the bunt, hit and run and aggressive base running produced results.
The Bruins got off to a fast start, winning their own Easter Tournament over Old Mill, Loyola and Curley. The Bruins' confidence was soaring until a 12-2 loss to 4A state champion Arundel in late April followed by regular-season-ending losses to Southern and Northeast.
The Bruins were regressing until Stover devoted a practice to reviewing all the things good teams work on in the preseason. It resulted in four playoff victories and the Bruins' first state title since 1983 when Stover was an assistant to Tim McMullen.
"It was a remarkable coaching job," said McMullen, now an assistant. "Mark has been Anne Arundel's best-kept secret for ,, quite some time."