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Girls in sports reached an all-time high last year


How far have girls sports come in the last 20 years? Well, catch these stats from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

In 1971 there were 294,015 girls participating in sports nationwide. The number reached an all-time high of 2,240,461 in statistics released by the National Federation for the 1994-95 school year.

Fewer boys participated in athletics in 1994-95 (3,536,359) than in 1971 (3,666,917). The boys' all-time high was 4,367,442 in 1977-78, which was a boon year for high athletics because 2,083,040 girls also participated in sports that year.

The girls did not crack the 2 million mark again until 1993-94 (2,124,755) while the boys have not been over 4 million since 1977-78.

Football is No. 1 in the number of participants. Last year, 955,247 boys competed.

Boys basketball (540,269), baseball (440,503), boys outdoor track (430,807) and girls basketball (426,947) follow.

Basketball is played in more high schools nationally than any other sport. Some 16,480 schools have boys teams while 16,029 schools have girls basketball. Outdoor track is the second most popular sport with 14,248 schools fielding boys teams and 13,940 in girls track.

The number of girls participating in outdoor track was 360,223, which ranks sixth overall as the most popular.

Fast-pitch softball was the fourth most popular girls sport (278,395).

Local windmill pitching guru Jack Crandell started out-of-season clinics about 10 years ago and as a result the county and state has become a hotbed for college softball prospects.

With so many opportunities in fast pitch, there still were 35,691 who played slow pitch, the 10th-ranked girls sport.

All the totals do not include the 17,609 (up from 11,698 in 1993-94) participants in coed sports.

Where are they now?

Glen Burnie's Dave Tripp, the 1987 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year as a pitcher/outfielder for Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference champion Mount St. Joseph, is managing a major carpet manufacturer in Georgia and Tennessee.

Tripp, whose state season record for RBIs (46) was tied by Calvert Hall's Liam Healy in 1994, batted .584 with nine homers and 40 runs scored (only 40-40 player in state history). He also was 8-3, striking out 118 in 83 2/3 innings for the 1987 Gaels (22-3).

He was a two-time All-Metro selection and received a baseball scholarship to Clemson. Picked by the Oakland A's in the June free agent draft in 1990, the right-hander pitched in the minors for a couple seasons before experiencing arm problems and being released.

Tripp went back to Clemson and got his masters degree in labor relations.

Recruiting trail

Old Mill All-County outfielder Joe Barnes, who was MVP for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association 18 and Under World Series Champion Gunther's Little Orioles this summer, is being recruited by Miami, Arizona State, UNC-Charlotte and other Division I schools.

Arundel left-hander Ryan Fox, a member of the Wildcats' record seventh state championship baseball team in 1994, ranks as one of the state's sleepers in terms of developing into a college and pro prospect.

Fox, who is 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds, is being recruited by Virginia Commonwealth of the Metro Conference. VCU coaches consider Fox, who saw limited action last spring but was 4-0 this summer with Mayo Legion Post 226, a young pitcher with unlimited potential.

That opinion is shared by veter an Arundel coach Bernie Walter, who should know a thing or two about late bloomers. Walter coached a tall, skinny left-hander by the name of Denny Neagle. Neagle was All-County in 1985 and 1986, and All-Metro his senior year and the County Player of the Year before going to the University of Minnesota.

By his junior year at Minnesota, the 6-foot-4 Neagle had bulked up 20 pounds to 215 pounds, the result of a weight-lifting program. Drafted on the third round by the Minnesota Twins in 1989, Neagle made it to the bigs with the Twins (1992) and this season became an All-Star pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I'm not saying Fox is going to pitch in the big leagues, but as Walter said, "I can see this kid developing physically into a huge guy and who know how far he can go. Nobody works harder."

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