Spalding's Ray says UMBC has right pitch Star fireballer chooses to stay close to home


One of the most intimidating high school softball pitchers in Anne Arundel County history, Crystal Ray, has chosen to attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on a full scholarship.

"I wanted to stay close to home," said Ray, a senior at Archbishop Spalding who has been wooed by 18 colleges, among them North Carolina and Penn State. "And I liked the coaches and campus at UMBC. When I spent five hours driving to Radford [Va.] for a visit, I realized I didn't want to go far away. I didn't choose a school based on reputation or who goes there. I made my decision on what I liked about UMBC."

Ray, a right-hander, has a blazing fastball that has been clocked at more than 60 mph and throws a mean drop ball, which dips about 2 feet. She also has a curveball, a changeup and knuckleball in a repertoire that has enabled her to throw three no-hitters and compile a 22-3 record with nearly an entire season left in her high school career.

In her junior season, the first-team All-Metro choice went 12-2 with an 0.76 ERA, 165 strikeouts, two no-hitters, four one-hitters, three two-hitters, seven shutouts and 25 walks in 91 innings. She also hit .385 last season with 10 doubles, one home run and 31 RBIs for 24-2 Spalding, the Baltimore area's top-ranked team for the third straight season.

Ray's mother, JoAnn, said her daughter liked UMBC coach Joy Figueredo at the coach's camp last summer.

"Crystal had coaches from 18 schools wanting her, and I wanted her to go south, because it's warmer and she could play more games," said JoAnn Ray. "But this way, we can go to all her games, and she can come home a lot easier."

Crystal Ray is a two-time high school All-America and has been a dominant Select Team pitcher since she was 13, even though she always has played in older age groups.

Ray said her long-range goal is to be a veterinarian for large animals.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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