1997 All-Metro softball teams

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Jen Trotta, a senior outfielder from the Institute of Notre Dame, was mistakenly omitted from the chart listing The Sun's All-Metro Softball second team, which appeared Saturday.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Player of the year

Crystal Ray, Archbishop Spalding, senior, pitcher: In a highly-celebrated four-year career, Ray took high school softball pitching to a new level in the Baltimore metro area with a 65-mph fastball, a vicious biting drop curve, rise ball, knuckler, curve, an assortment of off-speed pitches and the courage to throw changeups on 3-2 counts. She was twice named a high school All-America by Women's Fastpitch magazine and was recruited by major schools, such as Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State and Penn State and several prestigious California softball schools. Ray ended the recruiting process early by accepting a full scholarship to UMBC last fall, saying she wanted to stay close to home. In addition to being a two-time first-team All-Metro choice and this year's Player of the Year, Ray was selected Player of the Year in the state by Maryland Sports Ledger magazine and has been invited by Sports International to play softball in Holland this summer. She was virtually untouchable, allowing one earned run in 90 innings (0.07 ERA), striking out 153, walking 12, no-hitting John Carroll, striking out an Anne Arundel County record 20 hitters in 11 innings against Mount de Sales, and posting an 11-1 record. Ray also hit .475 with two home runs, 28 RBIs, six doubles and three triples. Her career performances at Spalding were staggering -- a 35-4 record with four saves, an 0.55 ERA, 457 strikeouts in 266 innings, 20 shutouts, five no-hitters and eight one-hitters. She batted .430 with 117 RBIs, eight home runs, 22 doubles and 13 triples.

Coach of the Year

Paul Yannuzzi, Arundel: He was tough on players and their parents and wouldn't win a lot of popularity contests, but Yannuzzi and Arundel came close to breaking the four-year hold Calvert County has on the Class 4A East region and Class 4A state championships. The Wildcats -- rallying for five runs in four innings and losing, 6-5, with runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh -- threw a major scare into eventual state champion Calvert High in the Class 4A East region final. The Wildcats finished with a 17-6 record for the school's most softball wins since 1983. Arundel had the No. 2 ranking in the final Baltimore Sun metro poll and didn't lose to anyone ranked lower than No. 7 in the metro area. Entering the season, Arundel didn't appear to have enough hitting to match up with Anne Arundel North Division powers such as Glen Burnie, Northeast, Chesapeake, Old Mill and North County. But the Wildcats almost always seemed to hit in the clutch, received some phenomenal pitching from sophomore Soraya Grace, had senior leadership from Drury, Daffin, Kady House and Sarah Mayne, and used the catching skills of Breanna Kitchen to keep runners in their place. "From the very beginning of the year, our four seniors let it be known that nothing was going to get us down, and we would always come back to win games or bounce back after a tough loss," said Yannuzzi.

The first team

Jenn Bernard, Old Mill, senior, pitcher: When Arundel scored five unearned runs to beat Bernard and Old Mill, 5-1, in the Class 4A East Region semifinals at Randazzo Park May 14 to end her high school career, everybody who has followed this pitcher seemed to want to rush up to her and offer some words of consolation. It was typical of the incredible tough luck Bernard had pitched in all four years for a team that was always scratching for runs and having occasional fielding lapses. But nothing needed to be said to the repeat first-team All-Metro choice, who is headed to Campbell University. Bernard's sad eyes said everything as she held the bouquet of roses her mother, Sandy, had given her that night, and her career stats also told the story. She struck out 399 and walked only 57 in 369 2/3 innings and allowed just 70 earned runs (1.33 ERA) but could do no better than a 30-22 record; she was, however, 14-9 in 1-0 and 2-1 games.

Amanda Donaldson, Severna Park, sophomore, pitcher: more, pitcher: One of the most complete players in the metro area, Donaldson can throw right-handed and left, scoop up low throws at first base with amazing consistency, and hit searing line shots all over the field. How much better can this quiet youngster become over the next two seasons? Donaldson fought back from tendinitis in her right shoulder early in the season, accounting in a big way for the team's 0-3 start. She put up impressive numbers on the mound and at the plate and led the Falcons to as high as No. 3 in the metro area and a final 13-7 record. She had a 13-5 record, threw two no-hitters, had a 1.34 ERA, struck out 149 and walked 24 in 120 innings. Donaldson hit .410, had 20 RBIs, two home runs, six doubles and one triple.

Maria Drury, Arundel, senior, outfield: This intense athlete could beat teams in many ways on the field. She had a gun for an arm in right field, could race far into the gap to catch fly balls, steal bases, hit for average and power and hit in the clutch. She was also an emotional leader who nearly willed the Wildcats into the Class 4A state tournament before losing, 6-5, to eventual state champion Calvert in the Class 4A East region final. Drury was 3-for-4 with a big seventh-inning double which drove in a run in that loss to Calvert. For the season, she hit .451, had 22 RBIs, four doubles and one triple. After Arundel beat South River to win the Anne Arundel County South Division title, Drury predicted the team would win a state title. Her prediction fell short, but her performance on the field was huge all season.

Kellie Evans, North County, sophomore, infield: Another one of those "Super Sophs" in Anne Arundel County, Evans can go out and play almost anywhere and be a force. She put on a scintillating hitting exhibition against Jenn Bernard and Old Mill this spring, going 3-for-3 with a home run, triple, single and three RBIs to lead the Knights from a 3-0 deficit to a 6-3 victory. Evans hit .451 this season with two home runs, eight triples, 18 RBIs and two doubles and scored 17 runs. She also handled 80 chances at shortstop, made only seven errors, and pitched 77 2/3 innings with a 1.63 ERA, a 4-6 record, 108 strikeouts and 22

walks.

Shelly Guy, Northeast, senior, catcher: This somewhat silent leader was a rock behind home plate for a young team that started five sophomores and won the Class 2A state championship this season. Guy picked seven runners off base, hit .449, scored 20 runs and had 17 RBIs for the champs. In the 6-5 state championship game victory, she went 2-for-4, drove in two runs, stole a base and threw out a Middletown runner at home plate in the sixth inning when one of pitcher Deana Benner's wicked drop balls went through Guy to the backstop. That play by Guy preserved a 6-4 lead and turned out to be crucial when Middletown scored in the seventh to cut the lead to 6-5. But she was still a little unhappy because she could not prevent Benner from throwing five wild pitches on biting drop pitches that hit in the dirt around the plate. That was Guy, always seeking perfection.

Renee Mrowczynski, Northeast, sophomore, outfield: more, outfield: It seems as if Mrowczynski gets up in the morning hitting line drives and throwing runners out on the bases from center field. The Eagles' leadoff hitter has been performing both of those jobs since arriving at Northeast as a freshman last year, and the result has been two trips to the Class 2A state championship game with one title. In a Class 2A East region 5-1 semifinal victory over North Caroline this year, Mrowczynski slammed a triple and a double in her first two trips to the plate, putting the Eastern Shore team on the defensive right away. She finished the season with a rush at the plate in the playoffs to hit .400, score 20 runs, drive in 11 and hit one home run. Mrowczynski hit .417 last year and was a first-team All-Metro choice.

Kathleen O'Hara, Archbishop Spalding, senior, infield: nior, infield: It was one heck of a four-year run for O'Hara at perennial top-ranked power Spalding. She helped the Cavaliers dominate the metro area with her strong right pitching arm, outstanding bat at the No. 2 spot and excellent fielding at second or short. O'Hara had a 32-1 career record on the mound with three no-hitters, one perfect game, eight one-hitters, 18 shutouts, 294 strikeouts and a 0.30 ERA. She hit .455 with 98 RBIs, 19 doubles, three triples and a homer. O'Hara's coach, Linda Taylor, called her "Rudy," a reference to the smallish boy in the movie by the same name who vowed he would beat the odds to play football for Notre Dame -- and did.

Becky Preston, South River, senior, infield: field: A gifted shortstop with a strong arm, Preston was a perfect fit for South River pitcher Jen O'Neill, who thrived on throwing the ball over the plate and letting her fielders do the work. Preston responded with several nearly flawless performances, including a superb effort in a tough 2-1 loss to Arundel in a battle for the Anne Arundel County South Division championship. She beat All-Metro first-team pitcher Amanda Donaldson and Severna Park, 3-1, with a two-run homer to deep center and was robbed of another possible home run that day by Severna Park right fielder Lauren Huber, who made a super catch in right center. Preston hit .395 this season with 24 RBIs, two home runs, four triples and five doubles.

Sabrina Ryals, Archbishop Spalding, sophomore, infield: omore, infield: A "natural" at shortstop, Ryals proved she could be just as good at second base this season when asked to play some games there for the powerful 25-1 Cavaliers after transferring from always-strong Glen Burnie. She finished with a .940 fielding average at short and second, hit .440 with 25 RBIs, eight doubles, one triple, one home run, and scored 39 runs from the leadoff position. Ryals became known as a big-game player with clutch hits against the toughest teams on the schedule, earning a second straight All-Metro first-team selection even though she is only a sophomore. Ryals now stands in a good position to become a four-time All-Metro first-team pick and surpass Spalding's three-time All-Metro first-team choice, Crystal Henderson. When Ryals left Glen Burnie for Spalding, it had to be one of the few times in any high school sport in the country that a first-team All-Metro choice transferred to another school with three years of eligibility left.

Stacey Swiney, Howard, sophomore, designated hitter: ignated hitter: The Lions have made great strides in softball over the last two seasons, and one of the main reasons is Swiney, who can hit the ball out of sight, handle pitchers behind the plate like a seasoned veteran and dare people to run on her. When Swiney hit a two-run homer over a 200-foot fence in the first inning this season against Glenelg to send Howard on the way to a 3-2 victory for the Howard County championship, she definitely had arrived as a big-time player who is considered a Division I collegiate prospect. Swiney hit .531 this season with 36 RBIs, a .906 slugging percentage, four home runs, three triples, six doubles and 28 runs scored.

Kara Wingate, Franklin, senior, pitcher: Her dreams of a state championship were crushed by North Carroll in the Class 3A state semifinals, but Wingate already had pitched her way to a second straight first-team All-Metro selection before the 6-5 loss to North Carroll, which was her first and only setback of the season. She finished with a 17-1 record, 0.97 ERA, 161 strikeouts and 19 walks in 116 innings. Known more for good location than overpowering speed, Wingate admitted she threw the ball down the middle too much against North Carroll. Her hitting numbers were also impressive this season as she registered a .477 average, 22 RBIs, three home runs and 22 runs scored. Wingate could also field her position very well and made no errors in 29 regular-season chances.

Courtney Wunderlich, Westminster, senior, catcher: nior, catcher: The Owls (12-5) didn't quite match last season's 14-5 run, but Wunderlich was an exceptional hitter and catcher all year. She hit .477 with five home runs, four doubles, two triples, 19 RBIs and 15 runs scored. Behind the plate, Wunderlich was impressive with the glove and her arm, keeping runners honest. All softball coaches say it is impossible to win big without an outstanding catcher such as Wunderlich. She was certainly one of the main reasons Westminster went 26-10 over the past two seasons, wiping out a lot of frustration from a 5-13 record in 1995.

Beth Yourishin, Archbishop Spalding, junior, catcher: ior, catcher: Catching Crystal Ray's fastballs, risers and drop curves for seven innings is a challenge, but Yourishin has done it for two years and makes it look easy most of the time. She also has supreme confidence in her arm and will throw to any base any time in hope of picking off runners or throwing out would-be base stealers. Yourishin picked off 13 at first and third this season and threw out 18 trying to steal. She is also dangerous at the plate, hitting .393 with 36 RBIs, six doubles, three triples and two home runs. Yourishin's strong arm had fans buzzing this year in the strong tournament at Chambersburg, Pa., where she put on a show, whipping the ball to first and third in attempts to catch runners wandering off base.

Angie Zittle, Chesapeake, senior, outfield: One of seven repeat first-team All-Metro selections from last year, Zittle had a powerful throwing arm that gave the Cougars more ways to win games than most teams. She threw out six runners from right field, three at first and one each at second, third and home. In a 2-1 victory over Old Mill, Zittle nailed one runner at home and one at third with beautiful throws and drove in the winning run in the fifth inning. She hit .500 with 15 RBIs, four doubles, one triple, 15 stolen bases and 20 runs scored. It was the second straight season that Zittle hit .500.

All-Metro teams

Player of the Year: Crystal Ray, Spalding

D8 Coach of the Year: Paul Yannuzzi, Arundel First Team

Name ... School ... Year ... Position

Jenn Bernard Old Mill Senior Pitcher

Amanda Donaldson Severna Park Sophomore Pitcher

Crystal Ray Arch. Spalding Senior Pitcher

Kara Wingate Franklin Senior Pitcher

Shelly Guy Northeast Senior Catcher

Courtney Wunderlich Westminster Senior Catcher

Beth Yourishin Arch. Spalding Junior Catcher

Kellie Evans North County Sophomore Infield

Kathleen O'Hara Arch. Spalding Senior Infield

Becky Preston South River Senior Infield

Sabrina Ryals Arch. Spalding Sophomore Infield

Maria Drury Arundel Senior Outfield

Renee Mrowczynski Northeast Sophomore Outfield

Angie Zittle Chesapeake Senior Outfield

Stacey Swiney Howard Sophomore DH

Second Team Soraya Grace Arundel Sophomore Pitcher

Melanie Siler C. Milton Wright Junior Pitcher

Stacy Smith Northeast Sophomore Pitcher

Jen Zabetakis Glen Burnie Junior Pitcher

Breanna Kitchen Arundel Sophomore Catcher

Jennifer Lanham Glen Burnie Senior Catcher

Brooke Clyde Chesapeake Junior Infield

Julie French Chesapeake Senior Infield

Pam Goldberg Glenelg Junior Infield

Kim Kraus Owings Mills Senior Infield

Missy Silvers Chesapeake Senior Infield

Michelle Whelan Glen Burnie Junior Infield

Jen Jump North County Junior Outfield

Meredith McAlister Severna Park Sophomore Outfield

Final top 15

Rank School W-L

1 Arch. Spalding 25-1

2 Arundel 17-6

3 Glen Burnie 14-6

4 Chesapeake 14-5

5 Northeast 17-5

6 Severna Park 13-7

7 Old Mill 14-9

8 North County 11-8

9 North Carroll 17-8

10 South River 15-7

11 Franklin 19-2

12 Howard 15-4

13 Glenelg 17-6

14 C. Milton Wright 14-4

15 Bel Air 13-3

Other teams considered: River Hill (15-8), Westminster (12-5), Centennial (17-7)

Team selection

The Baltimore Sun 1997 All-Metro softball teams were selected by the staff after consulting with area coaches.

Pub Date: 6/07/97

CORRECTION
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