Harford County baseball previews

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Aberdeen Eagles

1998 record: 7-10

Coach: Charles Mortus

Top players: Luis Arana, Sr, P-2B; Kevin Bowman, Sr., P-3B; Matt McClanahan, Sr., LF; Brian Mortus, Sr., 1B; Clint Sommer, Sr., C

Outlook: The Eagles are without their top two hitters from last season, but Aberdeen's toughness and fundamentally sound play make it one of the league's more deceptive teams. Bowman leads a deep group of arms, which could be needed as the Eagles likely will have to work harder for runs.

Bel Air Bobcats

1998 record: 10-8

Coach: Mike Ennis

Top players: Mike Cesky, Soph., IF-OF; Kyle George, Sr., P-IF; Mike LaFleur, Sr., 1B; Will Little, Sr., OF-P; Chris Reynolds, Sr., P-OF; Eric Stephenson, Sr., CF; Jason Tabeling, Sr., P-IF; Andy Wolfe, Sr., C-P

Outlook: The Bobcats are in the best position to return to their 1996 form -- when they won the Class 4A state championship. Ennis has an abundance of talent and options among his seven returning starters. Foremost is George (.464, 14 RBIs), one of county's top hitters, who will team with Reynolds to handle the bulk of the pitching. Cesky (.341) heads a group of up-and-coming sophomores. Games against Dulaney and Parkville will be good tests early.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs

1998 record: 16-5

Coach: Bob Rudolph

Top players: Sean Bantner, Sr., OF; Mike Crone, Sr., P-C; Brad Glascock, Sr., 1B; Scott Guzewich, Sr., 1B-DH; Nate Weigl, Sr., 2B

Outlook: The Mustangs appear primed to make another run at a state tournament appearance, something they did last year for the first time since 1988, before losing to Damascus in the Class 4A title game. The Mustangs won't struggle for runs, not with the return of Glascock (.560, 32 RBIs, eight triples), one of the league's premier players, who struck out only five times in 75 at-bats last season. Guzewich (.468) and Bantner (.370) combined for 34 RBIs last season.

Edgewood Rams

1998 record: 7-11

Coach: David Robinson

Top players: Charles Merryweather Jr., SS-P; Mike McIntosh, Sr., 1B; Josh Smith, Sr., C; Daniel Whyte, Sr., P-OF

Outlook: Robinson hopes this group can overcome its youth of a year ago. If so, the Rams' defense should tighten but the lineup needs more than Smith (.400) and Merryweather. Pitching is thin behind Merryweather.

Fallston Cougars

1998 record: 9-9

Coach: Robert Limpert

Top players: Phillip Akens, Jr., SS-P; John Caslin, Sr., SS-P; Justin Collins, Jr., P-3B; Mike Duncan, Sr., C-DH; J.D. Rainey, Sr., 2B; Matt Toomey, Jr., CF

Outlook: Limpert likes his team's chances for a breakthrough season. Six of nine starters are back and Akens, a transfer from John Carroll who throws consistently in the high 80s, will have immediate impact on the mound.

Harford Tech Cobras

1998 record: 1-19

Coach: Joe Foltz

Top players: Jeff Bohdel, Sr., 3B-P; Todd Ess, Sr., P; Steve Smith, Jr., P-1B; Dan Williams, Sr., C; Robert Woods, Sr., 1B-P

Outlook: With one of their larger squads (18 players), the Cobras have more arms to lean on. Williams (.347, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs) is the only sure thing at the plate and the middle defense has all new faces.

Havre de Grace Warriors

1998 record: 18-4

Coach: Doug Heeter

Top players: Justin Frabriziani, Jr., 2B-P; Mike Meade, Sr., P-OF; Shaun Poulin, Sr., 1B; Joe Schiavi, Sr., OF; Bryan Slagle, Jr., 3B-P

Outlook: The Warriors' lineup doesn't have the zest and muscle of last season, as the Warriors, Class 1A runner-up in 1998, were hit hard by graduation. Slagle, the only returning starter, and Meade are unproven pitchers.

John Carroll Patriots

1998 record: 5-12

Coach: George Cooper

Top players: Ricky Black, Sr., 2B; Paul Isbell, Sr., P-IF; Mike Leatherman, Jr., C

Outlook: Cooper, an assistant coach at Chesapeake-BC the past three seasons and former coach at Hereford and Parkville, looks to revitalize a floundering program. Youth is in the Patriots' favor and there's good leadership in Isbell, a workhorse on the mound.

Joppatowne Mariners

1998 record: 8-12

Coach: Tony Blackburn

Top players: Rob Burns, Sr., 3B; Tim Dean, Sr., OF; John Jaimes, Soph., P-2B; Chris James, Sr., OF; Adam King, Jr., P; Neil Woodson, Jr., OF

Outlook: The Mariners' lineup consists of more balance but lacks the power of last season, when it was fueled by two second-team All-Metro senior players (John Andrew and Eric Shank). Blackburn takes comfort in having a stable defense, particularly in the outfield.

North Harford Hawks

1998 record: 10-8

Coach: Tim Larrimore

Top players: Mike Pezzica, Sr., 3B; Scott Phillips, Jr., P-1B; Patrick Starlepper, Soph., SS-P; Jeremy Stifler, Jr., C.; Brent Upton, Sr., P; Brian Watts, Jr., 2B

Outlook: The Hawks have never advanced to a regional final but with excellent athleticism and a lineup that features good speed and power throughout, there's a renewed focus. And the Hawks could shake up the league standings as well. Larrimore has two control pitchers in left-hander Phillips, who was clocked at 84 mph, and Upton, both of whom should benefit from the all-around skill of Stifler (.425, 16 stolen bases). "The guys are much more focused and want to win," said Larrimore.

Preseason poll

Pos. School, '98 record

1. Arundel, 22-4

2. Mount St. Joe, 19-13

3. Severna Park, 19-3

4. South Carroll, 13-7

5. Calvert Hall, 25-5

6. Curley, 15-10

7. Chesapeake, 11-8

8. Fallston, 9-9

9. Centennial, 16-8

10. McDonogh, 15-9

11. Glenelg, 22-2

12. C.M. Wright, 16-6

13. Westminster, 14-6

14. Atholton, 18-7

15. Old Mill, 11-9

16. Dulaney, 11-6

17. Lansdowne, 15-6

18. Mt. Hebron, 8-12

19. Patterson, 21-3

20. Broadneck, 9-11

Pub Date: 3/17/99

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