1999 HARFORD COUNTY SOFTBALL PREVIEW

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Public schools

Aberdeen Eagles

1998 record: 21-5

Coach: Denise Smick

Top players: Kiara Jimenez, Sr., P; Quintessa Johnson, Jr., SS; Julie Presswood, Sr., 3B; Jenny Van Dyk, Jr., CF.

Outlook: Despite the help of a recreation program, Smick's squad consists of several players with fewer than four years of playing experience. Jimenez, a four-year starter, figures to get better support from an upgraded defense.

Bel Air Bobcats

1998 record: 11-5

Coach: Val Cooper

Top players: Lindsay Bugda, Sr., P; Nikki Hentz, Sr., CF; Christi Kimball, Sr., C; Jacque LaFleur, Jr., SS; Melissa Malcolm, Sr., 2B; Jill Wittnebel, Jr., 3B.

Outlook: The Bobcats return last season's battery of Kimball and Bugda, who needs to limit her walks, as she averaged nearly two an inning in 1998. LaFleur (.418, 15 RBIs) leads a disciplined lineup and a defense that is strong up the middle.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs

1998 record: 19-4

Coach: Joe Dunch

Top players: Erin Armstrong, Sr., LF; Ashley Blevins, Jr., 3B; Holly Dye, Sr., RF; Megan Hube, Jr., C; Liz McSpadden, Soph., SS; Erin Rodecker, Sr., P.

Outlook: Hube (.545, 3 HR, 23 RBI), one of the league's top sluggers, leads a strong lineup with good speed. "We are a little bit more well-rounded this year," said Dunch, whose Mustangs lost to LaPlata (6-2) in last season's Class 3A state semifinals.

Edgewood Rams

1998 record: 7-7

Coach: Debbie Brinkman

Top players: Beth Bossle, Sr., P; Abrina Cole, Sr., SS; Becky Vandevander, Jr., 1B; Jessica Watson, Jr., C; April Welty, Jr., OF.

Outlook: Brinkman has a number of skilled players who played in summer leagues but the Rams remain a light-hitting club. Cole stabilizes a middle defense that figures to help Bossle, who suffered because of shoddy fielding last season.

Fallston Cougars

1998 record: 14-4

Coach: Donald Buchanan

Top players: Erin Blackiston, Jr., 3B; Chrissy Brockmeyer, Sr., C; Leah Keller, Jr., 3B; Candy Kuligowski, Sr., SS; Angie Levy, Sr., OF; Diane Molnar, Sr., P.

Outlook: Expect the Cougars to be a strong contender for both the county and regional titles. Molnar (13-4, 1.21 ERA), a third-year hurler, had 88 strikeouts and walked only 21 in 110 innings last season. Kuligowski (.500, 35 RBI) is a run-producer and heads a sure-handed infield.

Harford Tech Cobras

1998 record: 6-12

Coach: William Hurd

Top players: Jen Dolbert, Sr., CF; Tammy Hamilton, Sr., 1B; Karen Myers, Jr., 3B-SS; Ronda Price, Soph., C; Sarah Wolfe, Soph., P.

Outlook: The Cobras, who set a school record for wins last season, are rebuilding with 11 newcomers, five of them freshmen. Myers is the best hitter.

Havre de Grace Warriors

1998 record: 3-16

Coach: David Tramontana

Top players: Allyson Fisk, Sr., OF; Heather Fotieis, Fr., Inf-OF; Kristin Gillespie, Sr., Inf; Jessica Hager, Jr. P; Keri Mentzer, Sr., 2B-1B; Lin Ruchlewicz, Soph., 3B-SS; Jen Scjwartz, Jr., Inf-C; Rebecca Wren, Fr., OF.

Outlook: The Warriors anticipate a breakthrough season. While his squad is still young, Tramontana said there is noticeable improvement in talent. Hager appears more composed on the mound.

Joppatowne Mariners

1998 record: 7-9

Coach: Gregory Wensell

Top players: Keri Jameson, Soph., 2B; Lindsay Lewis, Jr., 3B; Becky Sullen, Sr., Inf-OF; Toni Sumpter, Sr., OF; Angie Wiley, Jr., P.

Outlook: Wensell has a capable lineup, but can the defense hold up? Wiley assumes the starting role on the mound and could be the difference. The Mariners lost seven one-run games last season.

North Harford Hawks

1998 record: 13-5

Coach: Susan Anderson

Top players: Holly Arrowhead, Sr., 3B; Courtney Ness, Jr., SS; Jen Renfro, Sr., 1B; Jess Sturgill, Jr., P; Gwen Waters, Sr., C; Jo Zazzali, Sr., Sr., C.

Outlook: Most of the Hawks starters played together on the same summer league team and are smooth fielders. Sturgill has improved her speed and control and Anderson hopes her team can produce some early runs.

Private schools

Harford Christian Eagles

1998 record: NA

Coach: Jerry Slonaker

Top players: Grace Bunch, Jr., Inf-OF; Natalie Cooper, Sr., RF; Gina Newman, Soph., P; Sarah Schafer, Jr., Inf.

Outlook: Despite only a week of practice, first-year coach Slonaker is encouraged. The team is both versatile and deep at the plate and in the field.

John Carroll Patriots

1998 record: 11-11

Coach: Neal Drexel

Top players: Brigitte Boyle, Sr., Inf-C; Julie Jones, Sr., OF; Sarah Kachur, Sr., P; Jenn Pawloski, Soph., Inf; Maggie Pyzik, Soph., P-OF; Shelley Reft, Sr., CF.

Outlook: LHP Pyzik's control will likely decide how well the Patriots can compete in the Catholic League. Again, the strength is the defense, especially in the infield, but Drexel needs more than Reft (.420, 3 HR, 33 RBIs) at the plate

Pub Date: 3/18/99

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