County softball is quite a wild ride; Evenly matched teams means unpredictable results; Notebook; HIGH SCHOOL


The roller-coaster ride that is Anne Arundel softball is already down its first hill, around a sharp corner and ready for another climb.

Not even three weeks into the season, the ride is far from over.

Take this afternoon's featured game that has defending Class 3A state champ Northeast traveling to Class 4A state runner-up Severna Park.

The No. 4 Eagles (5-2) were on the verge of a third straight 1-0 setback before scoring three late runs to escape with a 3-1 win over Old Mill on Wednesday.

On the same day, No. 3 Severna Park suffered its first defeat after rattling off its first seven, stranding 10 runners in a 4-3 upset loss to unranked Broadneck.

"There's no big powerhouse. People speculated about that before the season, and it's very evident now," Northeast coach Marianne Shultz said.

Second-ranked Chesapeake (5-2) started hot and stayed that way, including a 1-0 win over Northeast last Friday, but fell twice this week, losing to No. 6 North County and No. 10 Arundel.

North County (4-2) started slowly, but appears on track with three straight wins going into today's game at Arundel.

The Knights' 3-1 win over Chesapeake on Monday was much-needed. Sophomore pitcher Brittany Boyd tossed a two-hitter and the offense pounded out 12 hits.

And then there's No. 5 Glen Burnie, the county's early surprise with five straight wins since a season-opening loss to Chesapeake.

Coach Bob Broccolino has used six starting lineups, relying on three different pitchers with only three seniors on the roster.

Last week, it was sophomore Tina Willis doing the throwing and going 3-for-4 with two triples and three runs scored in a 7-4 win against North County.

On Monday, junior Denise Schultheis four-hit Northeast, with freshman catcher Jessica Griffith driving in the game's only run with a triple in the first.

Junior Christina Bounelis is hitting .526 to lead the attack with Willis (.474, three triples, two homers and six RBIs) looking more like a clean-up hitter than her leadoff role.

"This has been very satisfying considering this is basically the same team that finished 8-9 last season counting the playoff loss. Contributions are coming from different players each time out," said Broccolino.

"This county is so evenly matched. The powerhouse teams have come back to the middle some and there are others, Broadneck and Old Mill, that have come up some."

Severna Park will send junior Lauren Pollock to the mound today, with Northeast countering with Rachel Herrick -- two of the county's best.

The Falcons have speed at the top of their order. Kim Burke, followed by freshman shortstop Lauren Haag, are both hitting around .500 and have played a big role in their fast start.

Shultz hopes the Eagles' offense has found itself with the three-run outburst against Old Mill.

"Losing to Broadneck may have been the best thing. Now, I think we'll be more focused," said Severna Park coach Jeff Shepherd. "It should be a good game, a game we can win."

Top two on display

When Annapolis and Severna Park get together for an afternoon of tennis today, the top two singles players in the county will be on display.

Annapolis senior Troy Demers is the player to beat on the boys side, with Severna Park sophomore Susan Johnson the favorite in the girls. Both were county runners-up last spring.

Severna Park comes into the match at 2-0 with a young Annapolis team 1-2 this season.

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