Towson rests its infirm, tests football youngsters


Bumps and bruises didn't necessarily equal pain for the Towson football team, which ended its spring practice session last weekend.

The Tigers, with 15 starters expected back from 1999's 7-4 season, played their spring game minus a third of their projected starters and a good chunk of the reserves.

Those who sat out the game will be back for the fall. More important to Towson coach Gordy Combs was the chance to see some of his younger players, who saw more action during Saturday's spring game.

"It was an opportunity for a lot of young players who haven't been in the heat of battle," Combs said. "It forced us to play a lot of freshmen, which is fine. ... I know that in the fall, I'll have [offensive tackle] Brian Wronski and [center] John Tierney back in position."

Two who shined were Matt Prizzi and Casey Stevenson, who took advantage of a very green quarterbacking crew. Each picked off multiple passes during the scrimmage, indicative of a defensive unit that had a strong-as-expected afternoon.

At quarterback and running back, Towson found itself auditioning lots of players, not because of injuries but because of standouts who have moved on. With Joe Lee, last fall's quarterback and campus male athlete of the year, working as a headhunter in Northern Virginia and running back Jason Corle trying out for the Buffalo Bills, the team seemed to have five quarterbacks and four tailbacks with decent chances of assuming those positions.

The quarterbacks looked average - a big reason the scrimmage teams failed to score more than a field goal before halftime - still trying to get the timing down with their receivers, apparently.

Meanwhile, each of the tailbacks staked a claim to Corle's old position. The glossiest was Ray Harris, who broke for two long touchdown runs during the scrimmage.

Diamond notes

How about this for versatility? UMBC softball pitcher Crystal Ray sits in the top five in 10 Northeast Conference categories (hits, RBIs, batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, opposing batting average, innings pitched, strikeouts, wins and starts).

Ray, who played at Archbishop Spalding, has 13-6 record with a 1.70 ERA for UMBC (26-25). The team enters this weekend's NEC tournament in Long Island as the No.4 seed.

UMBC's baseball team has perhaps a better chance of advancing past NECs as the top seed in its league tournament in Atlantic City.

Led by pitcher Tom Bloom, second baseman Greg Deboy and first baseman Chad Gerben, the 29-18 team won the league's Southern Division.

Towson's baseball team (29-18) will likely be the second seed in next week's America East tournament.

Towson's fourth-seeded softball team (31-28) plays Hofstra tomorrow in its league tournament in Hempstead, N.Y. Outfielder Brooke Clyde and designated player Stacey Smith were Towson's representatives on the league's second team for softball.

Salisbury State's softball team (30-8-1) begins its fourth straight NCAA tournament at noon tomorrowagainst Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Ithaca, N.Y.

CCBC-Dundalk is hosting the Region 20 NJCAA baseball tournament beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Dundalk (29-18) is the top seed. CCBC-Catonsville (30-11) is second-seeded. The winner advances to the Division II World Series on Memorial Day weekend.

Johns Hopkins catcher Johnny Craig is the Centennial Conference's Player of the Year after hitting .380 with two home runs, 17 doubles and 42 RBIs.

Links to NCAAs

Four state teams will compete in regional play in the NCAA men's golf tournament next week. Navy, Towson, and UMBC will compete in the West Regional at Riverbend Golf Club in Madera, Calif.

Individually, Maryland's Keith Unikel and Gary Mankulish will play in the East Regional at the Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pa.


Salisbury State faces Mary Washington in the Division III NCAA men's tennis tournament on Saturday.

Washington College's team made the same tourney for the 13th time in 15 years, winning its seventh straight Centennial Conference title.

Washington College's women's lacrosse team is in postseason play for the first time - in the ECAC's mid-Atlantic championships for Division III.

Gymnast Gabi Weller was named Towson's female athlete of the year.

Goucher picked basketball player Tavar Witherspoon as its top athlete.

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