Candelaria shines as Joppatowne rebuilds

The Baltimore Sun

The Joppatowne baseball team is in another rebuilding season, but senior Jon Candelaria is one of the bright spots for the Mariners.

Candelaria, who is the nephew of former major-league pitcher John Candelaria, is a left-handed pitcher who also plays center field and bats third in the lineup.

"Jon's probably my best player," Joppatowne coach Steve Salters said. "He's been a varsity player for us for four years. He's got good velocity. ... With him on the mound, I always have a chance."

Salters said Candelaria has "pretty good control and a pretty good breaking ball."

Joppatowne, which went 3-16 last season and is off to an 0-4 start, has just 14 players on its squad. Salters said depth is a major problem at all positions.

"Right now, my main goal is: No. 1, to win a few games, and No. 2, to keep the program going," he said.

Junior Steve Jagodinski is the one of the top hitters on the team. He was hitting .400 through the first four games from the leadoff position and also has stolen five bases.

Another productive junior is catcher Josh Albowicz, who is hitting .300 and has two doubles.

"He's very strong and powerful," Salters said. "Josh is a three-sport athlete, playing football for me and wrestling."

Salters pointed to senior shortstop Nick Neuman, a four-year varsity player, and junior pitcher-first baseman Jim Reppert as his other top players.

"It's tough not having any depth," Salters said. "But the kids are remaining positive, and it's still early. I'm hoping now we can take advantage of some games that are winnable and continue to teach the kids."

Strong on defense

The North Harford boys lacrosse team will have to rely on its defense if it is to make another strong run at a state championship.

The Hawks are still stinging from an emotional, 9-8 loss in overtime to Mount Hebron last spring in the Class 3A-2A title game, a setback that left the Hawks with a 17-3 record.

"If our defense can keep us in games, we'll be OK," North Harford coach John Grubb said. "Defense is the strength of our team. We lost 80 percent of our scoring from last year and two of our top returning attackmen [Jake Hertzog and John Kiplinger] will miss the first part of the season with injuries."

The other top returning offensive threat is midfielder Mike Young. The top four defensemen for the Hawks are Justin Hohner, Jeff Doll, Dan Griffin, and Brian Snee.

Mustangs stumble

Defending Class 4A state softball champion C. Milton Wright jumped off to a 3-0 start this season before losing Wednesday to always strong North East of Cecil County, 7-6.

"We had a little speed bump today," Mustangs coach Joe Dunch said after the game. "Unfortunately, we dropped a game. Just a little misstep, hopefully, and we can get back on track."

C. Milton Wright had 12 come-from-behind wins last season on the way to a 24-2 record and a state title after finishing as the Class 4A state runner-up in 2005.

The Mustangs are led this season by senior center fielder Cynthia Foster, who hit .475 last year and was first-team All-Metro; junior shortstop Allison Kuchar, who was a first-team All-Metro pick as a freshman; senior pitcher Chelsea Funk, who had a 23-2 record and a 1.68 ERA last season; senior catcher Nickki Hartner; and the Favazza sisters, senior second baseman Megan and sophomore outfielder Brittany.

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