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players to watch

Heather Brown

* Northeast, pitcher

* Brown, a second-team All-Metro pick last season, signed with UMBC after a dominant junior season in which she helped Northeast reach the Class 3A East regional semifinals.

Jordan Eades

* Franklin, pitcher

* Eades, the Baltimore County Player of the Year, was 21-1 last season, her only loss coming in the state semifinals to Atholton. The senior allowed just 10 earned runs and struck out 236.

Lauren Gibson

* Chesapeake-AA, pitcher

* The senior, who has committed to Tennessee, was the catalyst behind the top-ranked Cougars' second consecutive 4A state championship. Gibson went 17-2 with a 1.23 ERA, striking out 165 in 120 innings. She hit .500 with 34 runs, 29 RBIs and eight homers.

Kelly Hickman

* Chesapeake-AA, infielder

* The senior is a clutch performer, hitting home runs in two consecutive 4A East regional playoff games. Hickman batted .453 with 28 runs and 20 RBIs in the cleanup position.

Kayla Martinez

* Arundel, pitcher

* Martinez, a senior, helped the Wildcats reach the 4A East regional semifinals last season before losing to the eventual state champion Chesapeake.

Elaine Nescio

* Archbishop Spalding, pitcher

* The senior is looking to top her performance on the mound last season when she led the No. 2 Cavaliers to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. In the final, she threw a one-hitter in a 6-0 victory over the Institute of Notre Dame. She finished the season 15-1 with a 0.70 ERA and 176 strikeouts.

Chelsea Ponce

* Atholton, pitcher

* The junior was key in helping the Raiders reach the 3A state championship game, where they lost to Northern of Calvert County. Ponce ended Franklin's 22-game winning streak in the state semifinals, striking out 15.

Jennifer Rindone

* Archbishop Spalding,

first baseman, outfielder

* The senior was another key contributor to the IAAM A Conference champion Cavaliers. She finished last season with a .489 average and a team-leading 17 RBIs. Rindone also played near-flawless defense, committing just two errors in 113 innings.

Kourtney Salvarola

* Broadneck, pitcher

* A junior committed to South Florida, she was 12-3 with a 1.28 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 93 innings last season. Salvarola batted .556 with 41 runs, 25 RBIs and nine home runs.

Stephanie Speierman

* Hammond, pitcher

* A three-time All-Metro first-team pick who has signed with Michigan, the senior went 18-4 and batted .418. She had a 0.48 ERA, 354 strikeouts and nine no-hitters (one perfect game).

Ashley Thomas

* Broadneck, infielder, pitcher

* Thomas batted .397 with 38 RBIs and tied a state record with eight triples as a sophomore last season. The Bruins' No. 2 starter, she went 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA.

OTHER NOTABLES: Sarah Alpaugh, Liberty; Sam Bell, Francis Scott Key; Allison Bittner, Perry Hall; Holly Buckel, North Carroll; Jessica Butler, Towson Catholic; Kristen Fassler, Western Tech; Brittany Favazza, C.Milton Wright; Kelsey Fuller, Marriotts Ridge; Lindsey Glascock, Glenelg; Haylie Goheen, Atholton; Michelle Gravdahl, Long Reach; Grace Koplow, Wilde Lake; Samantha Lang, Westminster; Megan Liebknecht, Francis Scott Key; Stephanie Maring, South Carroll; Emelie McFarland, Century; Mariah Ripken, Havre de Grace; Marissa Ronan, Franklin; Casey Schmidt, Glenelg; Mary Kate Smith, John Carroll; Brooke Stambaugh, Century; Sam Stiles, North Harford; Val Strawbridge, Fallston; Brittany Walter, C.M. Wright; Elizabeth Wedell, Northeast; Abby Wilson, Catonsville

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