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Softball: The poll

1. Seton Keough

Coach: Chuck Snee

Last season: 14-2, ranked No. 4

Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist

Outlook: Snee, a four-year assistant, takes over for Jackie Boswell and will compete for the IAAM A Conference title with pitcher Robi Zimmerman, second baseman and leadoff hitter Bridget O'Malley, junior shortstop Hannah Tavik and junior catcher Mikki Kouneski, who led the team with 22 RBIs.

2. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Kristin Dulay

Last season: 12-4, No. 2

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The two-time defending league champions will have to account for the graduation of 2010 All-Metro Player of the Year pitcher Emily Weiman, but Dulay is confident junior pitcher Bailey Rouk and freshman pitcher Ali Caulkins will help fill the void.

3. Glen Burnie

Coach: Doug Schreiber

Last season: 11-9, No. 7

Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist

Outlook: The Gophers should be a force in a very talented Class 4A East and will be led by pitcher Melanie Slowinski, who has signed with Rutgers, and sophomore pitcher Ali Moos.

4. Howard

Coach: Chuck Rice

Last season: 21-3, No. 3

Postseason: Class 3A state finalist

Outlook: The Lions have set their sights on a another run to the state championship with seven returning players, including pitcher Kensey O'Neill (an All-Metro second-team pick), shortstop Jules Natoli and first baseman Sage McGrann.

5. North County

Coach: Linda Parks

Last season: 13-7, No. 11

Postseason: Class 4A East regional quarterfinalist

Outlook: The Knights have 10 returning players, including outfielder Kate Helmick, who batted .500, and pitcher Brittany Jones, who was 12-5 and hit .457 with five doubles and 12 RBIs.

6. Broadneck

Coach: Deanna Romeo

Last season: 16-4, No. 8

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Bruins play in one of the toughest regions in the state, but they have the talent for a deep playoff run with seven returning players, including Kristina Dillard, who batted .462 and led Anne Arundel County in RBIs with 36.

7. Severna Park

Coach: Meredith McAlister

Last season: 14-7, No. 12

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Falcons have the talent to challenge for a state title and will be led by senior center fielder Paige Briganti — a five-tool player who batted. .541, had a .618 slugging percentage, stole nine bases and did not commit an error.

8. North Carroll

Coach: Lloyd Ford Jr.

Last season: 20-2, No. 6.

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Panthers have been perennial contenders in Class 4A, and this season will be no different, thanks to the senior leadership of pitcher Ashlynn Shaffer (18-2, 0.95 ERA), second baseman Lauren Capece and center fielder Micaella Hernandez.

9. Lansdowne

Coach: Jamie Izdebski

Last season: 19-4, No. 5

Postseason: Class 2A state finalist

Outlook: The Vikings, who advanced to the state final twice in the past three years, will be looking for a return trip behind the pitching of Maude McCourry, a four-year varsity player who has established herself as one of the area's dominant pitchers.

10. Chesapeake-AA

Coach: Don Ellenberger

Last season: 23-1, No. 1

Postseason: Class 4A state finalist

Outlook: The Cougars lost 2011 All-Metro Player of the Year Megan Hyson and catcher Gabby Couture to graduation, but they still have seven returning position players, including All-Metro picks Kim Federowicz (.468 average, 29 runs), Olivia Ravadge (.444, 4 HRs, 27 RBIs), Jacqueline Richards (.400, 20 RBIs) and Emily Kirby (.352).

11. C. Milton Wright

Coach: Russ Kovach

Last season: 15-5, No. 9

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Mustangs are a seasoned team with seven returning starters from last year's state semifinal squad and six who were starters on the 2010 team that made the state final. That includes two key seniors: center fielder Jessica Canami, a .400 hitter, and shortstop Lindsay Resnik, who hit .450 in the second half of the 2011 regular season and playoffs and had a .947 fielding percentage.

12. Eastern Tech

Coach: Jack Meyers

Last season: 18-1, No. 10

Postseason: Class 2A regional finalist

Outlook: The Mavericks have enough talent returning to build on last season's successful campaign, especially with center fielder Alexis Peay and catcher Ashley Sauerwein anchoring the lineup and sophomore Jordan Cargile (10-1, 2.05 ERA) on the mound.

13. Franklin

Coach: Ed Lahay

Last season: 14-3, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A regional quarterfinalist

Outlook: The Indians have six returning starters, including third baseman Kim Dorsey (.340 batting average, .426 on-base percentage), and will look to recapture the Baltimore County championship and go on a deep playoff run.

14. Hereford

Coach: Laura Blama

Last season: 12-5, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Bulls will have more experience with seven returning starters and a lineup led by All-Baltimore County shortstop Hannah Thomas, who batted .512 and had 26 RBIs a year ago.

15. Mount de Sales

Coach: Pete Waskiewicz

Last season: 3-10, unranked

Postseason: IAAM semifinalist

Outlook: The Sailors have eight returning starters from a team that lost six one-run games, including a 1-0 defeat against Spalding in the playoffs. They will be led by junior first baseman-pitcher Ashley Lesniewski, who batted .375 with six homers, and junior shortstop Ronnie Rittie.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: Bel Air (10-4), Century (10-9), Glenelg (12-5), Loch Raven (17-5, No. 15), Marriotts Ridge (12-8), River Hill (13-5), Westminster (12-8, No. 13)

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