The Washington Nationals reunited with veteran right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, a former Montreal Expo and original 2005 National, by signing him Friday to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp, according to a person familiar with the situation. The incentives of Ayala's deal are still being worked out, but he will have a base salary of at least $1 million, the person said. Ayala, 36, signed with the Orioles last spring and was traded to the Atlanta Braves in April after allowing two runs in only two appearances. With the Braves, Ayala posted a 2.90 ERA over 31 innings, striking out 20 batters and walking 13. Opposing batters hit .286 off Ayala in Atlanta but he limited them to 10 runs in 37 games. Right-handed batters hit .266 off Ayala; left-handers hit .325. Ayala throws five pitches, with his fastball averaging 89.7 mph last season.
—James Wagner, The Washington Post
Winning Image nominated for Barbara Fritchie
Twenty-eight runners, including Winning Image, who won her seventh stakes race two weeks ago in the What A Summer Stakes, were nominated to the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap next Saturday at Laurel Park, according to the Maryland Jockey Club's racing office. The Fritchie is one of four stakes races that highlight the Presidents Day holiday weekend. Winter SprintFest is headlined by two graded, 7-furlong contests — the Fritchie (G2) for fillies and mares and the $250,000 General George Handicap (G3) for 3-year-olds and up Feb. 17. The Saturday card also includes the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap, and the Feb. 17 program will include the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes.
Drug testing: The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a five-year contract Wednesday with Truesdail Laboratories of Tustin, Calif., to perform the analytical analysis of all urine and blood specimens taken from horses competing in Maryland races. The implementation of this contract will provide the Maryland racing industry with technologies to screen, quantitate and confirm drugs and medications administered to horses that exceed the permissive levels allowed by regulation or are not allowed to be present in a horse's system on race day.
Vikings release Erin Henderson
The Minnesota Vikings released linebacker Erin Henderson on Friday. Henderson, who attended Maryland and Aberdeen, had a career year last season, making 112 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions in 14 games (12 starts), but the 27-year-old was charged twice with driving while intoxicated during a three-month span, with the latest offense coming in early January. Henderson had been a mainstay on Minnesota's defense during the past three seasons, starting 33 of the 43 games in which he appeared. In six seasons in Minnesota, he had 288 tackles, 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 64 games.
Copeland, Gaines elected Navy football captains
Two rising seniors, fullback Noah Copeland and safety Parrish Gaines, were elected football team captains for Navy. Copeland played in nine of the Midshipmen's 13 games last fall, missing four because of injury. He rushed for 339 yards and two touchdowns on 69 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Gaines had started 24 straight games at cornerback before switching to safety for the Pittsburgh game because of injuries in the secondary. He started the final seven games at safety, finishing with 65 tackles and three interceptions.
More football: DeLane Fitzgerald, who has spent the past eight years at Southern Virginia, including the past five as head coach, has been named head coach at Frostburg State. After taking over a Southern Virginia program that had averaged two wins a season in its history, Fitzgerald won 24 games in five seasons, including a program-best 8-2 record in 2013.
Softball: Junior pitcher Missy McCormick pitched a complete game and drove in two runs to help Towson defeat Youngstown State, 7-3, in the season opener for both teams at the USC Upstate Classic in Spartanburg, S.C. ... Maryland lost its first two games of the season, 8-4, to DePaul and 14-9 to Florida International at the Felsberg Memorial Tournament in Miami.
Women's lacrosse: No. 6 Duke matched the program's single-game goals record with a 25-4 victory over visiting Elon. Junior Kerrin Maurer scored a career-high six goals.
Blast surges past Ambush, 12-6, on Thursday night
Mike Lookingland had two goals and two assists to lead the Blast past the host St. Louis Ambush, 12-6, in the Major Indoor Soccer League on Thursday night. By winning their eighth consecutive game, the Blast (12-3) closed in on the first-place Milwaukee Wave (11-2). The Blast took a 4-0 lead in the opening period on goals by Tony Donatelli and J.T. Noone. Lookingland scored to open the second quarter and give Baltimore a 6-0 lead. Mike Roach answered for St. Louis (4-12) with an unassisted goal to close the gap to 6-2 going into halftime. Jeff DiMaria narrowed the margin to 6-4 when he Chad Vandegriffe scored on a bicycle kick. Corey Adamson tied the score before Lookingland got his second goal of the game on a free kick to give the Blast an 8-6 lead with three seconds left in the third quarter. Fourth-quarter goals by Diego Zuniga and Pat Healey closed the door on the Ambush. William Vanzela finished with 13 saves for the Blast, which will visit the Missouri Comets on Sunday at 4:10 p.m.
—From Sun staff and news services
NBA: Guard John Wall will represent the Washington Wizards in the Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Weekend, and teammate Bradley Beal will participate in the Rising Star challenge and the Three-Point Shootout. Both Beal and Wall had cited injury concerns for giving them pause about taking part in the individual competitions but eventually decided to take on the challenge and possibly expand their profiles.
—Michael Lee, The Washington Post