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Eastern Tech softball coach Jack Meyers talks with his players during last season's win over Hereford in the Baltimore County championship game.
Eastern Tech softball coach Jack Meyers talks with his players during last season's win over Hereford in the Baltimore County championship game. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

1. Eastern Tech

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Coach: Jack Meyers

Last season: 19-2, No. 1

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist

Outlook: The seven-time defending Baltimore County champions lose standout pitcher Jodie Bronushas but return nine starters, including All-Metro second-team shortstop Casey Turner. Meyers, who is 159-16 entering his 10th season as coach, will look to senior first baseman Natalie Bates (.478 batting average, three home runs, 25 RBIs last spring) and junior catcher Miranda Burton (.416, 2 HRs, team-high 30 hits) to power the offense.

2. C. Milton Wright

Coach: Jim French

Last season: 18-7, No. 2

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: Though longtime coach Russell Kovach has moved on to Wicomico High in Salisbury, the Mustangs are more than capable of repeating in Class 3A after returning all but one player from last season’s state champion squad. All-Metro first-team pitcher-shortstop Emily Kim, last season’s team leader in batting average (.438), hits (39) and runs (28), and standout senior pitcher Katie Murphy give C.M. Wright one of the most talented rosters in the area.

3. Arundel

Coach: Lisa Mills

Last season: 20-5, No. 5

Postseason: Class 4A state semifinalist

Outlook: Led by returning All-Anne Arundel County players Grace Palmieri (.492 batting average, eight home runs, 21 RBIs) and Caroline Mills (.397 BA, 14 RBIs), the Wildcats are poised for another deep run in the state tournament. While Palmieri and Mills are standout hitters, they also shine on the mound, combining to go 14-2 last season with sub-1.50 ERAs. The Wildcats also welcome back utility player Madison Gentry, a junior committed to Mount St. Mary’s.

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Check out The Baltimore Sun's top players to watch for the 2018 high school softball season.

4. Dulaney

Coach: Dave Barwick

Last season: 17-3, No. 3

Postseason: Class 4A North finalist

Outlook: Led by star senior pitcher Akirra Pullen, the Lions hope to finally break through in Class 4A. Pullen, who went 13-3 last year with 70 strikeouts and a 1.98 ERA, is also a handful at the plate, hitting .519 with five home runs, six doubles, 21 RBIs and 19 runs. With Pullen and a strong offense, the Lions are contenders to unseat Eastern Tech in Baltimore County.

5. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Nicki Trumpler

Last season: 11-6, not ranked

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: The Cavaliers return six starters and nine players total from last year’s team that struggled in nonleague play but finished 8-2 in the A Conference. Junior outfielder Jordan Johnson, a second-team All-Metro pick last spring, and junior catcher Angela Sena will power the offense while sophomores Mackenzie Maenner and Jordan Moore will handle most of the pitching duties when they’re not playing first base. Spalding is young, having graduated four seniors, and faces one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the state, but the return of junior infielder Caroline Wasko, who missed her sophomore season with a shoulder injury after a strong freshman campaign, should help the Cavs improve.

6. Chesapeake-AA

Coach: Don Ellenberger

Last season: 19-4, No. 7

Postseason: Class 3A East semifinalist

Outlook: The return of junior Haley Downin, an All-Metro first-team pick last season, gives the Cougars a strong leader on the mound and in the batter’s box. Chesapeake will need Downin to get back to the Anne Arundel County championship game (in which she pitched a three-hitter to secure the title over Arundel last year) after the graduation of outfielder Emily DeAngelis and third baseman Ashley Smeltz, each an All-Anne Arundel County second-team pick last spring.

7. Hereford

Coach: Kevin Klimko

Last season: 15-5, No. 4

Postseason: Class 2A North finalist

Outlook: In his first season taking over for the retired Laura Blama, Klimko must deal with the graduation of six seniors, including All-Metro Player of the Year Erin Collins (who hit a pinch-hit, two-out grand slam in her first college at-bat this season at Rutgers). Senior pitcher McKenzy Hall takes over on the mound and is a potent offensive threat, batting .532 with five home runs, 25 RBIs, nine doubles and 31 runs. She’s joined by star shortstop Michaela Watts, a first-team All-Baltimore County selection last season who hit .356 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and 22 runs with a fielding percentage of .964.

Here are some key numbers for the 2018 high school softball season in the Baltimore area.

8. Severna Park

Coach: Meredith McAlister

Last season: 16-6, No. 10

Postseason: Class 4A East semifinalist

Outlook: The return of Capital Gazette Player of the Year Campbell Kline, a Maryland commit, is a boost for the Falcons, who lost standout senior catcher Cydney Moore and first baseman Hailey Manning to graduation. Severna Park also returns star pitcher Marissa Heuer, an All-Anne Arundel County second-team pick last spring who dominated in stretches against county competition.

9. John Carroll

Coach: Sherry Hudson

Last season: 10-7, No. 11

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The Patriots are not as deep as they were last season en route to the A Conference title, but they return plenty of talent that will help them stay competitive in the IAAM and against nonleague foes. Senior shortstop Meghan Sheehan, a South Florida commit, batted .538 last season with a .631 on-base-percentage and 28 stolen bases. Center fielder Emma Ritter, a Virginia Tech commit, returns after being named to the All-Metro first team in 2017, as well as Emma Kropkowski, who pitched every game for John Carroll, finishing with 62 strikeouts and a 3.60 ERA in 106 2/3 innings.

10. Mount de Sales

Coach: Kenny Magersupp

Last season: 13-8, No. 15

Postseason: IAAM A Conference A Conference finalist

Outlook: Magersupp has some big shoes to fill after the retirement of longtime coach Pete Waskiewicz, but after being an assistant with the Sailors for six seasons, a smooth transition is expected. Mount de Sales has been to the A Conference final for five straight seasons and loses only one starter from last spring, so Magersupp can rely on a strong core with plenty of experience. That group includes senior shortstop Karlee Stocksdale, who batted nearly .450 last spring, junior pitcher Lyndsey Tolle, junior catcher Allie Cluster (.370 batting average) and sophomore outfielder Laurna Heathcott (.333, five doubles, nine RBIs).

11. Northeast-AA

Coach: Joe Hart

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Last season: 18-5, No. 6

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Eagles must replace standout outfielders Maria Weddle, an All-Metro first-team pick last spring, and Sarah Gordon, a duo that combined for 12 doubles, eight triples, 27 RBIs and 58 runs. Catcher Alexis Brengle, an All-Anne Arundel County second-team pick, also graduated, leaving much of the offensive production and pitching duties to Jenna Matulonis. The senior was a force at the plate and on the mound last season, allowing just one run in Northeast’s 13-1 win over Glenelg in the Class 3A East region championship game.

12. McDonogh

Coach: John Folfas

Last season: 9-8, not ranked

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: The Eagles graduated just one starter — Camille King, who now plays at Division I Hampton — from last year’s team. Folfas’ squad is young, with just two seniors, but talented, led by the battery of junior catcher Madison Gemmill and sophomore pitcher-shortstop Kearstyn Chapman. Gemmill, committed to Virginia Tech, batted .392 with four home runs and 20 RBIs last spring, while Chapman pitched the majority of McDonogh’s games and batted .300. Shortstop Emma Lach and third baseman Abby Blake are also expected to contribute as freshmen for a team that will be tested early by a strong nonconference schedule.

13. Howard

Coach: Chuck Rice

Last season: 17-5, No. 12

Postseason: Class 4A North semifinalist

Outlook: The Lions must replace pitcher Ally Wieman, last season’s Howard County Times Player of the Year, but have an experienced core to rely on. Junior outfielder Julia Colton (.466 batting average, 14 RBIs, 19 runs), senior outfielder Shanya Gordon (.457 BA, nine RBIs, 23 runs) and sophomore catcher Paige Eakes, who exploded last season with a .571 batting average, 30 runs and a Howard-County leading 44 RBIs while settling in as the cleanup hitter, give Howard a potent offense. If Eakes continues to improve and the Lions can find some steady pitching, Howard will be well on its way to another county title.

14. Lansdowne

Coach: Jamie Izdebski

Last season: 14-5, No. 13

Postseason: Class 3A North finalist

Outlook: Jordyn Goodman, who is committed to play softball with her sister, Hannah, at Division II Coker College in South Carolina, returns as one of the top pitchers in Baltimore County. With junior shortstop Tatum Barrass, a strong leadoff hitter, and junior catcher Brianna Eiser, who already has a season with Goodman under her belt, the Vikings have the pieces to be competitive again in the county and state tournament.

15. South Carroll

Coach: Matt Cannistraci

Last season: 18-6, No. 8

Postseason: Class 2A state finalist

Outlook: Pitcher Chloe Sharman, last season’s Carroll County Times Player of the Year, returns for her senior season after leading the Cavaliers to their first county title in 35 years and first state championship game with 171 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA. Infielder Sam Amateau and Marlee Carroll, both first-team All-Carroll County selections last spring, graduated, but infielder Sydni Carroll will be offensive catalyst after leading the Cavs with a .519 batting average as a freshman.

Others considered: Bel Air (15-5, No. 9), Glenelg (17-6, not ranked), Liberty (13-9, not ranked), Marriotts Ridge (15-5, not ranked), Roland Park (9-4, not ranked), Sparrows Point (17-4, No. 14)

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