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County pacesetters reload for a chance to make run at titles

March 21, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

Washington County sent two public schools to the Maryland state tournament and another private school nearly won a state title.

Is there the potential for a repeat in 2009?

Last season, South Hagerstown and Clear Spring reached the state semifinals and it appears both teams have a respectable chance to return.

The Rebels, coming off a 17-4 season with an MVAL Piedmont conference title, lost pitchers Brandon Knight and Tim Leather to graduation. Knight went 6-0 with two saves and a 1.68 earned run average while Leather was 8-0 with one save and a 1.85 ERA.

Clear Spring went 18-4 and shared the Antietam title with Catoctin. The Blazers lost All-Area pitcher of the year Josh Constable along with All-Area outfielder Adam Mills.

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Constable was 5-0 with a 0.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 39 innings. Mills had three home runs, 18 runs batted in and hit .448.

St. Maria Goretti finished with a flourish and was runnerup in the Private League championships and have several returning starters to go for a title it last won in 2007, led by shortshop J.J. O'Neill, a first-team All-Area.

Everyone else will have have their say for 2009.

Here is a brief look at Washington County schools:

Boonsboro

Coach Ben Leonard and the Warriors are hoping for bigger things than last year's 11-10 record. It starts with pitching.

Pitcher John Shobe and shortstop Jared Ferguson are key losses, so the Warriors will look for leadership from All-County outfielder Seth Poffenberger, who hit .417 last year. He'll get some time this season on the mound along with promising youngster Dryan Cole.

Tyler Walsh is a big first baseman at 6-foot-4 and will bat cleanup and the table will be set by centerfielder Cody Snavely. Catcher Sean Colgan returns and will be better defensively.

"We're a little green in places," said Leonard. "Walsh is gonna be a go-to RBI guy. And we've got a sophomore (Rodney Flora) who can really hit the ball. We might be a small-ball team and if we score without a hit, we'll be better."

Broadfording Christian

Coach Rick Carter says the Lions have some strengths in pitching and hitting.

"We've got some youth, but I think those areas could be strengths for us," said Carter. "We've got some boys that we hope will start to show some power."

Right-hander Gabe Hirsch, left-hander Zach Snodderly -- both juniors -- and sophomore Matt South will be the main threesome on the hill for Broadfording. South also plays shortstop and Hirsch adds more flexibility as a shortstop/centerfielder.

Clear Spring

Coach Mark Shives has three returning All-County performers in Kyle Crist (.488), Jordan Thurber (7 HR, 30 RBIs, .434) and Josh Green hoping to lead a repeat trip to the state tournament.

Despite the losses in pitching, Shives will be deeper with Crist and Josh Kehr as likely starters, along with Brian Lesher and Green. First baseman Thurber and shortstop Brandon Glazer could come in from their field positions as closers.

"We've got arms, but we're young," said Shives. "The pitching will be a work in progress. We've got a defensive nucleus back that made only nine errors last year."

The Blazers obviously will have a goal of winning the MVAL Antietam Conference first with eye toward a state repeat.

Grace Academy

Coach Mark Sandell has six starters returning, but needs to develop pitching to improve on last year's 6-8 mark.

"As a team, we have defensive strengths but we're working on the offense to score some runs," said Sandell.

Pitcher-first baseman Ken Frederickson, who hit over .500 last year, and senior Keith Sandell are the top two pitchers. Sandell is the only pitcher returning who owns a victory.

Grace will be missing Brandon Hess, who was injured in an automobile accident. Pat Salvagno, a pitcher last year, will be moved to shortstop because of health issues. Hess hit .429 and Salvagno .405 last year.

Hancock

Coach Brian Kerns has a quartet of players he'll lean on in an effort to play .500 ball after last year's 8-11 season.

Senior Nick Lanehart and sophomore Josh Smith should be the top two hurlers.

In the field, Kerns will be led by seniors Lucas Trunkle and Ben Hoopengardner in the outfield.

"If we can find some arms past the first two, then we'll be alright," said Kerns. "We might be a little weak offensively so we've got to play defense."

Hancock lost Jake Foreman and his .474 batting average to graduation.

Heritage Academy

Coach John Lowry said the Eagles have a lot of optimism for the season and are looking to improve on last year's 10-4 mark.

"I think we'll be good," he said. "You don't know about the competition, but I think we can rack up some runs and be strong defensively."

Seniors Cody Butts, a pitcher/shortstop and Andrew Hendershot, a pitcher/third baseman, are Heritage's leading returnees.

Lowry has Travis Barthalow at catcher while Seth Brewer, another senior, returns after sitting out last year.

North Hagerstown

Coach Steve Myers takes over the North helm and inherits a decent nucleus with seven returning starters, including a pair of pitchers.

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