Fly­ing the flag

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

be­cause we com­peted all year against each other. We make each other bet­ter.”

There is no ques­tion the par­ity within the con­fer­ence isn’t what it used to be. Ten years ago any team re­ally could beat any other any day. It’s a cliché, but it was the truth. To­day there are clear haves and have-nots, un­for­tu­nately, but with that said this year marked the first time since 1982 that two SMAC teams won state cham­pi­onships in the same year. And it wasn’t very far from be­ing even big­ger.

Leonard­town won the 4A East Re­gion, typ­i­cally one of the tough­est in the state, top­pling Anne Arun­del County’s Sev­erna Park on the road. The Raiders then came within an eye­lash of earn­ing a spot in the 4A fi­nal be­fore los­ing to Mont­gomery County’s Quince Or­chard, the even­tual 4A run­ner-up, in the state semi­fi­nals.

Then with McDonough in the 1A clas­si­fi­ca­tion, which makes sure things re­main a lit­tle busier for us, SMAC was very nearly rep­re­sented in the state semi­fi­nals in all four clas­si­fi­ca­tions. The Rams, the 1A run­ners-up in 2015, lost to Har­ford County’s Pat­ter­son Mill in the 1A North Re­gion fi­nal. Pat­ter­son Mill ul­ti­mately lost in the 1A cham­pi­onship game.

For La Plata, Mon­day af­ter­noon’s 4-1 win over Wil­liamsport of Wash­ing­ton County ended an eight-year jour­ney try­ing to climb back to the top. In 2008, the War­riors rolled to the 3A ti­tle, the first in the pro­gram’s his­tory. In the years be­tween La Plata was al­ways close, win­ning sev­eral re­gional cham­pi­onships and fin­ish­ing as the 3A run­ner-up in 2011 and 2013. But on Mon­day, the team fi­nally took the big­ger tro­phy back home again.

“For us it’s the sec­ond state cham­pi­onship in school his­tory and it’s my first,” said fifth-year La Plata head coach John Childers. “I told the boys they’re not the most tal­ented team, but they play to­gether and they fight and work hard and are coach­able, and that means a lot more than hav­ing a ton of tal­ent. For us, that’s what it means.

“For the con­fer­ence, we play good base­ball. Peo­ple in South­ern Mary­land love base­ball and they sup­port base­ball and we’re al­ways go­ing to be good. Whether it’s us or Hunt­ing­town or Leonard­town or any of the schools that made the fi­nal four, the peo­ple care about base­ball and it shows on the field.”

In 2006, Ian Sch­walen­berg was the win­ning pitcher in Hunt­ing­town’s state semi­fi­nal win over Franklin. On Mon­day night he was the Hur­ri­canes’ first-base coach when they fi­nally got the state-cham­pi­onship mon­key off their col­lec­tive back. As a player then and a coach now, the con­fer­ence has al­ways had a place to­wards the top in the state in his opin­ion.

“It’s a qual­ity, qual­ity base­ball con­fer­ence,” he said on Mon­day night. “You have to pre­pare. We did a good job of pre­par­ing as a team, and I don’t think any op­po­nent is easy, es­pe­cially when it comes play­off time . ... North­ern, an in-county ri­val, I be­lieve they were some­where around a .500 team in the reg­u­lar sea­son. They’re a good ball­club. When you come into re­gion­als, you’re fac­ing county and SMAC teams, it’s a le­git con­fer­ence. It’s one of the bet­ter con­fer­ences in the state. You al­ways have to pre­pare game-by-game and not treat any­one any dif­fer­ently.”

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