North Point softball ready to go

North Point softball op­ti­mistic about up­com­ing sea­son

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

On a day in which the play­ers and coaches of the North Point High School softball team were quickly re­minded that win­ter had not en- tirely passed, the Ea­gles worked on var­i­ous in- field and out­field drills on Mon­day in prepara- tion for the up­com­ing sea­son opener.

Last sea­son, North Point sopho­more short­stop Ka- tie Delph emerged as one of the squad’s bud­ding stars and this year she is part of a solid re­turn­ing corps group of play­ers that in­cludes sib­ling bat- tery mates, se­nior pitcher Bri­anna Baker and ju­nior catcher Jae­lyn Baker. Delph will also bat lead­off, while the younger Baker oc­cu­pies the clean- up hit­ter spot in the or­der.

“I think we have goals of get­ting more wins and go­ing fur­ther than we did last sea­son,” said Delph, whose team is in the Class 4A East Re­gion along with fel­low South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence squad and de­fend­ing re­gion cham- pion Chop­ti­con. “There are some good teams in our league, like La Plata, Hunt­ing­town, Chop­ti­con and North­ern. That’s tough com­pe­ti­tion.”

Delph, who ran on North Point’s in­door track and field team dur­ing the win­ter and plays travel softball for the South­ern Mary­land Steam­ers based in Charles County, is ea­ger to uti­lize her skills at the plate, on the bases and in the field this spring for the Ea­gles. As the lead­off bat­ter, Delph brings speed and agility to the plate and she has am­ple range at short­stop.

“I think we’re go­ing to have a re­ally good in­field,” Delph said. “We have a lot of new play­ers, but the fresh­men have al­ready caught up. I like bat­ting lead­off. You have to be con­sis­tent and get on base. I like bunt­ing and slap­ping and then get­ting on base to be there when our other strong hit­ters come up.”

Jae­lyn Baker will be one of the Ea­gles re­lied upon to drive in Delph and other North Point hit­ters. And also, like most catch­ers, Jae­lyn Baker has de­vel­oped a solid work­ing re­la­tion­ship with her pitcher, older sister Bri­anna Baker. The tan­dem has been on the same page for sev­eral years now and they will be an­other key to the Ea­gles’ suc­cess this spring.

“I love work­ing with Bri­anna,” Jae­lyn Baker said of her older sister. “She knows what to ex­pect from me and I know what to ex­pect from her. We have a good team with a lot of good goals this year. It’s all about win­ning. We

want to win as many games as we can and get through the re­gion. Per­son­ally, I would like to hit more home runs and drive in more runs this year.”

The Ea­gles ended 2016 at 13-8 over­all with a sec­ond-place 9-2 in the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence’s Po­tomac Divi­sion last sea­son, one game be­hind La Plata, which claimed the 2A state ti­tle.

And while La Plata grad­u­ated the bulk of its lineup from last year’s team, North Point coach Tony Jones is blessed with re­turn­ing play­ers like Delph at short­stop and the Bak­ers as bat­tery mates. While Mon­day may not have been an ideal day to work on in­field and out­field drills as a win­ter storm loomed one week be­fore spring of­fi­cially ar­rives, Jones was pleased to see his play­ers con­tinue to progress.

“We have a good blend of re­turn­ing play­ers and new faces who are go­ing to play key roles for us,” Jones said. “Hav­ing Bri- ana and Jae­lyn as my bat­tery again is a big plus and Katie is an ex­cel­lent short­stop and lead­off bat­ter. I don’t think we have to worry about sur­pris­ing teams this spring. We have a good squad and I know the girls are ea­ger to see just how far we can go this sea­son.”

North Point will find out very early where it ranks among SMAC squads. The Ea­gles open the sched­ule March 22 at home against Chop­ti­con, then travel to North­ern two days later to face the Pa­tri­ots whose run of eight straight 3A state titles was fi­nally ended last May by Hunt­ing­town, the team’s fol­low­ing op­po­nent in a home con­test on March 27.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

North Point High School sopho­more short­stop Katie Delph fields a ground ball and piv­ots and looks to throw to first base dur­ing the Ea­gles’ prac­tice on Mon­day af­ter­noon. Delph, se­nior picher Bri­anna Baker and ju­nior catcher Jae­lyn Baker pro­vide the teamwith a solid corps group of re­turn­ing play­ers head­ing into the sea­son opener against de­fend­ing Class 4A East Re­gion cham­pion Chop­ti­con on March 22.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

North Point High School coaches and in­field­ers work on var­i­ous drills Mon­day af­ter­noon at prac­tice in prepa­ra­tion for the Ea­gles’ March 22 sea­son opener against de­fend­ing Class 4A East Re­gion cham­pion Chop­ti­con.

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