North Car­o­line Bull­dogs seek an­other big splash

Dorchester Star - - SPORTS - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

De­fend­ing state champs look tough, but un­beaten re­peat may be un­likely

The highly com­pet­i­tive North Bay­side pro­duced a state cham­pion last sea­son in un­de­feated North Car­o­line. With tal­ented play­ers con­tin­u­ing to evolve and ex­pe­ri­enced coach­ing through­out the divi­sion, an­other state cham­pi­onship is pos­si­ble, but stay­ing un­beaten through­out the up­com­ing sea­son doesn’t seem likely for any team.

The de­fend­ing Bay­side Con­fer­ence and Class 2A state cham­pion Bull­dogs will have to find a way to re­place their top pitcher from last sea­son Brea Bishop (17-0), now play­ing for Sal­is­bur y Univer­sity. Last year, the Bull­dogs topped Queen Anne’s and Eas­ton in the 2A East Re­gion Sec­tion II play­offs be­fore nip­ping Ris­ing Sun, 9-8, in the re­gion fi­nal. The Bull­dogs also edged North Re­gion cham­pion East­ern Tech, 3-2, in the state semi­fi­nal be­fore a con­vinc­ing 8-1 vic­tory over South champ South Car­roll in the state fi­nal.

Mardela reigned as the 1A East cham­pion, top­ping St. Michaels, 7-2, in the re­gion fi­nal. The War­riors’ sea­son ended with a 5-0 set­back in the state semis to even­tual state cham­pion Bo­hemia Manor. The Saints reached the re­gion fi­nal with an 8-5 vic­tory over Colonel Richard­son and a 10-1 win over North Dorchester.

Colonel Richard­son reached the 1A East Sec­tion I fi­nal with a 15-0 vic­tory over Kent County af­ter the Tro­jans opened their post­sea­son with a 9-7 win over Cam­bridge-South Dorchester. Will any team dom­i­nate the Bay­side Con­fer­ence sea­son like North Car­o­line last year or St. Michaels the year be­fore that? We’re go­ing to find out.

Here’s a look at this year’s teams:

Cam­bridge-SD

The Vik­ings in­tro­duce ninth-grader Maddie Pleas­ants on the mound. Pleas­ants has ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing travel ball for the Delaware Di­a­monds.

“Al­though we are still ver y young, these girls have a lot of heart and work very hard to­gether,” Vik­ings head coach Ka­reem Otey said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to them grow­ing to­gether through­out the sea­son and see­ing the great things they ac­com­plish.”

Sopho­more Ariah Matos starts at catcher. Brooke Wind­sor, a ju­nior, is at first

base. Sopho­more De­lanie Henry plays sec­ond, ninth-grader Chloe War­rel third, and ju­nior Maddie Led­num short­stop.

The Vik­ings’ out­field­ers are left fielder Adri­enne Kane (Jr)., cen­ter fielder Abby Robin­son (Jr.), and right fielder Natalie Kerr (Fr.).

The Colonels, who went 16-4 last sea­son, lost the ser­vices of Mor­gan Wil­loughby, Cam­ryn Plugge, and Gabby Galante to grad­u­a­tion, but re­turn plenty of skill.

Top re­turn­ers are Kaylie Moore (Sr., short­stop), Jen Lar­ri­more (Jr., pitcher/in­field), Megan Stubbs (So., catcher), Cas­sidy Stubbs (So., 3B), and Rea­gan Tull (Jr., out­field). Tal­ented new­com­ers in­clude Madi­son Covey (Fr., in­field) and Marissa Hyland (Fr. pitcher/in­field).

“We hope to be strong up the mid­dle with our catcher, short­stop, and pitcher re­turn­ing,” head coach Brett Ire­land said. “We need to con­tinue to work hard and im­prove through­out the sea­son. Hope­fully we are play­ing our best when the play­offs come around. Our play­off re­gion got tougher this year with Bo Manor and Per­ryville com­ing into it, so we want to be play­ing our best when the play­offs come around.”

Eas­ton, led by Joy Ko­lakowski on the mound, went 15-4 over­all last sea­son and 10-2 in the North.

The War­riors may be start­ing as many as five fresh­men, but they also may have a for­mi­da­ble se­nior on the mound in left-han­der Pey­ton Elzey.

In 2016, Elzey only al­lowed 45 hits in 47.6 in­nings for a 2.79 earned-run av­er­age, while strik­ing out 47 bat­ters. Her time was lim­ited last sea­son due to in­jury, but she played with a travel team, the Gold Coast Hur­ri­canes 18U Na­tional Team, last sum­mer. In 65 in­nings pitched, she al­lowed just 45 hits and 22 earned runs for a 2.36 ERA.

Ninth-grader Udairi Jack­son will play catcher. The in­field looks like Jess Mil­lard (Fr.) at first, Olivia Ball (So.) at sec­ond, Chloe Briner (Fr.) at third, and Olivia Brown (Fr.) at short­stop. Start­ing out­field­ers will likely be Megan Ko­lakowski (Jr.) in left, Kate Chap­ple (Fr.) in cen­ter, and Charlotte Frase (Sr.) in right. Megan Ket­ter­ing (So.) will DH.

“We have a young team this year but look to be com­pet­i­tive,” War­riors head coach Jen Pow­ell said. “This team is very close and more of a fam­ily al­ready. Ex­cited for the sea­son with a won­der­ful group girls that are ea­ger to learn and com­pete.”

Michelle Phillips has been coach­ing one sport or an­other for many years at her alma mater, and she is bring­ing an “old school” ap­proach of dis­ci­pline, hard work and em­pha­sis on the fun­da­men­tals to her new­est as­sign­ment as the var­sity soft­ball skip­per. She also is bring­ing along vet­eran coach Doug Wal­ters.

Last year, the duo of Phillips and Wal­ters led Kent’s ju­nior var­sity to a 9-2-1 record.

The top play­ers on the jayvee team — in­clud­ing MVP Mat­tie Ce­sarini — have been called up to var­sity.

“The girls want to play and learn. I am ex­cited about how well they can do if we can learn to play as one unit and limit er­rors,” Phillips said.

Re­turn­ing from last year’s 6-13 var­sity squad are pitcher Lexi Lan­gen­felder, catcher Lau­ren Ed­wards and the in­field of first base­man Macy Willis, sec­ond base­man Ash­ley Met­zbower, short­stop Lily Trego, and third base­man Ally Hick­man.

Ev­ery­one else is new, in­clud­ing fresh­man Maddy Ken­dall, who can play the out­field or first base.

The out­field­ers are Jaime Heavlow and Jil­lian Hyland in left, Ce­sarini in cen­ter, and Ken­dall in right.

The Bull­dogs

“We had a great sea­son last year, but that is done with and this is a new sea­son,” head coach An­drea Ward said. “We know that we have to come out this year and put in a lot of time and hard work ev­ery day be­cause there is a lot of great com­pe­ti­tion in our divi­sion and in the Bay­side. Our motto last year was ‘One game at a time’ and that still holds true this year; we are just hop­ing to be com­pet­i­tive with all of the strong teams that we are about to face. We are lucky enough to have a great group of girls that love each other and love put­ting in the time and they are ready to play the game that they know and love.”

Se­niors Emily Ward, Macken­zie Werner, and Megan Rob­bins, and sopho­more Sarah Kin­top all may see time on the mound when they’re not play­ing in the field. Se­nior Sarah Mast re­turns be­hind the plate. Ken­dall Dixon (Sr.) plays sec­ond and ei­ther Hay­den Smith (Jr.) or Lau­ren Wil­liamson (So.) will play third. Out­field­ers are se­niors Abi­gail Trice in left, Ali­son Ward in cen­ter, and Aza­lie Haro in right.

Dixon home­red in the first in­ning for North Car­o­line in the state fi­nal last sea­son, and Rob­bins knocked in all three Bull­dog runs in the state semi­fi­nal and three runs in the fi­nal.

aren’t rest­ing on

their

lau­rels.

Head coach Clark Har­ri­son said the Ea­gles are young but ex­cited.

“Af­ter los­ing five se­niors last year we have a young team but have high ex­pec­ta­tions for be­ing com­pet­i­tive with the best,” Har­ri­son said. “We have a solid in­field and out­field de­fen­sively to keep us in con­tention and strong bats from top to bot­tom in the bat­ting lineup. We’re young, but we are com­ing to play ball. The girls are ex­cited and look for good sea­son.”

The Ea­gles start­ing lineup looks like LeAnn As­plen (Jr.) on the mound with Rachel Wind­sor (Jr.) be­hind the plate. Mag­gie Meil­hap­per (So.) is at first, Kara Rob­bins (Fr.) at sec­ond, Lily Allen (Fr.) at third, and Brooke Hard­ing (Sr.) at short­stop. Out­field­ers are Abi­gail Cal­la­han (Fr.) left field, Mered­ith Coul­bourne (So.) in cen­ter, and Sa­van­nah Wind­sor (Fr.) in right.

St. Michaels fin­ished 15-6 last sea­son with a 9-4 record in the North. McKenna Brown­ing re­turns for her se­nior sea­son to lead the Saints on the mound and at third base.

“We’re pleased with our progress, con­sid­er­ing the weather this pre­sea­son, but re­al­ize we are still learn­ing and have a long way to go to fill some of the po­si­tions va­cated by our grad­u­at­ing group last year,” Saints head coach Dave Fisher said. “The girls have been work­ing hard de­spite the weather. With a mix of ex­pe­ri­ence and some very good fresh­men we feel once again we should be able to com­pete in the al­ways strong Bay­side.”

Se­nior starters are Jor­dan Bate­son (OF), Car­o­line Lenki­wiecz (1B, Util.), Jas­mine Robin­son (OF, 1B), and Gra­cyn Col­born (OF). Ju­niors are Layla Berry (C), Sa­van­nah Ste­wart (3B, 1B, P), and Jozie Wil­son (2B, OF). Sopho­mores are Sin­cere Taylor (SS) and Kate Lenki­wiecz (2B, OF), and ninth­graders are Kristin Led­num (OF, 2B, SS, P) and Han­nah Seek (1B, P).

Kent County News writer Tr­ish McGee contributed to this ar­ti­cle.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss / email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cam­bridge-South Dorchester’s Mad­di­son Led­num drives a pitch to left against Colonel Richard­son.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Dorchester’s Leann As­plen blasts three-run homer against Cam­bridge-SD. her

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