- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Softball ends on upnote, while baseball, golf finish below .500 mark overall
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
It was satisfaction on the diamond for one College of Southern Maryland team during the spring season and frustration for another Hawks squad.
CSM softball (20-12 overall) boasted a winning campaign for the third straight year — celebrating 20 victories for the second time in that span — since resurrecting the program in 2009 after being defunct for a couple of seasons.
With a fifth-place 14-8 Maryland Junior College Conference mark, CSM softball finished in the upper half of the 12-member league.
“This past season will be remembered for its success with a great group of ladies, talented players and great students,” CSM softball head coach Mike Garner said after completing his fourth year at the helm of the team. “We will miss those who are leaving to take the next step in their life. It was truly a pleasure to be with these ladies this year.”
Wins continued to come in sparing supply for CSM baseball (15-33, 6-21 Maryland JUCO), which dealt with a 10th-straight losing season while losing its most games since suffering 34 defeats in 2006. The team finished 14th out of 15 teams in the league and failed to qualify for the postseason in the regional tournament by percentage points, needing to be among the top eight Division II clubs in the Maryland JUCO.
There were hopes entering the spring that CSM baseball could flirt with .500 if not have produce a winning record.
“We had the talent to do a lot better than what we did,” CSM 12-year head coach Joe Blandford said. “The conference was so tough, and you have to have a lot of good players to compete at this level. A lot of [Maryland JUCO] colleges recruit all over the country. We recruit in the [Southern Maryland] area. Pretty much, the college wants us to have a certain percentage of [players] from the community. We do like to take care of our kids in the community, and we’ve had some good ones over the past years.
“But it’s hard to compete with colleges recruiting from all over. We just kind of fell off [this season].”
CSM softball capped the regular season in quality fashion by winning 10 of its final 12 games, setting the stage for its first postseason victory in three years. CSM softball drew a No. 4 seed for the Region XX tournament and made the most of having a May 3 home playoff game by dismantling Potomac State (W.Va.), 11-4.
The postseason win advanced the Hawks to the double-elimination final four of regionals where they ran into much more imposing foes, falling to Maryland Junior College Conference champion Catonsville (44-13), 6-4, on May 5 and then to Chesapeake (28-14), 15-2, on May 6 in the final game of their season.
Catonsville went on to claim the regional title, continuing its celebrated season, before dropping a pair of games at the national tournament. But Catonsville was “on the ropes,” as Garner put it, against CSM.
“We had a great run towards the end of the season,” Garner said. “I was very satisfied with the unity and heart they showed the whole year to get us to where we were. For the first time [in my tenure], we hosted a home playoff game. I thought [our playoff contest with Catonsville] was one of the best games we had played all year. We gave it a great run but came up short.”
The CSM baseball season was not without some highlights, splitting a March 31 doubleheader on the road at Maryland JUCO runner-up Catonsville (36-17) with a 6-4 win in the opener. Catonsville did cruise in the nightcap of that twin bill, 10-0.
About a week earlier on March 22, CSM baseball waxed a formidable Allegany opponent (29-19) in run-rule fashion, 12-1, to open a home doubleheader. But the inconsistent Hawks then turned around in the next game and lost, 3-1.
“All in all, [our team] hung in there and did a good job,” Blandford said. “Everyone fought to the end. We did compete, just lost a lot of close ballgames. We made mistakes here and there, and it cost us. We didn’t hit as we anticipated this year. We had our quality wins as well.”
Bidding farewellThe toughest part of the season for Garner is what came after his team’s games were completed.
“The saddest thing for me is losing four great sophomores — Kaylynn Balleaux (Thomas Stone, pitcher/utility player), Rachel Bilbra (La Plata, catcher), Lauren Fairfax (Great Mills, first baseman/third baseman, Kaitlyn Fernald (Chopticon, second baseman) — after a great run,” the CSM softball frontman said. “After [coaching] Rachel the last seven-plus years, Kaylynn the last four-plus years, Lauren the past three-plus years and Kaitlyn the last two years, it will be hard to fill those voids.
“We will also lose freshman Tiffany Agostinelli (La Plata, third baseman/utility) to the Navy.”
The good news for CSM softball — besides coming off another noteworthy campaign — is this past season’s talented freshman class, led by top pitching duo Kelci Therres (Stone) and Megan Windsor, promises to return eight players.
This past spring saw Therres possess the Maryland JUCO’s fourth-best ERA (2.00) in 32 games covering 66 2/3 innings. She posted an 8-4 record. Windsor was seventh in the league with a 2.94 ERA, going 6-4, in 17 games and 71 1/3 innings. She was also ninth in the Maryland JUCO with a strikeouts-per-inning ratio of .575.
Garner expects to have another solid recruiting class join next year’s experienced sophomores.
“We are looking forward to battling for the region next year,” he said. “I believe these returning sophomores will have great leadership into making next year another successful year.”
Blandford noted that “a bunch” of his players are headed to four-year schools, something the coach takes pride in despite the program’s record on the field.
“Junior college is basically a stepping stone,” he said.
Brandon Remailia (North Point), who was CSM’s center fielder the last two years and batted .300 in the spring, will be playing for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore next year.
Catcher Mitchell Seifert (Chopticon), fresh off a sophomore season that saw him put up the sixth-best fielding percentage in the conference at .973, is headed to Limestone College in South Carolina.
Pitcher David Sapp (Leonardtown), who won seven games for CSM baseball in the spring as a freshman, is hoping to be at Towson University next year, according to Blandford.
And Jared Eaker (Leonardtown) is looking to use his freshman year in the spring with CSM as a launching pad to attend Salisbury or St. Mary’s of Maryland next year. Despite a hurt ankle, the infielder still batted around .350.
Sophomore pitcher Kevin Bauer is also slated to go to Salisbury next year, Blandford said.
Wiseman excels for CSM golf
Sophomore Walt Wiseman headlined the postseason for CSM golf with a pair of top-three finishes individually at the Maryland JUCO tournament on April 26 and Region XX tournament on May 5.
Wiseman tied for second at the Maryland JUCO gathering and settled for third after losing on a playoff. He finished third at the regional competition, unable to hold on to his lead after an even-par 72 on Day 1 due to shooting an 81 in the second round.
Still, the regional showing was good enough to qualify Wiseman for the national Division II tournament at Swan Lake Resort in Indiana on May 22 to 25 as CSM’s lone representation on the grand stage.
Wiseman struggled at nationals with all four of his rounds in the 80s, his best coming on Day 1 with an 81. He finished his nationals appearance with a 339, 51 shots over par, in 116th place out of the 128 golfers there.
Capping his CSM career at nationals, Wiseman is headed to Maryland to finish his college studies but will probably not play golf there.
CSM golf finished at 16-17-1 overall, 16-12-1 in the Maryland JUCO during the regular season.
At the Maryland JUCO tournament, CSM was fourth among the six teams that scored. The Hawks posted a 351, 20 strokes behind tournament champion Harford.
CSM remained in the middle of the pack at the regional tournament, which saw Potomac State come away victorious.
“We did very well,” CSM head coach Ned Spearbeck said. “We had some gritty folks on the team that were completely new to competitive golf at the collegiate level and some that were new to competitive golf, period.”
Andrew Turgeon (Northern) and Alex Brown (Westlake) are slated to return to CSM golf next year for their sophomore seasons.