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St. Mary’s Ryken and its softball team has welcomed Megan Elliott with open arms.

Elliott, a national champion at Arizona State University, is now the associate head coach of the Knights softball squad and will be working alongside head coach Jim Sewell.

“Megan is the co-manager, and she is fantastic,” Sewell said. “The girls are inspired by her and listen to her teachings. ... You will notice a team that loves the fastpitch softball game and comes to compete.”

Elliott is a 2006 graduate of Calvert High School and still holds the Cavaliers’ record of 22 shutouts in a row and of 18 batters struck out in a row, both handled in 2003.

Elliott, also a member of the USA softball junior women’s national team, finished her collegiate career in 2010 at Arizona State and was a member of the pitching staff. She left the university ninth in all-time career wins with 59 and 10th in career strikeouts with 372.

“They have a great opportunity to be mentored by an outstanding coach who played and succeeded at the highest level of softball,” Ryken athletic director Dave Tallman said. “I look forward to watching our program grow under coach Sewell and coach Elliott.”

At Ryken, Elliott will be working more specifically with freshman pitcher Madison Aughinbaugh. Elliott believes that Aughinbaugh, even as a freshman, is ready for the responsibilities of pitching in a tough Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

“Madison is doing well. She’s working hard,” Elliott said. “She’s most definitely ready, and if not, it will be a learning experience for her. There’s going to be ups and downs, but she’s ready to jump in there.”

Elliott, a teacher at Evergreen Elementary School in California, will be at the home games this season as her new job will not enable her to be at the away games. She’s looking forward to the first home game, a scheduled 4 p.m. contest today against WCAC foe Elizabeth Seton.

Ryken traveled to Bishop O’Connell (Va.) on Friday and fell to the defending conference champions, 2-0.

Sewell said that O’Connell pitcher Tori Finucane was at her best.

“We applied pressure by creating baserunners,” Sewell said. “We could not produce the key hit with baserunners in scoring position. O’Connell produced hits with runners in scoring position.”

Finucane connected with a timely RBI single in the bottom of the first inning to put O’Connell up by one run, and O’Connell went on to pick up the win.

Aughinbaugh produced two hits and a walk to create baserunners for Ryken. She pitched six innings, gave up six hits, struck out seven batters and walked just two.

Pitching duties

Chopticon is eager to get the season underway and will have two freshmen handling the pitching duties, with Andrea Davis and Valerie Hammett as head coach Kevin Cioppa’s go-to arms.

“She’s [Davis] blending in well. We have good team chemistry,” Cioppa said. “Valerie [Hammett] will also play shortstop. We faced a variety of pitching [in scrimmage play]. The toughest was probably against C.M. Wright.”

Cioppa hopes to continue the success this season. The Braves finished tied for third place in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference with McDonough, the Class 2A South Region champions who fell in the state final, a season ago at 9-3 to go along with a 14-7 overall record.

“Every year is a new year. We’re optimistic.” Cioppa said.

Leonardtown head coach Kim Schrader will have Jasmyn Ogletree in the pitching circle again this year.

“She is doing really well,” Schrader said. “We scrimmaged Ryken the Friday before last, and she did very well on the mound. She is looking forward to Thursday [the first game of the regular season against La Plata, a nonconference contest at 4:30 p.m.] and ready to get the season into full swing.”

Great Mills head coach O.J. Lewis is happy to have sophomores Chloe Day and Megan Visele back this season, and junior Jessica Miles, who transferred from Leonardtown mid-season last year, is a third arm for Lewis and the Hornets.

Great Mills will host Chopticon at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in a nonconference contest to start the regular season.