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Chopticon

Head coach: Kevin Cioppa (fifth season, All-County COY)

Last year: 14-7, 9-3 (tied for third in SMAC with McDonough)

Athletes to watch: 1B Mary Norton (Sr.), OF Amber Wroble (Sr., All-County), 3B Bailey Rawlings (Sr., All-County), OF Jayci Cristaudo (Jr., All-County), 2B Audrey Nealis (Jr., All-County, All), OF Lauren Hirshman (Jr.)

Key personnel losses: P Kelly Sothoron (All-County AOY, All-SMAC), 1B Cheyenne Faunce (All-County, All-SMAC);

Strengths: Cioppa stated that his Braves team has some really good team chemistry. With that chemistry comes the players encouraging each other and supporting one another, which hopefully will lead to wins for the Braves.

Cioppa added that the team has a nice mix of older and younger players and that team chemistry has allowed the team to gel well.

Weaknesses: Cioppa admitted that his team may be young in some important positions on the field. He added, “There will probably be a learning curve.”

Coach’s comments: “I am excited about the upcoming softball season. We have a hard-working group of players, and they are a lot of fun to be around. ... We expect to play well and be competitive, and we will see where that takes us.”

Key games: March 21 at Great Mills, March 23 vs. St. Mary’s Ryken, April 13 at Leonardtown, April 8 at Huntingtown, May 1 at Northern

JAMES A. McCRAY III

Great Mills

Head coach: O.J. Lewis (11th season)

Last year: 7-13, 4-8 (tied for seventh in SMAC with Calvert, Leonardtown, North Point and Thomas Stone)

Athletes to watch: Lewis chose not to name individual players

Key personnel losses: OF Jasmine McCreery (Sr., injury)

Strengths: Lewis was happy to mention that the Hornets are fortunate to have the strength in the pitching circle this year between sophomores Chloe Day and Megan Visele and junior Jessica Miles. He added that the infield defense, supported by Maeghan Heyen and Jasmyn Berry and the catcher position, manned by Diana Cruz, will be strengths as the year goes on.

Weaknesses: Lewis said that his only outfield returner comes in the form of Jasmine Smith after McCreery tore her ACL during a scrimmage earlier this month, so that will be a focal point going into the year. However, he stated that Haley Squires, Kayla Perkins, Sara Luffey and Emily Kwasniak are each working hard to make the outfield a strength.

Coach’s comments: “As a young team, we have now had a season together to develop a great dynamic, and I know the team is expecting and looking forward to a successful season. Our goal is to finish in the top half of the conference and play deep into the playoffs. The players have dedicated themselves to strive for success and have been putting in the work as we move forward.”

Key games: March 21 vs. Chopticon, March 25 vs. Leonardtown, April 3 at Huntingtown, April 5 vs. Northern

JAMES A. McCRAY III

Leonardtown

Head coach: Kim Schrader (fourth season)

Last year: 6-12, 4-8 (tied for seventh in SMAC with Calvert, Great Mills, North Point and Thomas Stone)

Athletes to watch: P Jasmyn Ogletree (Jr.), C Abby Nelson (So.)

Key personnel losses: P/U Laura Welch (All-County)

Strengths: Schrader said the Raiders are a younger squad and have played as a team for the last couple of years together through the junior varsity program.

This group of girls play a lot of softball for school and outside of school, and their dedication and heart will shine through this season, according to Schrader. Many are on the same travel team, as well.

Weaknesses: Schrader said that her team is working on communication and that will help to cut down on the number of errors that occur. The loss of six seniors will be felt, as they played various roles on the 2012 team, whether in the field or in the lineup.

Coach’s comments: “I am looking forward to a great season with this group of girls. They are very talented group of girls. We have a lot of heart on this team and the willingness to strive for the best. All games are key games. We are going into every game with the same attitude and desire to win.”

Key games: March 21 at La Plata, March 25 at Great Mills, April 3 vs. Chopticon

TAMMY SHOWALTER

St. Mary’s Ryken

Head coach: Jim Sewell (third season) and Megan Elliott (first season)

Last year: 4-19, 4-12 WCAC

Athletes to watch: C Rachel Heinze (Sr., All-WCAC), 1B Jordan Aughinbaugh (Sr., All-WCAC), 3B Lindsay Heinze (So.), SS Tori Hughes (Jr.),

Key personnel losses: P/CF Dyana DeVore (All-County), 2B Emily Keller

Strengths: The team’s cohesion is strong, and the commitment to practice and skill development is evident. Sewell is also happy with the competent pitching he sees. Freshman Madison Aughinbaugh brings strong pitching as well as strong offense to the team.

Sewell said that Elliott brings a wealth of softball knowledge and expertise to the team. Elliott was a national champion and Arizona State University graduate. The 2006 Calvert High School graduate still holds the Cavaliers record of 22 shutouts in a row and of 18 batters struck out in a row, both handled in 2003.

Weaknesses: Sewell elected not to mention weaknesses, but the Knights will miss DeVore’s defense. Last year, she posted a 1.000 fielding percentage and connected for 13 hits and 26 putouts last season.

Key games: March 20 vs. Elizabeth Seton, March 22 vs. Paul VI (Va.), April 17 vs. Bishop O’Connell (Va.)

TAMMY SHOWALTER