The only thing different about Bowie baseball team this season is that its coach, William (Bumps) Vaughan, retired after 20 years on the years, going out in grand style by winning the Maryland AA state title.
But Vaughan's assistant for eight years, Bill Seibert, took over the reins without at hitch, and that's why the Bulldogs look like a good bet to repeat as Prince George's County champions this season.
Bowie returns just one starter from last year's 21-1 team, but, as Seibert points out, it was nearly the same situation last year.
The Bulldogs, as usual, have some potent bats, as evidenced by the 55 runs they've scored in just four games this season. Leading the attack is senior third baseman Matthew Boyd, who hit .348 last year and is one of the finest fielders in the state. A welcome early surprise is senior transfer Tom Mystysyn, who has hit at an .833 clip.
The Bulldogs may need that type of hitting to hold off Crossland.
The Cavaliers (10-8 in 1984) have a new coach as well in Red Fahey, who led Oxon Hill to the state American Legion championship last summer. Eight of his American Legion players will play for the Cavaliers.
Returning on the mound is junior lefthander Paul Ludwig, who is described by Fahey as "one of the best pitchers in the state." He was 5-2 last season.
Hitting should come from senior 6-foot-6 first baseman James Hodges, center fielder Steve Wright, and powerful sophomore third baseman Hiram Wilcox (.333 last year).
DuVal Coach Bob Estes was excited about the prospect of returning three pitchers who combined for a 13-4 record last year.
"We'll go as far as they (the pitchers) go," Estes said. So far the trio of Tim Fitzgerald (5-1 in 1984) and brothers Bruce and Victor Ford (4-1 and 4-2, respectively) have done pretty well as the Tigers won their first three games. Bruce Ford and Fitzgerald combined to no-hit Crossland last week, 1-0.
The Tigers also have right fielder David Taylor (.385 last season), second baseman Steve Shegogue (.390) and first baseman Joey Borneman (.405).
Parkdale is off to a 3-0 start as Dave Pearson has shown good form on the mound.
Gwynn Park, which won its first three games this season, should be the class of the Prince George's A League. Rodd Snell hit grand slam home runs in each of the first two victories.
Central, another winner of its first three, should score a bucket of runs with catcher David Brandt leading the attack.
In the Montgomery AA League, Springbrook Coach Chris Quail says this may be a "rebuilding year," but most of the other coaches are not buying that contention.
The Blue Devils, 14-3 last year, scored 54 runs in their first three games this season, but lost to Whitman last week, 11-10.
First baseman Todd Wolfram is part of that attack, hitting .500 thus far after finishing .320 as a sophomore last year. He will also do some pitching. At second is senior George Barrett (.300 in 1984) and the shortstop is Robert Kuntz.
One new face is catcher Robert Cavanaugh, who quickly became the cleanup hitter.
Wheaton, which moved up from A, won its first three AA games this spring behind the strong pitching of Brad Rippetoe (a Peary transfer) and Ed Mahon.
The Knights can continue to stay near the top of the league with always-solid shortstop Randy Berlin and talented sophomores Steve Brown, Mike Horan and Craig Berlin.
Seneca Valley, 13-5 and a loser in the Class AA, Region II final to High Point last year, "will have to score a lot of runs" according to Coach Mike Long.
Leading the hitters are senior first baseman Andy Malloy, who hit .385 last year, outfielder/pitcher Paul Hayduc (.300) and senior center fielder Dan Division (.300). "You won't see any 3-2 or 2-1 ball games," Long said.
Churchill may be in many low-scoring ballgames. The Bulldogs have quality pitchers in Todd Emde and Scott Sorkin, but Sorkin was suffering with early-season elbow problems. Senior Bob Mylod moved from third to short and should help stabilize the infield, but Churchill may find runs hard to come by.
Wootton, 5-10 last year, returns one starter in Dave Delessandro (shortstop) and must find some help on the mound. Senior Jay Zukowski and Alan Ratti, who got off to a rocky start in a 9-3 loss to Wheaton last week, will probably handle most of the pitching.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase also is pitching thin, but Coach Bill Wright thinks his team has enough hitting to better last year's 8-8 mark.
The Barons return seniors Mike Murphy (pitcher), outfielder John Emekli (.300 last season) and shortstop Jamal Williams.
Blair, coming off a 1-14 season and facing problems of declining enrollment and no home field, does not have encouraging prospects for this year either. Coach Ed Smith will rely on senior Alec Andrews (.280 last season) and sophomore shortstop Chris Puglia.
In the Montgomery A, Paint Branch returns just two starters from last year's 12-4 county championship team, but Coach Paul Fahrner seems to have filled a number of holes with help from the junior varsity and some position shuffling.
Junior Robert Conrad, who hit .370 last year, moves from center field to shortstop this year, and may see some mound duty. Moving to center is Vince Jackson.
Scott Webster, who tossed a three-hit shutout in the season opener, will have to carry the pitching staff. First baseman Brant Brockhoff will probably double as the chief reliever.
Rockville has seven veterans back from an 11-5 effort in 1984. In addition to having speed and hitting, the Rams have Peary transfer Jeff Bonner (2-0), who tossed a two-hitter against the Panthers recently. Add third baseman Craig Fletcher (.600 so far), outfielder Mike Ricketts (.333) and shortstop Farron Riggs, and Rockville promises to be a factor.
The main thing Walter Johnson Coach Kim Ahearn is looking to improve this season is defense. Otherwise, the Spartans (7-9) are basically set. Ahearn's hopes are pinned on junior hurler Kerry Hughes, who threw only 89 pitches in a complete-game victory last week, and center fielder Paul Indeglia, who hit .462 last season.
"We might surprise a lot of people," said Ahearn.
Kennedy returns just two seniors from last year's 6-10 team. Much of the pitching burden falls upon sophomore Tommy Olmstead. Offensively, the Cavaliers have center fielder Curtis Pride (.325 last year), senior left fielder Andy Nicholas (.305) and junior third baseman Steve Grupe (.290).
Magruder, which finished 9-7 and qualified for the Class B playoffs last season, has to rebuild its pitching staff. Coach Andy Sidorick will alternate a number of players between the mound and their regular assignments, including third baseman Jim Cammarata (.346 last season.)
The Colonels also have long ball threats in John Schaberg, Jim Davis, who hit a grand slam earlier this season, and Brant Stogdale.