Design Corps Post 82

Coach: Dan Devitis (La Plata High head coach)

The La Plata-based team is off to the area's best start with a 4-0 record. Design Corps returns eight players from last year's team, which finished third in the league with an overall record of 25-22-1.

"So far, we're hitting the ball really well," Devitis said. "And we're getting decent pitching, too. But we have been struggling with defense. We're making too many errors, allowing too many guys on base and forcing our pitchers to throw too many pitches. We have to cut down on those mistakes quickly."

Among the team's leaders are current and former La Plata standouts Lee Quade and Derek Devitis (1998 graduate) and Westlake shortstop Mike Mills. There are also some newcomers who are making an impact, including Robbie Pashkevich of Westlake. The 16-year-old was given an opportunity to start in right field in the team's third game of the season, against Wheaton, and went 3 for 3 with a double and a triple in Design Corps's 10-5 win.

Pos. Name High School

3B/P Kenny Bragg La Plata

RF Jason Boyd Westlake

2B/P Ian Campbell McDonough

1B/P Mike Deavers La Plata

1B/P Derek Devitis La Plata

P Sean Dunaway McDonough

3B Kenny Graff Lackey

LF Jason Hill Westlake

C B.J. Kittle McDonough

SS Mike Mills Westlake

OF Robbie Pashkevich Westlake

P David Payne La Plata

CF Darren Peterson McDonough

1B/P Lee Quade La Plata

2B/P Francis Reidy La Plata

P T.J. Thompson La Plata

C Travis Yates La Plata

Chaney Enterprises

Coach: Ed Glaeser (Thomas Stone High head coach)

A 2-3 start to the season doesn't sit well with tradition-rich Chaney Enterprises, of Waldorf, which finished with a 37-13 overall record and a 24-3 league mark last season. Chaney has won the league six straight years, and has captured seven league championships, three state, and one regional title this decade -- so it will no doubt look for a quick answer to this season's early struggles.

Part of the problem, surprisingly, has been pitching. Though they boast Thomas Stone graduate Nick Vitielliss, the area's top player, Chaney has lost Cougar graduate Griffin Zarbough for the season to mononucleosis. Favorites to replace Zarbough at the No. 2 spot in the rotation are Mike Boyce, Nike Rose and Mike Wagner.

"Pitching was supposed to be our strength, that is what was going to carry us," Glaeser said. "And we do still believe we have guys who can get the job done, but losing Griffin hurts. Offensively, we're not strong at all, and defensively we're average at best. We have to be able to get better."

Pos. Name High School

C/P Mike Balenger Westlake

P Mike Boyce Westlake

1B Chris Cadden St. Mary's Ryken

OF Robert Connolly McDonough

OF Mike Finamore Thomas Stone

C Philip Frischholz Thomas Stone

U Kyle Gallo Thomas Stone

1B Russell Howard Thomas Stone

OF Scott Hutchinson Thomas Stone

2B John Kehres Thomas Stone

3B/P Kenny Myers Thomas Stone

U Alex Quiroz Thomas Stone

OF Tim Ritter McDonough

1B/P Nick Rose Westlake

OF/P Mike Wagner McDonough

OF/P Roger Welch St. Mary's Ryken

P/SS Nick Vitielliss Thomas Stone

P Griffin Zarbough Thomas Stone

Calvert County

Coach: Carl Smith (Northern High head coach)

Last year, in its first season under Smith's direction, Calvert finished just 3-27 overall. Fans in the county are anxious to see if Smith can have the same kind of turn-around effect on his Legion team this season as he did this year on the Northern Patriots, which placed second after finishing last in the SMAC in 1998 before his arrival. Smith said he is already commited to turning around this year's 1-3 start.

"We've got to get moving in the right direction in a hurry," Smith said. "And we know that. We've got some talented ballplayers. We just have to show them how to put it all together."

Leading the team early have been Calvert High standouts Travis Mister and Timmy Coyne, and Northern's all-around threat, Chad Hall. Coyne is the team's leading slugger, going 10 for 15 in his first three games.

Pos. Name High School

3B/P Brian Bauer Calvert

3B/P Jason Connell St. John's

3B/SS Timmy Coyne Calvert

C Bryan Dockery Northern

P/OF Justin Drahein Calvert

C/OF Brendan Galligan Calvert

1B/P Tommy Griffin Northern

U Chad Hall Northern

1B/C Nick Karwoski Patuxent

2B/OF Derrick Ludlow Northern

OF Jordan Marshall Northern

P/1B Travis Mister Calvert

OF Brian Naecker Northern

OF Kris Palensky Northern

OF Justin Sacker Northern

P/U Jake Skillen Northern

OF Lonnie Spires Patuxent

P/OF Kenny Williams Calvert

St. Mary's Post 255

Coach: Don DeGraves

St. Mary's is off to a slow start -- 0-4 in league play -- but expects to pick up the pace when its full team returns to action. DeGraves said his team has been far short of its 18-man roster on game days because of high school graduations and subsequent trips to the beach for Senior Week.

"A lot of our kids haven't even been out yet," DeGraves said. "The four games we've played so far we did with just 12 or 13 people, so we haven't even finalized what would traditionally be called a starting roster yet. We're still pulling together as a team, and hopefully when we finally do we'll be able to cut down on the six to eight errors we've been riddled with every game so far."

Expected to lead St. Mary's are Leonardtown standouts Kevin Burch and Tracy Vallandingham, two first-team All-Extra selections who propelled the Raiders to the Maryland 3A state championship game just two weeks ago. Others to keep an eye on include Great Mills pitcher Chris Radford and second baseman/pitcher Dan Sidorowicz of St. Mary's Ryken.

Pos. Name High School

3B Ronnie Bishop St. Mary's Ryken

P/OF Kevin Burch Leonardtown

2B Jesus Cortinas Great Mills

C Eric Franc Leonardtown

C/P Kevin Franc Leonardtown

2B/P Ty Harmon St. Mary's Ryken

SS/P Justin Heimer Leonardtown

OF Tavis Maddox Great Mills

P/OF Tim McNey Chopticon

U Brad Newkirk Chopticon

P/OF Chris Radford Great Mills

1B Lee Russell Chopticon

P/OF Ricky Russell Chopticon

P/OF Mike Shutty Leonardtown

2B/P Dan Sidorowicz St. Mary's Ryken

P/1B Erik Thorstensen Great Mills

SS/2B Tracy Vallandingham Leonardtown

1B Wyatt Wiggins Leonardtown

Illness Disarms Pitcher Zarbough

Griffin Zarbough had gotten used to being in charge. That's what having a dominating season can do to a young pitcher. And that's why it was so frustrating when something he could not control took baseball away from him for the summer.

The recent Thomas Stone High School graduate, one of the area's top pitchers, was diagnosed Friday with mononucleosis after battling symptoms that included severe headaches and swollen lymph nodes for more than two weeks. Doctors have recommended that Zarbough avoid contact sports for three months in order to eliminate the danger of rupturing his spleen, which swells in mononucleosis patients.

A three-month layoff means Zarbough will miss what would have been his second season for Chaney Enterprises, an American Legion team in Waldorf. He also will be unable to play for Team Maryland, an all-star squad he was selected to after a near-flawless senior season for the Cougars in which he posted a school-record 0.29 earned-run average and 67 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. (Team Maryland will represent the state at the Sun Belt Tournament in Oklahoma this summer.)

Chaney is off to a 2-3 start, but Zarbough has not felt well enough to even attend any of the team's first five games. Though he said he expects to start feeling better in a few days, and thus be able to get out and cheer for his teammates, doctors have warned that the infection won't be completely out of his system for three to six months.

"I had such big expectations for this season and now I'm out," said Zarbough, sounding both physically drained and emotionally disappointed. "I believe things happen for a reason, and I guess I'll find out later down the road why this had to happen to me now. ... I'll have to make up for it when I get to college."

That chance will come as early as this fall, when Zarbough will begin playing for Wallace State Community College in northern Alabama.

Ed Glaeser, head coach of both Thomas Stone and Chaney Enterprises, said the Legion team will miss Zarbough's precision this summer.

"He wins 90 percent of the games he throws and he was going to start 12 or so games for us this summer," said Glaeser, whose team is the six-time defending Legion champion. "He was having such a good year in high school, we thought it was going to continue."

Nobody wishes that was the case more than Zarbough, who is already anxiously awaiting his return to the mound.

"I think what I'm going to miss most this summer is that feeling of being up on the mound, not knowing what is going to happen next," said Zarbough, a first-team all-SMAC and All-Extra selection this past spring. "But still, every time I'm in that situation I feel like I'm in complete control. I know when I'm up on the mound I'm going to win. It's a feeling of control -- and it's so opposite from what I`m feeling now."

CAPTION: Griffin Zarbough, shown pitching for Thomas Stone against Northern, was named to a state all-star team after posting a 0.29 earned-run average and 67 strikeouts in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.