Unfortunately for Southern Maryland Dynasty head coach Dennis Brady, his 18-and-under softball team is without one of its two pitchers at this weekend's NSA Maryland state tournament in Frederick. Missy Baldwin, an All-Extra selection at Patuxent High School this past spring, is visiting Cancun on her senior class trip.
Fortunately for Brady, his other pitcher is Clarisa Crowell.
"She is our workhorse," Brady said of Crowell, the former two-time All-Met player of the year who pitched McDonough to four consecutive state titles from 1995 to 1998.
This past spring, Crowell was a freshman pitcher at Virginia Tech, where she helped the Hokies (54-16) enjoy their winningest season in school history. Crowell went 25-8 with a 1.03 earned-run average.
Now back home playing her sixth season with the Dynasty, Crowell is not concerned about the load she will have to shoulder this weekend, when her team likely will play at least three games each day in the tourney at Balinger Creek Park.
"I have been doing this for six years now, so it is really no big deal," Crowell said. "But it used to be a little easier before to pitch three games in a day than it is now, coming off a 70-game [college] season. . . . There is no offseason for softball."
Other Southern Marylanders joining Crowell and Baldwin on the Dynasty's roster this summer are second baseman Lisa Boone, an All-Met outfielder at Northern High who will play at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in the fall; shortstop Jen Peel, who played at Calvert High; outfielder Adrienne Draper, who is entering her senior year at La Plata; and Teri Hendricks, who just completed her freshman year at West Virginia Wesleyan but is currently out with a back injury.
Erin Waltersdorff and Jessica Fallica of Thomas Stone combined to form one of the best high school pitching tandems in Maryland this past spring, leading the Cougars to the 3A semifinals. But this summer, they will be throwing for different teams with pitching partners from rival schools in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Waltersdorff, who will be a senior this fall, is playing with 18-and-under Merchants Fast-Pitch, a team based in Southern Maryland that also includes players from Delaware and Virginia. Second-team All-Met pitcher Devin Karcesky, who will be a senior at Northern, joins her.
Fallica, a sophomore-to-be, is pitching for 16-and-under Sudden Impact, along with McDonough sophomore-to-be Erica Bates.
All-Met Patty Brown (Westlake) and All-Extra pick Kristie Pickeral (Thomas Stone) are also members of Merchants Fast-Pitch, which is playing in Frederick this weekend. Other 18-and-under teams competing from Southern Maryland include the Bayside Blues and the Merchants Diamonds, a team that features 1998 All-Met pitcher Candace Rice, formerly of Northern and currently at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Sudden Impact, which also is competing in Frederick and includes La Plata shortstop Kathleen Borden, won four straight games in last weekend's Mount Vernon Classic before falling, 5-4, to the Vienna Stars in the semifinals.
The 12-and-under Southern Maryland Merchants are playing in the NSA state championships in Libertytown this weekend. It is their first season competing at this age level after finding much success at 10-and-under last summer.
"We are struggling a little bit, but the kids are learning, and it is good experience for them," Coach Mark Barrows said. "The other teams are older and already have a year of experience playing in this age group."
Megan Barrows of Waldorf and Megan Cheseldine of La Plata are doing the bulk of the pitching for the Merchants. Tracy Webster and Lauren Clark of La Plata and catcher Autumn Boyd of Waldorf are among the team's leading hitters.
When Barrows or Cheseldine are not pitching, they play at second base. Rounding out the infield are Ashley Wilson at first, Maggie Donaldson at shortstop, and Carrie Reeves at third -- all of Waldorf. Amanda Campbell and Melissa Gallahan play several different positions, and the team's outfielders are Lindsay Horrell, Holly Laudenslager and Sarah Rybka.
CAPTION: Clarisa Crowell, who helped lead McDonough to four state titles before winning 25 games as a freshman at Virginia Tech, pitches in summer league play for the Southern Maryland Dynasty.