Southern Maryland Dynasty outfielder Adrienne Draper knows how to take one for the team -- and she has a scar above her right eyebrow to prove it.
Draper, a rising senior at La Plata High School, was struck in the head by a pitch last month, during the 18-and-under Dynasty's first game of the Bay Country Moose tournament on Maryland's Eastern Shore. But after a visit to the hospital, where she received five stitches, Draper returned to Dynasty's lineup for three more games that same day.
"She went 3 for 3 in the next game and has been killing the ball ever since," said Dynasty Coach Dennis Brady. "That was tough. I didn't expect her back that day -- it was pretty ugly. But it didn't seem to affect her at all."
In recent weeks, Draper has not slowed down one bit. She went 6 for 11 with three RBI in five games the weekend after her injury to help Dynasty capture the National Softball Association state championship. Draper then batted a combined .700 in the Pennsbury Invitational (Yardley, Pa.) and Carolina Dynamites tournament (Columbia, S.C.) during the last two weeks.
"It knocked some sense into me," joked Draper, who plays catcher at La Plata and is playing her first summer with Dynasty. "Last high school season, I didn't hit as well as I usually do, but I am doing a lot better now. . . . I have been concentrating more and staying more relaxed. In high school, I worked myself up too much."
Draper will try to continue her hot hitting when Dynasty defends its title at Saturday's ASA Gold Central Atlantic Regional tournament at Fairland Regional Park in Laurel. The top two finishers at the four-team tournament will advance to the ASA Gold Nationals in Chattanooga, Tenn., later this month.
Dynasty, which placed 13th at Nationals last year and has posted a 31-5 record this summer, faces Catonsville at 9 a.m. in the opening game of double-elimination play on Saturday.
Merchants Fast Pitch, also based in Southern Maryland, will play the Shamrocks of Northern Virginia at 11 a.m., with games to follow every two hours thereafter. Merchants Fast Pitch is coached by Westlake Coach Allen Wilkerson and features All-Met Patty Brown of Westlake and second-team All-Met Devin Karcesky of Northern. One of the Shamrocks' top hitters is All-Met Renee Oursler of Northern, who has signed to play at the University of South Florida this fall.
Beating the Heat
The 16-and-under Chesapeake Raptors went 6-1 last weekend to place third at the Pony National Qualifier tournament in Sterling, Va., where play was delayed on Saturday after high temperatures sent four girls to the hospital with dehydration.
Katie Phelps of Calvert High, Charity Corrigan of Great Mills and Allison Smith of Patuxent tossed additional heat at opposing hitters while pitching the Raptors to two victories apiece. Chesapeake won its first six games, including all four on Saturday, by a combined score of 58-17 before falling to the Manassas Park Storm, 7-4, in Sunday's semifinals.
Kelly Miles (Calvert) paced the Chesapeake offense with a .480 batting average and 12 RBI in the tournament. Laura Shaw (Patuxent) batted .444 and collected nine RBI, and catcher Crystina White (Calvert) hit .381 and drove in 10 runs.
CAPTION: Adrienne Draper, left, has been on a torrid hitting streak since a pitch hit her in the head last month during a tournament.