There's one thing that Missy Baldwin may want to avoid when she and her teammates on the Southern Maryland Dynasty depart today for the American Softball Association Gold 18-and-under national tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn.: French toast.

During her senior class trip to Cancun earlier this summer, a batch left Baldwin with a severe case of food poisoning. The Patuxent High graduate and pitching standout was forced to return home three days early, and she missed Dynasty's softball tournament in Pennsylvania the following weekend.

But perhaps the most painstaking experience for Baldwin came one week later. Dynasty Coach Dennis Brady replaced her with a relief pitcher during a tournament game in South Carolina.

"That just doesn't happen to me," Baldwin said of the pitching change. "It never happened in high school, and it has been so long, I don't even remember the last time. It really shakes you up when you are pulled out of a game you started. It made me realize that I needed to start doing things better."

She has been ever since. Baldwin fired a pair of shutouts in the ASA Gold Central Atlantic Region qualifier in Laurel on July 10. She then tossed three more shutouts to help Dynasty win the 25-team Pegasus Invitational in Pennsylvania for the second consecutive year. Last weekend, Baldwin yielded just one earned run in three games as Dynasty successfully defended its title at the Bayside Blues Invitational in Calvert County.

"I got healthy, practiced a lot more, and changed my game style a little bit," Baldwin said. "I started setting up batters better with the pitches that I knew were working."

Brady said that food poisoning "took away her stamina to the point where she was barely well enough to even sit on the bench. It really set her back a good three weeks. But now she is back pitching like her old self. She has been exceptional these past two tournaments, virtually unhittable."

Her timing couldn't be better for Dynasty, which will compete against approximately 56 teams at the prestigious double-elimination tournament that begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday. The Dynasty finished 13th at the tournament last year.

"This is what we play the whole summer for," said Baldwin, who has earned an athletic scholarship to Furman University. "We have all been to ASA Nationals before. We know what to expect and what we need to do in order to win."

Twins Triumph at Tournament

The St. Mary's County Twins softball team won all three of its games in the Lou Zwick Memorial Invitational Tournament at Chancellor's Run Regional Park last weekend to capture the Major Little League Softball title.

Amy Carroll, Erica Smith and Katherine Hamilton each contributed a sacrifice fly in the Twins' 5-1 victory over Western Charles. St. Mary's pitcher Amanda Kinder fired a shutout, Beth Woodburn connected for an RBI double and Mary Patrick Ball added a two-run single in the Twins' 21-0 win over the Calvert National Devil Rays. And the defense of Jenna Woodburn, Erin Woodburn and Smith helped pitcher Lacey Trossback collect her second victory of the tournament, as the Twins defeated the Hughesville Marlins, 9-3.