Broad Run sophomore right-hander Jenny Clohan has perhaps the toughest role to fill in any team sport this season. She is taking over for Christy Anch, the two-time All-Met Player of the Year who graduated last spring after setting the Virginia single-season and career records for strikeouts.
Clohan looked very Anch-like in a season-opening 13-0 victory at James Wood on Monday, throwing a no-hitter and striking out 12. Clohan pitched just one inning last season, but Spartans Coach Ed Steele says she throws as hard as her predecessor, which will make Broad Run anything but an easy target this season.
"They really didn't come close to her" for much of the game, Steele said. "She's a lot like Anch in that if she gets down [in the count] 3-0 or 3-1, she can throw it down the middle" and still strike out batters.
Coincidentally, the one spot in which Clohan did not overwhelm was at the plate, where she was a strong No. 4 hitter last season, batting behind Anch. Accustomed to facing faster pitching, Clohan went 0 for 3 against James Wood's much slower arms. That did not bother Steele a bit.
"I told her after the game, 'I don't care if you never get another hit. Just keep getting no-hitters for us,' " Steele said.
Raiders' Strong Arms
The Loudoun County baseball team seems to have reloaded the pitching depth that carried it to the Region II semifinals a year ago.
Despite having scant varsity pitching experience at the start of this season, senior right-handers Chris Anderson and Tyler Modzelesky have assumed the roles of graduated All-Extras Mike Puckli and Danny Anderson and could keep the Raiders in contention to repeat as Dulles District champions.
Anderson allowed one hit in five innings Monday in a 9-1 victory over Liberty. Despite only three short varsity appearances last season, Anderson struck out eight, keeping the Eagles off-balance by changing speeds well.
Modzelesky finished with two innings of no-hit relief. Five days earlier, he did not allow James Wood a hit for three innings and held on for a 3-2 victory. Anderson and Modzelesky also split time at shortstop.
"These are the two pitchers we're going to need as we get ready for district play," said Loudoun County Coach Tom Lucero, who has five returning starters from last year. "We don't have a flamethrower so, obviously, we want them to hit their spots."
As long as they do that, the Raiders' lineup should be able to produce enough run support. Loudoun County (1-2) had 10 hits against Liberty.
Anderson and senior Jeff Richards were the two best hitters in the postseason last year, and Richards has picked up where he left off. He had six hits in the Raiders' first three games after moving from the bottom third of the order to lead off.
"As a senior, he needs to be more aggressive," Lucero said. "He's gotten stronger, he runs well, so he was a logical choice" to move into the leadoff spot.
Eagles' Pitching Depth
Pitching depth is not as paramount in softball, since teams often have a pitcher who throws nearly every inning during the season. Nevertheless, Liberty has plenty of depth, and it is coming in very handy.
Junior right-hander Tori Hill, the ace and an all-Northwestern District selection last season, injured her right knee on a routine pitch in the Eagles' season-opening 4-2 victory at Stone Bridge on March 17. Junior Megan McClintock, the No. 2 pitcher last season, pitched the Eagles to a 9-3 victory over Heritage four days later.
McClintock started Monday's game at Loudoun County, and Liberty (3-0) led, 2-1, after two innings before she was replaced by sophomore Mandy Selvage, who played varsity sparingly last season when she was not the junior varsity's top pitcher.
Selvage yielded one hit over the next four innings and, after allowing a run on three hits in the bottom of the seventh, struck out a batter with two runners on base to end the game and give Liberty a 3-2 victory.
Neither McClintock nor Selvage is as overpowering as Hill, but Coach Charlie Padgett said his veteran infield is capable of taking care of the ball in play.
"We're used to getting 10 or 11 strikeouts [each game] from Tori," Padgett said. "We're only getting about half as many" from McClintock and Selvage. "But as long as the defense does what it should, we'll be fine."
Padgett said he will not know the prognosis on Hill until today. He said she could miss as little as one week or miss the rest of the season.
-- Compiled by