Gwynn Park, Douglass on Top
The Prince George's 3A/2A/1A League's baseball season is fewer than two weeks old, but Gwynn Park and Douglass have emerged as the top teams.
Defending league champion Gwynn Park entered the week undefeated and outscored its first three opponents -- Bladensburg, Surrattsville and Fairmont Heights -- by 51-4. Douglass has been just as impressive. The Eagles (4-0 overall, 4-0 league) have outscored their first four opponents -- Potomac, Forestville, DuVal and Central -- by 60-7.
Douglass hosts Gwynn Park at 3:30 p.m.Monday in a game in which the winner will enter the second half of league play in first place. Gwynn Park has won the past 10 games against the Eagles after posting 10-3 and 13-8 victories last season en route to finishing the regular season 16-1 before losing at Long Reach in the quarterfinals of the 3A East Region tournament.
Douglass entered the week hitting nearly .600 as a team, highlighted by freshman second baseman David DuVall, who is hitting a team-best .700 on a squad that collectively hit just one home run. Junior third baseman Mike Laughery hit a home run over the right field fence in a season-opening, 13-4 victory at Potomac for the first homer of his career.
"What I like most about this team is that it's not just one or two guys hitting. We have a whole team that is putting the ball in play," Douglass Coach Bill Hay said. "I hate when we hit fly balls. I like line drives and ground balls. Against Potomac, Mike hit a home run, but I was more impressed with the swing he used to hit a line drive for a double in his next at-bat."
Though Gwynn Park has had little trouble scoring, Coach Matt Cooke has been pleased with his team's defense, which has committed just four errors this season, a marked improvement over last year.
"Defensively, we've been very good, and we have a lot of team speed," Cooke said. "But our hitting needs to get better. We've scored a lot of runs, but a lot of that had to do with us getting some walks and getting on because of errors. We have been great stealing bases, but since you can't steal first base, we are going to have to hit if we want to beat the better teams."
Jaguars' Joy Shines on Defense
Junior shortstop Barron Joy was C.H. Flowers' best offensive player in last Thursday's 9-8 victory over High Point, collecting two hits, stealing two bases, scoring two runs and driving in another. But Joy's defensive play in the bottom of the seventh secured the Jaguars' first win over High Point.
With two outs and a man on second, Joy dove to his right to knock down a hard grounder destined for left field. The game would have been tied had the ball made it past the infield, but Joy's stop left runners on first and third. Sophomore right-hander Max Brady then ended the game by recording his fourth strikeout over three innings of relief.
The Jaguars had lost to High Point, the defending 4A South champion, by scores of 19-2 and 10-0 last season; Thursday's victory improved their record to 1-1.
"The kids have matured more, they've taken it upon themselves to get physically stronger," said co-head coach Robert Herring. "They ran in the offseason, they lifted weights in the offseason, and they did that on their own."
The team's ace is senior right-hander Jonathan Dozier, but the next three pitchers are sophomores: Brady, his twin brother Ben, and Elliot Arrington. . . .
After spending last season teaching her softball players the sport's fundamentals, C.H. Flowers Coach Molly Bender said her Jaguars' 6-3 victory over High Point on Friday proved her team is beginning to play to its lofty potential.
C.H. Flowers's victory over High Point, which last season reached the championship game of the 4A South Region tournament, was the Jaguars' most impressive victory in the varsity team's two-year history. Sophomore third baseman Kristine Hall and sophomore second baseman Natasha Vincent each went a career-best 4 for 4 against the Eagles.
"When we started, we only had three girls on our team that had played organized softball before," Bender said. "But they've learned how to play, and now they can be a legitimate team in this league. They just have to go out and play like it."
-- Jon Gallo and Dan Steinberg