When Oakland Mills senior Danny Oleynik showed up at the Hard Times Cafe in Columbia Wednesday night to celebrate the Scorpions' first win in three years, he had already fulfilled a preseason promise he made to his teammates.
As he walked in the door, he took off his hat -- a borrowed cap from Centennial, Oakland Mills's victim earlier that afternoon -- and revealed a gleaming white dome that his father had shaved after the win.
"I just decided to get the guys motivated. I thought maybe they would like to see that," said Oleynik, who promised his team he would shave his head if the Scorpions won a game this year. "At the beginning of the season, the first day of practice, I was just joking around about it. I like it now. It was for a good reason, and it feels good, too."
If there's a poster boy for the new-look Scorpions, it's Oleynik, the only player on the roster who had experienced a win at the varsity level before the team beat Centennial, 5-4, last week. Oakland Mills's last win was March 30, 2000, against Atholton.
In between were 61 losses and a myriad of miscues, missed opportunities and frustrations that were finally shed like Oleynik's hair when Tyler Price induced a game-ending double play in the seventh inning against Centennial.
"Losing became like a routine," senior catcher Phil Grove said. "It was like, 'All right, here we go. There's an error. There's a run. There it goes.' We would fight back, but we would always get shot down."
The Scorpions (1-3) followed up the win over Centennial with a 6-0 loss to Glenelg on Friday -- an improvement from last year when the Gladiators won both meetings between the teams by the 10-run mercy rule.
Oakland Mills finished the week with a new outlook on the season. The county's smallest school will not endure another dubious streak, said Coach Rick Ewart.
"We know we will win again," said Ewart, a graduate of Oakland Mills in 1986. "It's just a matter of who, when and how."
Glenelg Coach Tom Thrasher said the Scorpions didn't look like the same team his players faced in years past, and it took three pitchers and timely hitting for the Gladiators to take care of Oakland Mills.
"That [win over Centennial] was a huge icebreaker in terms of attitude and confidence," Oleynik said. "Midway through last year it came to a point where it's just all questionable. The key thing this year is we got an early win, so the team's mental attitude is there. The confidence is there early. We proved ourselves. From here on, it's all positive."
Oleynik had never won a game as a pitcher at Oakland Mills, despite respect among the county as one of the top left-handed hurlers. He received a no-decision in the Scorpions' win over Atholton three years ago but allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings against Centennial. He also hit a two-run home run to help the Scorpions to the win, and now that he's had a taste of victory, he doesn't want to leave Oakland Mills without another.
"We are not finished. We are not done," Oleynik said. "If we didn't win again, that would be an unsuccessful season. Definitely. We are building, and we are going to get there. It's not over yet."