Only recently has Arundel senior Joey Frykman appreciated the magnitude of pitching in a 2001 region and state final game.
The left-hander led the Wildcats to a record ninth Maryland 4A championship that season and -- with the bulk of the lineup returning -- Arundel expected similar results last season, only to take an early exit from the playoffs.
Now a senior and the only four-year starter in school history, Frykman hopes for one more shot at glory. He has led a squad with three returning starters to a 6-3 start in competitive Anne Arundel County.
"That was a great feeling," Frykman said of his state tournament experience. "When I was a sophomore, I didn't know how big it was. Pitching in the regional and state championship, I just didn't know how big the moment was until I got older."
The Wildcats followed an 11-3 season-opening loss to Southern with a 13-4 victory to start a five-game winning streak. The run ended last week in the Baseball Factory Tournament, when Arundel dropped the second game of a doubleheader with Steinert (N.J.), 8-6. Arundel has since defeated North County and fallen to Chesapeake.
Arundel Coach Bernie Walter, in his 31st season, knows the rebuilding process will not be easy.
"Last year was pretty disappointing because we didn't play as well as we had hoped," he said. "But we've been doing this too long to worry about last year. It's always about this year. Each team develops its own personality. I think this team wants to learn. From the beginning of the year to where they are right now, this team has improved immensely."
Frykman is not alone in his solid play. Junior Jeff Feigl entered the season as a reserve infielder but has developed into the Wildcats' second starting pitcher, having yet to yield an earned run and posting a 2-0 record. Senior catcher Jason Clemens is batting over .400.
-- Josh Leventhal