After her first three years of softball at St. Mary's Ryken, it's not as if pitcher Madison Aughinbaugh had to re-haul her game. The senior had already been named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference player of the year once and a first-team All-Met pitcher twice. She had led the Knights to back-to-back WCAC titles in her sophomore in junior years.

So in the offseason, Aughinbaugh knew what she needed to do.

"I had location. I had spin. I just needed speed," she said.

By laboring under the squat rack and working on her leg drive in the circle, Aughinbaugh generated more velocity and became an even more formidable pitcher. The improvement led to an 18-1 record, 241 strikeouts and a new award.

Aughinbaugh was named Gatorade Maryland Softball Player of the Year last week. She is the first girl to win the award at St. Mary's Ryken.

"I mean, it's amazing," the Fordham softball recruit said. "It makes me feel good that all my hard work and dedication to the sport that I love has paid off."

Aughinbaugh hit .416 with 11 doubles and 30 runs scored, but she was most dominant in the circle.

"Madison was basically unhittable this season and shut down the top hitters on every team she faced," Paul VI Coach EJ Thomas said in a Gatorade news release. "She was able to work both sides of the plate and change speeds to keep them off-balance and increased her pitch speed over her junior year. Her ability to hit for power and lay down drag bunts made her very difficult to defend."

In Washington, Georgetown Visitation junior Sydney Love-Baker was named Gatorade District of Columbia Softball Player of the Year.

"It's actually an extreme honor," Love-Baker said. "I put a lot of work in outside of practice, inside of practice. It's an awesome thing to have."

According to statistics reported to The Post, Love-Baker led the area in home runs (16) and RBI (57) while hitting .645 and scoring 37 runs for the Cubs.

"I have been coaching in the ISL for about 16 years and Sydney Love-Baker is by far the best pure hitter I have seen during that time," Potomac School Coach Wayne Loving said in a Gatorade news release. "She hits for power and average. Sydney hit two home runs against us over the fence to the opposite field. In my 16 years at Potomac School, I don't think I have seen five home runs hit over the fence, much less hit to the opposite field."

After attending a softball camp in Cookeville, Tenn., earlier this year, Love-Baker drew a scholarship offer from Tennessee Tech on the spot. She orally committed in February.

With the Cubs losing 2014-15 Gatorade POY Alee Burke to graduation this season, Love-Baker said she knew hitting would be even more important.

"Hit for base hits," she said she was thinking. "Don't hit it over the fence."

With her approach, softballs found their way out of the park anyway.

"I would say I have a simple approach in the box," Love-Baker said. "Just go up there, look for my pitch, hit it hard, and if it goes out it goes out."


Goals scored by Woodgrove senior Nora Bowen to help the Wolverines girls' lacrosse team beat Salem, 12-8, in a Virginia 4A state semifinal on Tuesday. Read the story here.