Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

2004 All-County Softball Team: Veterans highlight all-county team

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Player of the Year: Mandi Phillips

Making her fourth consecutive appearance on the Star⁄Gazette first team, Phillips again ascended to the head of the class among county pitchers. The Parkdale senior struck out 229 batters and recorded a 0.89 earned run average in 117 innings. She concluded her career with a 57-18 record, 765 strikeouts and 0.79 ERA in 485 innings on the mound. She added 25 assists and three putouts, accounting for 72 percent of opposing outs. Phillips also hit .389 (21-for-54) and became only the fifth softball player to have her jersey number (6) retired by the school.

After watching her pitch every inning of every game for him the past four seasons, longtime Parkdale coach Gene Robertson said of Phillips, “She's the best pitcher that we've ever had at Parkdale. She combined natural ability with a genuine understanding of how to pitch to every hitter.“

Coach of the Year: Saeed Olushegun

In his third season with the Lions, Olushegun revamped a squad that appeared headed for extinction into a competitive group. Olushegun’s battery consisted of two freshmen and his infield, anchored by a pair of seniors, made enough plays to keep the Lions in every game. Largo, which had won only two games in Olushegun’s two previous seasons and had been winless the year before he arrived, won five games this season, topped by a come-from-behind victory against Laurel.

First team

Becky Zanelotti, Pallotti, senior, pitcher — Zanelotti capped her senior season in stellar fashion by tossing consecutive shutouts against Holy Cross and Spalding in the Maryland Private Schools Championship. In 21 starts, she went 17-4 with eight shutouts, 112 strikeouts and 1.29 earned run average in 136 innings. Zanelotti is second time selection on the Star⁄Gazette first team.

Christina Smith, Pallotti, senior, catcher — Undoubtedly the county’s best player at her position both offensively and defensively, Smith earned her fourth consecutive spot on the Star⁄Gazette first team. She hit .481 with six doubles, six triples, two homers and 22 runs batted in. She had 12 assists without an error and threw out half of the 12 base runners attempting to steal against her. Smith is headed to Prince George’s Community College this fall on a softball scholarship.

Kristin Fusco, Pallotti, senior, outfielder — Last year’s Star⁄Gazette Softball Player of the Year enjoyed another superb season. Fusco hit .446 and scored 28 runs as Pallotti’s leadoff batter. In center field, Fusco made only one error in 30 chances and often made difficult plays look routine. A three-time Star⁄Gazette first-team selection, Fusco will play for Prince George’s Community College.

Cristina Hill, Roosevelt, junior, outfielder — Despite missing the first five games with an ankle injury, Hill led the Raiders in hitting (.500), home runs (3) and RBI (17). She had a double and a triple against Bowie in the Raiders’ 2-1 4A South Region final victory. Hill also displayed plenty of range and a good arm in right field and should be the Roosevelt cleanup hitter next season.

Valerie D’Agostino, Bowie, sophomore, outfielder — One of the best defensive outfielders in the county, D’Agostino earned her first spot on the first team by making a number of outstanding plays in center field. She displayed exceptional range and often made difficult catches look routine. She hit .250 and scored 16 runs hitting in the No. 2 spot.

Erin King, Bowie, sophomore, shortstop — One of the most talented underclassmen in the county, King hit .366 with four doubles, three homers and two triples while driving in 20 runs and scoring another 28. She displayed power from both sides of the plate, evidenced by a left-handed home run against Parkdale ace Phillips. King also recorded 25 assists and 23 putouts while playing shortstop.

Jackie Kugler, Bowie, senior, second base — Making her second straight appearance on the Star⁄Gazette first team, Kugler is the Bulldogs’ only graduating starter. Blessed with a swift, powerful swing, she led Bowie in hitting at .436 with seven doubles, three triples and two homers. She drove in 18 runs and scored 24 more and easily led the Bulldogs with a .782 slugging percentage.

Kristen Sarandos, Crossland, senior, pitcher — Sarandos guided the Cavaliers to an undefeated record and a 3A⁄2A league title and earned two victories over perennial league power Gwynn Park, ending the Yellow Jackets’ 138-game league win streak. She went 17-2 with 182 strikeouts and only 14 walks with a 0.28 earned run average in 100 innings. She hit .638 with 12 doubles, three homers and 48 RBI.

Christina Gosweiler, Bowie, junior, pitcher — In her first season with the Bulldogs the ‘‘Goose” went 13-2, including a 3-2 victory against Crossland in the inaugural county softball championship game. Gosweiler struck out 61 and walked only seven while registering a 0.78 ERA in nearly 100 innings. As the team’s leadoff batter she hit .350 with 13 doubles and three triples while scoring 31 runs.

Jennifer Swieczkowski, Grace Brethren, pitcher — In her second high school season, Swieczkowski carried the Eagles to the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference championship although she is still two years away from actually attending high school. The seventh-grader went 16-1 and struck out 178 and had a 0.60 ERA in 93 innings. Swieczkowski helped her cause by batting .500 with five doubles and one triple while driving in 19 runs.

Erin Casey, Eleanor Roosevelt, senior, utility — During her four years at Roosevelt, Casey played every infield position and could have been available to pitch if needed. This spring, brandishing a knee brace from a torn ACL she suffered last year, Casey played superbly at third base and was among the team’s leading hitters. She batted .407, scored 20 runs and drove in 11 more. Casey was the Star⁄Gazette Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year last fall.

Annette Makle, Gwynn Park, senior, designated hitter — One of the most productive power hitters in the 3A⁄2A league, Makle earned her second consecutive spot on the first team. She batted .420 with seven homers and 30 RBI despite being intentionally walked 27 times. She was named the Yellow Jackets’ most valuable player.

Jenna Snyder, Laurel, senior, first base — In her first varsity season, Snyder batted .531 with four doubles and one triple, drove in 19 runs and scored 18 more. She displayed good range and agility at first base, often stretching for wide throws from her infielders to record difficult outs. Snyder is one of eight graduating seniors on the Laurel squad and will be sorely missed.

Molly Monahan, Seton, senior, third base — One of the Roadrunners’ leading hitters and defensive anchors, Monahan helped guide the Bladensburg school to a 7-8 season after it won only two games in 2003. She hit .304 with 16 RBI. After a slow start at the plate, she ended the season with nine hits in her last 17 at bats.

Second Team

Erin Tyler, Bowie

Robin Burroughs and Jamie Rowton, Parkdale

Lydia Ratliff and Jessica Schools, Grace Brethren

Jessica Webster, Ellen Hungate andKelley Oklesson, Roosevelt

Victoria Jones and Kristen Schooler, Flowers

Carolyne King and Guilia Rosanova, Seton

Jocelyn Hall and Catie Windsor, Riverdale Baptist

Tasha Ellis, High Point

Arelis Hernandez, Oxon Hill

Kelly Smith and Pam Supsic, Pallotti

Heather Casey, Queen Anne

Lindsay Slavin and Ashley Pezeshkian, Laurel

Takeisha Johnson, Largo

Tina Stewart, McNamara

Lace Butler, Crossland;

Kadeem Eccleston, DuVal