HYATTSVILLE – Starting on Thursday, May 10, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) will begin the first rounds of the state baseball playoffs, culminating in a trip to the finals at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on May 25-26.
Currently, Prince George’s is on an 11-year drought for a baseball title with the 2007 Eleanor Roosevelt High School squad being the last county winners in the state finals.
The following three teams currently have the best shot at winning a postseason tournament:
Charles H. Flowers: The Jaguars quickly dispatched Gwynn Park High School 15-0 in five innings to claim their second-ever county championship on May 5. Under third-year Head Coach George Brown, Flowers (14-3) have yet to lose to a county opponent this season. With a roster of nine seniors, four of whom have already committed to playing post-graduation, Flowers looks to make a run at a state title and to forget last year’s stunning first round 8-6 loss to Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School.
“The sting from last year is still fresh in their minds and their souls,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a little different (for them) and for me as a coach. I’ve been doing things a little differently as well, so we can go past the first round and head towards that regional and state semifinal game. Our goal is to get to the state finals.”
Freshman catcher Brandon Bradshaw has stood out for the Jaguars, accounting for a .429 batting average and eight RBI. Brown said he expects Bradshaw and Lancaster Bible College commit Jaden Pinkney to provide run support offensively as seniors Zach Alston and Thomas Espinosa carry the pitching load for the county champions.
Bowie: The Bulldogs currently hold one of the better records in the county (12-4) despite losing to Liberty High School from Carroll County 10-0 on May 4. Bowie High School has an upperclassmen-oriented roster with 10 seniors and three juniors who will be able to provide advice and experience heading into the later rounds of the playoffs.
Senior right-hander Bo Clore has thrown 29 strikeouts, posted a 3.27 ERA and earned six wins in seven appearances. Infielder Chayne Radnetter will provide a critical offensive spark for the Bulldogs. The senior leads team in batting average (.510), RBI (32), hits (25) and triples (4).
Eleanor Roosevelt: Last year’s regional champions regrouped from losing eight seniors, with junior and sophomore talent blended into the team’s nucleus. Sophomore infielder Hector DeLaRosa sits in second in runs batted in (12) while junior shortstop/catcher Derek Ohringer leads the Raiders in runs (26) and hits (13).
On the mound, sophomore left-hander Todd Murphy excelled in his 13 appearances, winning four games and struck out 43 batters, a team-high. The addition of depth will be key for a possible playoff encounter against rivals Flowers, who defeated Roosevelt twice during the regular season.
Despite rich softball history, no Prince George’s County team has won a MPSSAA State Final since Surrattsville High School did it in 1989. After playoff seedings are released on May 8, teams will have a chance to end the 29-year drought and bring home a state championship.
Here are three teams to look out for during this year’s state softball tournaments:
Charles H. Flowers: The Lady Jaguars erased memories of last year’s 30-8 second-round home playoff loss to Bowie to end this season with a 15-1 record. Their record earned them a spot as the 4A division representative for the county championships on May 9.
Starting pitcher Mya Lowe exceeded expectations after a stellar junior year, winning all 14 games she appeared in, including throwing a perfect game versus Suitland on March 25 and notched three no-hitters. The Lady Jaguars’ strength offensively is their baserunning. They finished the regular season stealing a base 207 times out of 222 attempts, a 93.2 percent success rate.
Wise: Coming off a 7-6 season and a second-round exit in last year’s playoffs, the Lady Pumas have vastly improved. This year, Wise has impressive wins on their resume, defeating traditional county softball powers Roosevelt and Bowie to amass a 13-2 record.
Fielding a smaller roster than other teams with only 11 players, senior third baseman Krystal Williams will provide experience to help lead Wise through a tough 4A bracket and to a possible regional final meeting with Flowers.
Gwynn Park: Currently, the Lady Yellow Jackets are undefeated (14-0) and will be one of the higher seeded teams entering the 2A side of the playoff bracket. Only two opponents have scored more than four runs on Gwynn Park this season while offensively, they have averaged driving in 19.75 runs per game.
Challengers Frederick Douglass and last year’s regional champions Southern from Harwood will look to end Gwynn Park’s impressive run.