with Michael Betteridge
What Are They Putting In the Food at Catoctin High School?
Whatever they are feeding those kids up in Thurmont, it’s working. Two out of the four spring sports teams at Catoctin (baseball, softball, lacrosse, and tennis) are in first place, and the third team of the four, boy’s lacrosse, is in third place. All that from the smallest school in Frederick County!
The Catoctin baseball team is #1 in Frederick County and undefeated up until mid-April; the Catoctin softball team just knocked the undefeated Walkersville team out of first place in the county, with a tense 1-0 nail-biting win. The Catoctin Lady Cougars are now no.1 in Frederick County softball. The Lady Cougars will face Walkersville again at Walkersville on May 1. If you can, you probably want to make it over to Walkersville for that one.
The softball team’s average grade level is 10th grade, with two freshmen, five sophomores, and two junior starters. The team is batting .323 with a 41 percent on-base average. That means that one out of three times at the plate, they get a hit, and slightly less than half of their plate appearances produce runners on the bases. Top level college softball teams would be jealous of those stats.
And this is just the beginning! With the average age of this softball team not even in its prime yet, you can expect big things in Thurmont for the next three years under Coach Jessica Valentine who is in her 14th season at Catoctin.
Coach Valentine brought a winning tradition and legacy to this team as a former player who graduated in 2002. Coach Valentine went on to play college softball for Mars Hill University, just north of beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. One of the ways she has promoted the amazing Cougars’ legacy is with the “Wall of Fame” on the back of the Cougars softball dugout. Former players’ names and handprints are stenciled onto the concrete during homecoming. When this season’s players arrive at the field, the first thing they see are the names of winners from the recent past, like Courtney Eyler, Ashley Mayton, and Reagan Smith. They dream of some day having their name written on that sacred space.
The Lady Cougars are an amazing softball team. Everyone on the team contributes, all the way down the roster, top to bottom. Whether its Catcher Megan Gray making backwards-diving foul ball catches at the backstop for the out, or the red-hot Taylor Smith throwing 70+mph underhand fastballs from the pitching mound, these Cougars are talented and deep. In the outfield, Maddie Ohler snags fly balls at the fence backhanded, looking over her shoulder, and then steps up to the plate and wallops a two-run homer over the fence in right center. She is joined by teammates Julie West in left field and McKenzie Lewis in right who routinely rob hitters of base hits in the outfield. At the plate, patience is a virtue, especially for third baseman Aubrie Courtney, who consistently takes opposing pitchers deep into the count to combine with her teammates for a league high 24 walks already this season.
The infield tandem of Mazaleski at second and Reagan Smith at first base handle a lot of hot grounders, with right-handed batters swinging behind Smith’s blistering fast balls. Over at shortstop, Kassidy Kreitz, with her cat-like reflexes, doesn’t let much get by her, and she is one of the most consistent base runners on the team.
Meisner, Brawner, and Owens come in to relieve teammates as pinch runners and, in the field, to give the defensive starters a rest.
Just to give you some perspective on this young team: They have put up 79 runs in eight games, averaging almost 10 runs per game while only giving up 8 runs….only 1 run per game by the opposing team. That’s a 10-1 average per game.
Whatever they are feeding those kids, I’m going to invite myself to dinner because I need some of what they’ve got! Since I seem to be on a food thing, and with Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I’ll wrap it up this way: THIS TEAM IS THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!