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Capital Gazette 2024 softball All-County: Crofton’s Lynsie Herman gave her all in dominant run

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Capital Gazette 2024 softball All-County: Crofton’s Lynsie Herman gave her all in dominant run

It’s never about Lynsie Herman.

The Crofton ace’s nearly 200 strikeouts were interludes between her teammate’s defensive fetes. Her .547 batting average from the leadoff position merely the necessary job requirement of that spot in the order.

At least, from Herman’s point of view.

Cardinals coach Sarah Bible must constantly remind Herman of a truth she herself lets sit on the surface like shimmering oil on top of water, unable to mesh.

“She does not realize how good she is,” Bible said. “I think she’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. She’s as good on offense as she is pitching, fielding as she is hitting. Her demeanor on the mound never changes – she attacks.”

The Crofton senior and University of North Carolina Wilmington commit separated herself from even the best pitching Anne Arundel has to offer, wielding a 0.521 ERA over 94 innings-pitched. Only seven earned runs and 14 walks escaped her, meager flaws against her 194 Ks. Herman limited opposing batters to a .094 batting average. In center field, she never committed a single error.

North Carolina Wilmington commit, stockpiled 361 strikeouts (and 419 overall), with three perfect games.”]

She’d always been the kind of player who could be named the Capital Gazette 2024 Softball Player of the Year.

Emotion rarely breaks Herman’s features when she’s dealing. But in a 12-inning siege with Leonardtown in the Class 4A state quarterfinal, it was her teammates’ efforts that wracked Herman with tears.

No performance Herman ever gave in her high school careercould compare to this: nine scoreless innings and no separation through 11 forced the senior to return to the circle over and over again.

“But as we got into the 10th, 11th, then 12th, I was like, ‘How much longer can I go?’ But I knew I had to push myself. I had to stay out there and do everything I could,” Herman said.

Herman dealt 149 pitches just for two passed balls – a mere 0.13% of all her effort that day – to cost Crofton everything in the top of the 12th.

“She threw 21 strikeouts against Leonardtown. Who does that? In a 12-inning game?” Bible said.

It takes most players years to adopt a new pitch, said Bible, who carries decades of softball coaching experience. When Herman wanted to switch from her faithful screwball this spring, she picked up the curveball and turned it into her best weapon.

“Working together, her rise got that much better. It’s deadly now, just like her curve, which was even more effective,” Bible said. “What makes her so fierce isn’t just her spins, but her spots.”

Crofton senior pitcher and outfielder Lynsie Herman is the Capital Gazette 2024 Softball Player of the Year. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
“It was never about Lynsie. She always saw the whole picture,” Crofton coach Sarah Bible said about Lynsie Herman, pictured. “She never felt like she was the only one out on the mound. Lynsie always made it about the team.” (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff)

A back injury in her sophomore year not only shifted Herman from the circle to the outfield, but her way of thinking. Her trust in her defense grew. She knew she had to give her all as they were giving it. Come the last month of her high school career, she’d give even more of herself than she’d expected.

Reaching and winning the county championship branded Herman’s mind all season. Neither of those things could happen if she didn’t quell Chesapeake on May 3.

But after a few runs and strikeouts in the first two innings, Herman slammed head first into third base.

Adults knelt beside her and instructed her to stay down. Her chin wore the most obvious injuries, but Herman could feel her head aching and knew what that meant. Crofton’s typically chattering dugout fell silent.

“But then, I knew I had to pull through for my team. I had to do everything I could to be there for them. As soon as they talked about putting in a runner for me, I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get up,’” Herman said. “I know how far I can push myself and what it takes to get me out of a game.”

Herman swiftly returned to the circle and shut down one of the county’s most capable horde of hitters with 11 strikeouts in a 9-1 one-hitter.

“That game proved how tough she was. She might have had a concussion and she was cracking jokes. She got up and continued pitching. For her to even continue in that game was amazing,” Bible said. “She proved herself so many times this year.”

But five days later, dizziness still dogged Herman as she ran pregame warmups ahead of the county championship. Even while tossing six strikeouts, Herman allowed Northeast a 5-0 lead by the bottom of the fifth. Bible relieved her, but Herman did not stop fighting to the end.

Only three losses stained Herman’s record this spring, two came against Northeast.

“I just had to have the mindset of – it’s in the past now. I still have the rest of playoffs with my teammates,” Herman said. “And we can still have a good state run.”

Compared to the strength Crofton presented, few times on the Class 4A path were ever going to be able to compare. The Cardinals easily knocked aside Old Mill in the region semifinals and North County thereafter. Herman claimed the mound for the latter, countering an opposing hit by fanning 17 batters.

After toppling the Cardinals, Leonardtown went on to beat Walter Johnson by six runs in the state semifinal and Eleanor Roosevelt, 14-0. Judging by how close the state quarterfinal was, the Cardinals could have just as simply done the same and returned from College Park with gold and their first trophy.

It had been Herman’s dream as much as this year’s county championship, if not more.

Heartbreak has cooled in the last few weeks. Herman tries to focus on the good: Her Cardinals won their first region title. They finished their season on their home field. None of the thoughts really focus on herself.

“It was never about Lynsie. She always saw the whole picture,” Bible said. “She never felt like she was the only one out on the mound. Lynsie always made it about the team.”

Chesapeake coach Brittany Owen speaks to the team before the game. The visiting Chesapeake Cougars played the Severna Park Falcons in girls high school softball Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
Chesapeake coach Brittany Owen speaks to her team before a game against Severna Park. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff)

Coach of the Year

Brittany Owen, Chesapeake

No one knew for sure what the Cougars’ fate would be this year without an obvious choice to take over in the circle and questions swirling around who would lead the lineup. And yet, Owen and her staff organized her team to its most effective power, dominating the county — including county champion Northeast twice — with a 17-4 record. The Cougars outscored opponents 311-56, even while maintaining intentionally conservative margins against county teams with losing records.

Only an untimely loss to Crofton kept the Cougars from the county championship game. In response, Chesapeake shutout its rival Eagles in the Class 3A East I region final, 8-0, journeyed past Dulaney, 11-7, in the state quarterfinal before falling, 7-2, to eventual state champion Sherwood in the semifinals.

Joe Hart, who coaches Chesapeake’s rival Northeast, remembers Owen all the way back to her own playing days. He expressed admiration for the head coach she’s become, someone who trained under longtime coach Don Ellenberger and clearly swirled his influence into her own defined style.

“She didn’t have that dominant, big-time pitcher — you could put the ball in play — but every time they played us, they had solid, sound defense, and that was the key to that team,” Hart said. “You can tell she worked that team to it.”

What can’t be read in a scorebook, though, was Owen’s impact on her players as people. She emphasized talking through everything with her players, from strategy to skill to emotions — a choice that deeply impacted her team, including first team All-County star Alana Watts.

“She was always telling me to relax when I stepped in the box because she knew the amount of pressure I felt,” Watts said. “She understands burn out and how it affects players mentally. Most coaches wouldn’t understand that.”

Chesapeake's Ava Cicchetti hits an RBI single in the third inning. The visiting Chesapeake Cougars played the Severna Park Falcons in girls high school softball Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
Chesapeake’s Ava Cicchetti hits an RBI single in the third inning against Severna Park. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)

All-County first team

Ava Cicchetti, Chesapeake, senior, first baseman 

The Cougars’ cleanup hitter drove in 20 run on 26 hits, including five doubles and a home run. She scored 13 runs and finished with a .400 batting average and.458 on-base percentage. Cicchetti also only struck out four times.

Alana Watts, Chesapeake, senior, second baseman

If there was a Comeback Player of the Year award, Watts would own it. She returned from a junior season lost to an ACL tear to lead Chesapeake in hitting — .544 batting average, .616 on-base percentage, 31 hits, 31 runs, five doubles, three triples. Her 12 home runs and 54 RBIs were program single-season records.

Jayda Betts, Archbishop Spalding, senior, second baseman

A Hampton University signee, the three-year All-County selection was hard to pin down by pitchers, with only one strikeout to disturb her .404 batting average and 13 RBIs. In the infield, she was as unstoppable, with a 97.9 fielding percentage.

Crofton's India Stokes flies out in the first inning. The visiting Northeast Eagles played the Crofton Cardinals in girls high school softball Friday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
Crofton’s India Stokes swings during a game against Northeast. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)

India Stokes, Crofton, senior, shortstop/second baseman

A Bethune Cookman commit with far-ranging talent in the field, baserunning and hitting, the four-year starter amassed 35 runs, 32 hits and 23 RBIs on a .478 batting average with a .514 on-base percentage.

CJ Harris, South River, junior, third baseman

A two-time All-County second team selection, the Seahawk levied a .531 batting average in her third spring, clubbing 26 hits, seven doubles, four triples and two homers, with an on-base percentage of .629 as well as 20 runs and 20 RBIs.

Northeast Madison Burris catches a fly ball during the 3A region final girls softball game against Chesapeake, in Pasadena. (Terrance Williams/Freelance)
Northeast Madison Burris led the Eagles in home runs and RBIs. (Terrance Williams/Freelance)

Madison Burris, Northeast, sophomore, outfielder 

Burris elevated from second team in 2023 to first team by leading the Eagles in RBIs (24) and home runs (2) with a .551 batting average and OPS of 1.535. She totaled 27 hits with 12 singles, five doubles and four triples.

Makenna Dean, Archbishop Spalding, senior, outfielder

The two-time first yeam All-County selection accounted for only one error and a 92.9 fielding percentage. She compiled a .478 batting average, .537 on-base percentage and .696 slugging. She amassed 22 hits, four triples and 11 RBIs.

Chesapeake's Rylee Hyde comes home on an Ava Cicchetti RBI single in the third inning. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
Chesapeake’s Rylee Hyde hit .537 this season for the Cougars. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)

Rylee Hyde, Chesapeake, senior, left fielder

Washington Adventist-bound Hyde made good, consistent use of her No. 2 batting spot with 36 hits for a .537 batting average and .575 on-base percentage with 32 runs and six RBIs. She swiped 12 bases as well. In the outfield, the senior made 15 putouts for a .882 fielding percentage.

Bria Sewell, Arundel, senior, center fielder

A Delaware State signee, the Wildcats’ leadoff batter was considered a “leader on the team” by Arundel coach Lisa Mills. Sewell swiped a team-high 17 bases while hitting .417/.500/.600 with six doubles, a triple, a home run, 11 RBIs and 21 runs.

Broadneck's Aliceanna Weibley slides into third after hitting a run scoring double and advancing on the throw against Chesapeake at Broadneck High School. Chesapeake won 13-5.(John Gillis/Freelance)
Broadneck’s Aliceanna Weibley slides into third after hitting a run scoring double against Chesapeake. (John Gillis/Freelance)

Aliceanna Weibley, Broadneck, junior, outfielder

The Bruins got 19 RBIs, four doubles, four triples, a home run and 14 stolen bases from the junior, accounting for a .415/.483/.698 slash. Weibley had a perfect fielding percentage in 50 total chances.

Anna Bristol, Arundel, sophomore, utility

The sophomore topped all of the Wildcats’ hitting categories, batting .522/.618/.797, 32 runs, 20 RBIs, 11 doubles, a triple and two homers. With seven stolen bases, she also fielded with .964 accuracy, including 67 putouts. She pitched in 20 games and 102.2 innings with 82 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA.

Marley Connor, Crofton, junior, utility

It’s no surprise the county’s top power-hitter improved her 2023 performance with a whopping 51 RBIs this year on 43 hits, 20 runs and nine home runs for an even sharper .547 average. She averaged 10 strikeouts per game in the circle. She allowed only six earned runs, 32 hits and 11 walks for a 0.81 ERA.

Sally Trent, Severna Park, senior, catcher 

The College of Charleston commit and three-time first team All-County choice totaled 177 putouts. As a batter, she blasted five home runs and 33 RBIs for a .603/.662/.968 slash, as well as 23 singles, six doubles and a triple.

Severna Park pitcher Quinlyn Bary throws in the first inning. The visiting Chesapeake Cougars played the Severna Park Falcons in girls high school softball Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)
Severna Park pitcher Quinlyn Bary throws in the first inning against Chesapeake. (Paul W. Gillespie/Staff photo)

Quinlyn Bary, Severna Park, freshman, pitcher

The first-year ace rose to her team’s needs by unleashing 151 strikeouts out of 406 batters, permitting 63 hits, 50 walks and 29 earned runs for a 2.17 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. She held opponents to a .181 batting average.

Kayleigh Fyffe, Northeast, junior, pitcher

Of her 10-1 record, the Eagles hurler’s top performance came in this spring’s county championship, going toe-to-toe with the Player of the Year and coming out on top. She collected a 1.74 ERA with 37 strikeouts.

Presley McGinty, Northeast, sophomore, pitcher

The two-time first team All-County pick spurred the county champion Eagles with a .483 batting average and 28 hits, 19 singles, three doubles, two triples, seven stolen bases and 10 RBIs, while also hurling 40 strikeouts for a 2.25 ERA and 1.071 WHIP.

All-County second team

Allison Schaefer, Chesapeake sophomore right fielder

Ava Zimmerman, South River freshman second baseman

Avery Ford, South River freshman catcher

Brynn Jones, Northeast sophomore shortstop

Cessi Prince, Archbishop Spalding junior pitcher

Christina Ballagh, Severna Park senior right fielder

Kaycee Catterton, Southern junior shortstop

Kelly Medhurst, Southern sophomore pitcher

Lindsey Cavey, Chesapeake junior center fielder/pitcher

Maddie Hamolia, Arundel junior catcher/third baseman/shortstop

Reese Butler, North County sophomore catcher

Rylan Crisafulli, Broadneck freshman pitcher

Sahara Ward, North County senior pitcher

Sam Waters Broadneck senior pitcher/second baseman

Sarah Billett, AACS junior pitcher

Taylor Castle, Northeast junior catcher

Honorable mention

AACS: Brooke Fitzgerald, senior pitcher; Archbishop Spalding: Olivia Rowley, freshman utility; Arundel: Leyla Nevitt, freshman shortstop; Aedyn Prince freshman pitcher/first baseman. Broadneck: Abby Favazza, junior catcher. Chesapeake: Amya Murphy, sophomore pitcher; Kasey Slade, senior third baseman; Ryleigh Smoot, junior catcher. Crofton: Alanna Yancey, junior outfielder. Glen Burnie: Alexis Abrams, Glen Burnie senior third baseman. Northeast: Jenna Burroughs, sophomore outfielder/pitcher; Carleigh Canada, freshman infielder. Old Mill: Sydney Aguilar, sophomore pitcher. Severna Park: Addison Bianco, junior center fielder; Andrea Rom, freshman first baseman. South River: Hanna Grambo, junior outfielder.

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