Laurel Softball In Midst of Standout Season

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Big things are happening on the softball diamond at Laurel High School in Prince George's County.

The Spartans are 9-2 this season, and have been dominant in many of those wins. Laurel has scored double digit runs in most of their games, and at least 30 on three separate occasions.

"This year's group is really unlike any other that I've had, even though a good part of them are the same girls from the past two years," head coach Jennifer McGillin said. "They really truly have all improved and have worked very hard to better both individually and as a team."

It's a senior laden group, with 10 total on the roster.

Of the seniors, pitcher Ashley Woodall stands out. She's had a monstrous year both on the mound and at the plate, where she bats fourth in Laurel's lineup. Woodall, who is also a captain, has averaged 12 K's per game, using her 66-68 MPH fastball and variety of pitches to baffle opposing hitters. At the plate, she's cranked six home runs.

Woodall's battery mate and fellow captain, Dominga Jones, has also been crucial for Laurel's success. McGillin credits Jones as being a player who has worked exceptionally hard to improve and be able to catch pitcher as dynamic as Woodall.

Some other seniors having strong years are center fielder Sharon Gilbertz, left fielder Heather Healey and third baseman Aulaysha Bannister.

"I had many of these girls all four years, as I was the JV coach their freshman year. To see some of them this year and know that I have played a part in their success really makes me feel like I must be doing something right," McGillin said. "It's going to be a great season, and I know it'll be an emotional one."

The future also looks bright for Laurel, with freshman shortstop Tamia Hull and sophomore second baseman Justice Abbot both having fine seasons for the Spartans.

Although the team's hitting is what stands out when you look at Laurel's results, McGillin still believes this is a team built around pitching and base running. In particular, the Spartans' success on the base paths has been at an elite level, stealing more than 30 bases in a few games.

"The girls have become very aggressive on the bases, understanding that we need to score runs in order to win," McGillin said.

Looking ahead, Laurel has high hopes for the MPSSAA playoffs. The team has reached the 4A south regional final the last two seasons, but lost to Bowie in 2014, and Eleanor Roosevelt in 2015.

Those two teams have been bogey teams for Laurel and that has continued to this season, with Laurel already losing to each team once. The Spartans will get a chance to even their record out against both teams though in their final regular season contests.

If those games go the Spartans way, McGillin is confident her 10 seniors will have a memorable end to their high school softball careers.

"If we can pull it all together and beat Bowie and Eleanor Roosevelt in our last two regular season games, I believe that will give us the extra boost we need to sail through the playoffs," McGillin said. "Either way, I'm very proud of them."
April 27th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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