John Carroll’s Emma Ritter and Maddie Penta from Bohemia Manor are again VSN’s best in softball; Glen Burnie’s Sauble is Coach of the Year


by Derek Toney

Maddie Penta and Emma Ritter were teammates on a Cecil County Little League softball team in Cecil County a few years ago. They’ve been forces of nature since arriving on the high school scene.

For the second time in three seasons, Ritter and Penta have claimed VSN’s softball player of the year honors. Penta is Pitcher of the Year while Ritter is Player of the Year.

Ritter helped John Carroll School shake a slow start to reach the IAAM A Conference championship game. Penta continued assaulting opposing bats en route to another championship season for Bohemia Manor.

Dave Sauble helmed a spirited Glen Burnie run to the Class 4A state title game. Sauble is Coach of the Year.

Here are the stories of each of our 2019 softball award winners:


2019 VSN SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

EMMA RITTER

JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL

Since arriving at John Carroll three years ago, Ritter has arguably been the best player in the IAAM A Conference. For the second time in three seasons, Ritter is Player of the Year.

The junior batted a robust .726 (45-of-62) with 4 home runs and 23 RBI for the Patriots, who reached the IAAM A final for a second time in three seasons. John Carroll (No. 14 in final VSN Top 20), which knocked off top-seed Mount de Sales Academy in the semifinals, lost to Archbishop Spalding in the title game.

Ritter said her focus this spring was being a leader for a young squad.

“I realized its my junior year and my career is coming to a close,” said Ritter. “I want to leave an impact on my teammates and make sure they grow.”

John Carroll coach Sherry Hudson said Ritter needed “a few games” to become comfortable in her new role. Hudson thought Ritter’s biggest challenge was at the plate.

“People know who she is now. Pitchers are either walking or pitching around her,” said Hudson. “She’s a pretty good bad ball hitter. She was more patient.”

Ritter finished with a .757 on-base percentage with five triples and 10 doubles. She scored 30 runs and stole 20 bases (caught once).

Ritter, who was VSN Player of the Year in her freshman year (.643, 8 home runs, 36 RBI) in 2017, said she had to relieve self-induced pressure at the beginning of the season.

“It’s wasn’t about me, it’s about the team and playing for our coaches and parents,” said Ritter, who batted . 590 with 9 homers and 36 RBI in 2018. “I made it about growing as a person and not about stats.”

A three-time all-IAAM A selection, Ritter hit safely in all 18 games this season, including six 4-hit performances. She’s verbally committed to Virginia Tech University.


2019 VSN PITCHER OF THE YEAR

MADDIE PENTA

BOHEMIA MANOR

Penta had a season for the record books in 2019. The junior is Pitcher of the Year for an unprecedented third consecutive season.

The 6-foot fireballer went 21-0 with 299 strikeouts and a 0.11 earned-run average for Bohemia Manor (23-1), which finished No. 1 in the final VSN Top 20 for a third straight spring. The Eagles became the first Cecil County program to win three straight state titles.

Bohemia Manor won the Class 1A championship over Sparrows Point last month as Penta tossed a no-hitter. She fanned 19 batters, becoming the fourth pitcher in state final four history to hit the mark.

Penta, who allowed her only earned run of the spring in the state semifinals, said improving her mechanics and mental approach was critical to her 2019 success.

“Our team chemistry has gotten so much better,” said Penta. “We’re so cohesive on the field and work together in practice.”

Penta allowed only 16 hits in 123 innings. She was also the Eagles’ leading hitter, batting .586 wth 9 home runs and 34 RBI.

“She’s a good enough player to continually force coaching decisions on the opposite side,” said Patterson Mill coach Jeff Horton, whose team finished second to Bohemia Manor in the UCBAC Chesapeake.

The Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year, Penta tied the state mark with three no-hitters in the postseason. Penta, the nation’s No. 5 prospect in the Class of 2020 by Softball America, is verbally committed to Auburn University.


2019 VSN SOFTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR

DAVE SAUBLE

GLEN BURNIE

Sauble called his 2019 Glen Burnie squad “coronary kids.” It was an unlikely and memorable ride for Sauble, who’s Coach of the Year.

The Gophers (19-4; No. 4 in final VSN Top 20) reached the Class 4A state championship game, losing to Montgomery County’s Sherwood at the University of Maryland. The Anne Arundel County school nearly pulled off an epic comeback, scoring four runs in the bottom of the 7th and had the tying run at second base.

Sauble wasn’t surprised Glen Burnie reached the final day of the public season.

“I thought we would do well. Coming into season, you had to get by Severna Park,” said Sauble. “If we could get by Severna Park, we would have an opportunity.”

The Gophers defeated then-reigning 4A state champ Falcons twice, the latter in the East Region semifinals. Both decisions were by a run.

Glen Burnie lived on the proverbial edge, winning six 1-run games. The Gophers rallied for victory several times in 2019, including against Montgomery County’s Walt Whitman in the state semifinals at Bachman Park.

“This team didn’t have any quit in them,” said Sauble. “They never gave up.”

Sauble that attitude started with seniors Jordan Fangman, Brooke McCormick, Katie Gouty, Shianne Turner, Gia Dickey and Mikala Conley. The Gophers rallied for victory in their first four postseason matches.

Glen Burnie, which last reached the state final in 2013, nearly had a storybook ending to its season before Sherwood recorded the final out for an 8-7 victory

“It was our whole season in a nutshell,” Sauble said. “That’s effort they put forth in every game this year…If you play as a team, you go can far. You have to have some talent, but you don’t want have to be overloaded with talent.”

Sauble, who took over Doug Schreiber in 2015 after seven seasons as junior varsity coach, was assisted by Ryan McCormick and Tim Baldwin. He’s 69-24 in five seasons.