With a record three straight IAAM A Conference titles, Archbishop Spalding gets the nod as the No. 1 team in the Baltimore Banner/VSN Softball Preseason Top 15.

The Anne Arundel County private school graduated two-time VSN Player of the Year Amaya Carroll (UMBC), but the Cavaliers have enough returning talent for a run at a 4-peat and 13th championship overall.

After a breakout fall campaign that featured a field hockey and girls soccer state championship, Crofton is in line to add a softball crown this spring. The No. 2 Cardinals, in their second full varsity season and with their entire roster from last spring, are considered the team to beat in a strong Anne Arundel County league.

No. 3 Reservoir is the favorite in Howard County. The Gators, looking to get back to the Class 3A state final (lost in 2021 title game) after a surprising regional exit, will be challenged by No. 8 Glenelg and Wilde Lake (No. 9).

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Chesapeake-Anne Arundel (No. 4) is ready to defend its crown in Anne Arundel where Northeast (13th), Arundel and Severna Park, which made a surprising run to the Class 4A title game, will be in the fray. No. 5 Rising Sun, which lost in the 2A state title match last spring, has the starting edge in the UCBAC Chesapeake where Patterson Mill (11th), last spring’s No. 1 in the VSN poll, looks to reinvent itself after graduating VSN Pitcher of the Year Madison Knight (Syracuse).

No. 6 Fallston and Harford Tech are expected to challenge in the UCBAC Chesapeake. Catonsville (No. 7) and No. 10 Carver A&T should vie for supremacy in Baltimore County. Francis Scott Key (No. 11) and No. 14 Manchester Valley are the favorites in Carroll County.

Here’s a look at the 2023 Baltimore Banner/Varsity Sports Network Preseason Softball Top 15:


2022 record: 13-2

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Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 2

Coach: Delaney Bell

Players to watch: Jayda Betts, Jr., OF; Alyssa Derr, Jr., Mya Lamp, Jr., P/3B

Despite losing two-time VSN Player of the Year Amaya Carroll, who’s now a freshman playing for UMBC, the Cavaliers will again be the team to beat in the IAAM A Conference. Lamp. Derr and Betts (.414 batting average, 18 RBI last spring) headlines a roster with no seniors for the 3-time reigning champ Cavaliers.


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2022 record: 14-6

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 15

Coach: Sarah Bible

Players to watch: Marley Connor, Soph., 3B/P; Lynsie Herman, Jr., P; Simone Singleton, Sr., C/Utility; Kristen White, Sr., P

The Cardinals, in their second full varsity season, appear ready to ascend to championship level. The Anne Arundel County school has its entire roster back with White, Herman and Connor (6-0 last season) forming one of the area’s best pitching staff.

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2022 record: 13-2

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 2

Coach: Julie Frisvold

Players to watch: Kayla Ecker, Sr., C; Abbie Frisvold, Soph., INF; Maggie Frisvold, Sr., 2B/P; Shelby Granzow, So., INF; Courtney Johnson, Sr., INF

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The Gators will be highly motivated after last spring’s surprising exit from the Class 3A East Region playoffs. Maggie Frisvold and Johnson, who will both suit up for UMBC next spring, will lead an experienced core ready to win the Howard County and 3A state championship.


2022 record: 17-2

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 5

Coach: Brittany Owen

Players to watch: Sam Larkin, Sr., 1B; Alana Watts, Jr., OF/2B

The Cougars will again challenge for the Anne Arundel County and 3A state crowns with Watts and Larkin (20 RBI last spring), who were Anne Arundel County Coaches first-team picks last spring. How quickly Chesapeake’s young roster (nine juniors) develops may decide if its still playing come late May.


2022 record: 17-3

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 6

Coach: Paul Taylor

Players to watch: Bri Cole, Jr., C; Jordan Lynch, Jr., 3B/SS; Faith McCullough, Sr., P/1B; Cadence Williams, Sr., P/DH

The Tigers from Cecil County may be the team to beat in the UCBAC Chesapeake after battling last year’s champ Patterson Mill in two regular season thrillers last spring. Williams, who will play for South Alabama next spring and Lynch, Cecil County’s top player the past two seasons, headline a veteran roster that will be highly motivated after an extra inning loss in the Class 2A state final last May at the University of Maryland.


2022 record: 14-2

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 7

Coach: Carrie Clark

Players to watch: Madison Burns, Jr., P; Victoria Hudson, Soph., P; Alesia Rowe, Jr., SS

The Cougars get a slight edge in what should be an uber-competitive UCBAC Chesapeake this spring. Their hopes will depend largely on Burns, a Villanova commit, who primed to replace last year’s VSN Pitcher of the Year Madison Knight (Patterson Mill; Syracuse) as the top hurler in Harford County.


2022 record: 16-5

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 11

Coach: Paul Harris

Players to watch: Abby Graves, Sr., C; Sam Rickwalder, Sr., OF/Utility

The Comets will try to defend their Baltimore County championship. Graves and Rickwalder headline just four returning starters, but Harris, who guided Catonsville to the Class 4A state crown in 2021, believes there’s enough talent for a championship season this spring.


2022 record: 16-5-1

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 14

Coach: Tee Dronenberg

Players to watch: Allison McQueeney, Sr., IF/SS; Heather McQueeney, Sr., CF/C; Justyce Richard, Sr., P/SS; Brooke Weinig. Sr., IF

The Wildecats want to prove last year’s run to the Class 3A state quarterfinals, courtesy of an East Region I victory over Howard County champ Reservoir, wasn’t a fluke. Roanoke-bound Heather McQueeney, one of the area’s best base stealers, headlines a solid returning cast including sister Allison (.410 avg., 27 stolen bases), Richard (20 RBI last season), Nokomis Styers (IF; Lebanon Valley commit), Lauren Jascewsky (C/OF) and Weinig, who was an all-Howard County second-team pick last spring.


2022 record: 12-6

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 13

Coach: Anna Pallozzi

Players to watch: Reese Holden, Jr., C/3B; Jamie Shaw, Jr., SS; Nia Stewart, Sr., OF/2B; Serafina Tinio, Sr., Utl.

New coach Pallozzi inherits a solid roster (12 players) that should contend in Howard County. Stewart, Holden and Tinio are captains, and the Gladiators will have four reliable pitchers as they will challenge Reservoir and Wilde Lake in the always tough Howard league.


2022 record: 15-4

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 12

Coach: Kevin Klimko

Players to watch: Mallory Cooper, Sr., P/IF; Lily Dennis, So., 3B/P; Haliegh Frye, Soph., LF; Emily Hamp, Jr., SS/C

The Wildcats hope to build on last spring’s breakout season, reaching the Baltimore County final and Class 2A state quarterfinals. Cooper is one of the area’s top seniors (9-2, 1.60 pitching; .452, 13 RBI at plate last spring) and will form a solid 1-2 pitching duo with Dennis (6-1, 45 Ks). Hamp (first-team all-Baltimore County at shortstop) and Frye are also part of a veteran core.


2022 record: 12-7

Final VSN 2022 ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Steve Turner

Players to watch: Jasmine Kline, Soph., P; Emma Taff, Jr., C; Emma Tawney, Jr., SS

The Eagles could be the team to beat in Carroll County. They return a talented “Big 3″ in Tawney (.507, 35 runs scored), Taff (.554, 18 RBI) and Kline among eight experienced players. If able to get consistent pitching, Key should be in the hunt for a Class 2A state title come late May.


2022 record: 21-1

Final VSN 2022 ranking: No. 1

Coach: Jeff Horton

Players to watch: Mackenzie Knight, Soph., OF; Ella Laurentius, Sr., 1B; Alyssa Miller, Sr., P; Kelsey Price, Sr., 2B; OF; Savannah Reedy, Soph., SS

Despite graduating two-time VSN Pitcher of the Year Madison Knight (now a freshman at Syracuse), the Huskies will be in the mix for the UCBAC Chesapeake and 1A state championships. The Bel Air school will rely on offense with Mackenzie Knight (team-best 32 runs scored last year) setting the table from the leadoff spot.


2022 record: 10-12

Final VSN 2022 ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Joe Hart

Players to watch: Brooke Belange, Jr., IF; Taylor Castle, C, Jr.; Caitlyn Cornwell, Sr., OF; Kayleigh Fyffe, Soph., P; Julianna LeProhon, Soph., OF; McKenzie Weiland, So., IF

The Eagles could be a factor in the Anne Arundel County race. Maryland-bound Cornwell, arguably the area’s best senior prospect, headlines 10 returning players for the Pasadena school.


2022 record: 11-7

Final VSN 2022 ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Mike Hernandez

Players to watch: McKenna Deane, Sr. P ; Casey Thomas, Sr., SS

The Mavericks are primed for a charge at the Carroll County Athletic League this season. Deane and Thomas highlight a roster that graduated only two players from last spring’s Class 3A East Region I semifinalists.


2022 record: 7-12

Final VSN 2022 ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Pete Waskiewicz

Players to watch: Olivia Berger, Soph., OF; Ava Remesch, Jr., P; Olivia Ross, So., SS

Year two under Waskiewicz, who’s in his second tour as Sailors coach, could be big. The entire roster is back led by Remesch, who was an all-IAAM A pick as a sophomore last spring.

Derek Toney is content editor of Varsity Sports Network, a high school sports news network that became part of The Baltimore Banner in August 2022. 

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