The Severna Park softball program ranks as one of the county’s best.
The Falcons went to the Class 4A state championship game last year before losing to Sherwood, and several of those players returned for 2023.
Another thing that sets Severna Park apart is its coaching staff.
You can call it one of a kind – or four of a kind. Four members of staff played for former coach Meredith McAlister.
Two coaches from varsity and another two on the JV team run the program now.
This all happened after McAlister took an assistant softball coaching job in February at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania after coaching Severna Park’s varsity team for 15 years. She also won a state title in 2018.
She’s elated that four of her former players, including three of them who coached in the program last year, will keep Severna Park headed in the right direction.
“It’s incredible when your coaches want to come back to the school and help your program,” McAlister said. “For one, I think it speaks to the program’s tradition and culture.”
Bailey Benedick serves as the new varsity head coach. She worked as the JV coach the past two seasons. Varsity assistant Robin Buxton was a JV assistant last year. The two played club softball at the University of Maryland and were roommates.
“Robin and I have played together since we were 12,” said Benedick, noting they got their start in the Green Hornets’ program.
Darby Fein was the pitching coach for both teams last year and is now the JV head coach. Hailey Shipley joined the program this spring as a JV assistant.
“I think it’s a huge advantage because we are all familiar with the program,” Benedick said. “It’s not like a brand-new coach is coming in.”
The coaching staff includes two others: Roger Simones (varsity) and Ali Caulkins. Simones’ daughter, Haley, pitched for Severna Park and Caulkins will serve as the program’s pitching coach.
Of all the coaches, Benedick will get the most attention. She was an outfielder/first baseman for Severna Park and graduated in 2015.
“Bailey was young , like me, when I took over,” McAlister recalled. “She will probably be better at relating to kids than I was. She is very used to the emotions of her players and helps them play their best softball. She will get the most out of her players.”
Benedick inherited a team loaded with talent, and she returned two key players – junior catcher Sally Trent and junior pitcher Christina Ballagh. Six starters overall returned.
The team’s ace, Ballagh won 11 games last year and pitched 114 innings.
“She is very consistent,” Benedick said. “And she can still hit her spots even in most pressure situations.”
Benedick called Trent the best catcher in the county. Trent has committed to play softball at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She batted .553 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs last year.
Seniors Savannah Drummond (shortstop/centerfield), Olivia Edwards (left field) Skyla Hailey (first base) and sophomore Addison Bianco (centerfield/shortstop) also return as starters.
Senior Krissy Testerman plays right field; sophomore Ryleigh Smith, promoted from last year’s JV team, mans third base; and senior Alexa Jimeno (second base/designated hitter) completes the starting lineup.
“We have the talent, but it’s the drive and passion of each kid that got them to the state championship last year,” Benedick said. “They immediately carried it back. They were part of last year’s deep run, and they want to get back there.”