Prep Baseball Report

2024 VHSL 5A Season Preview: Region D


Staff
PBR Virginia/DC

 

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Region D was won last year by Independence, and the Tigers went on to reach the State Championship game in the spring. Riverbend was the Region runner-up in 2023 and Briar Woods, Riverside, and Stone Bridge, all programs that have either won a State Championship or finished as a runner-up in the last decade, also reside in this Region. Newly up to Class 5 and Region D this year is Lightridge, as the fourth-year program scoots up from Class 4. This is a hyper-competitive and very deep Region this year, and will be very interesting to follow as a result.

VHSL 5A Region D Preview:

Briar Woods

2023 Record: 9-13

The 2017 Class 5 State Champs had a down 2023 season, but a strong junior class should lead to a resurgence for them this spring. Seniors Cody Shughart and Hunter Dobson (Roanoke) will bring back some leadership and experience and junior infielders Max Lawson and Gage Strucko will also be key pieces for the Falcon offense this spring. There are also a handful of sophomores and juniors who could force their way into the lineup, which will make following them very interesting this spring as the lineup might look very different in May than it did on March 11. On the mound, senior Jake Ludwig (York) is back off of a strong junior season, and keep an eye on youngsters like juniors Jakob Eckhaus and Collin Waning and sophomore Bryce Stanford to push to contribute this spring as well in the rotation. Another interesting player is super-projectable freshman Daniel Sanchez, who will be one to keep an eye on in years to come.



Max Lawson

Class of 2025 / SS

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: SS
  • High School: Briar Woods
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Richmond Braves 16U Platinum
  • Height: 6-0
    Weight: 160lbs
  • Bat/Throw: S/R




Jake Ludwig

Class of 2024 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2024
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: RHP
  • High School: Briar Woods
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Stars Baseball Sisk 17u
  • Height: 6-4
    Weight: 235lbs
  • Bat/Throw: L/R




Gage Strucko

Class of 2025 / SS

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: SS
    Secondary Position: RHP
  • High School: Briar Woods
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Richmond Braves
  • Height: 6-0
    Weight: 175lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R






Independence

2023 Record: 19-2 *VHSL 5A State Runner Up*

The defending Region Champs have been a varsity program for three seasons and in that time have won a Class 3A State Championship, two Region Championships, and finished as a State Runner-up. They have played June baseball every year they have played so far. They lost some significant talent to graduation with the departures of Tyler Fetterman (East Tennessee State), Jackson McDonald (East Carolina), David Mendez (Dayton), Colin Scherer (James Madison), Chad Yates (William & Mary), Maddox Jordan (Averett), and Ben Ross (Penn State-Harrisburg). Most programs would be devastated by those losses, but not this Independence program, which will reload again this spring. On the mound, the pitcher with the most big-game experience coming back is junior lefty Carter Schuster, but there is plenty of depth to fill out the rotation and lineup with a slew talented two-way players. Junior Chase Obstgarten was a big offensive contributor last year and will become the focal point for the offense and could add some innings. Sophomore Colton Hicks started as a freshman at third base and will move to the middle of the lineup while also potentially chipping in on the mound. Sophomore Matthew Feldman and handful of others could end up forcing their way into time here as the Tigers reload for another run. Don't be shocked to see them still alive in June, again. 




Colton Hicks

Class of 2026 / SS

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2026
  • Primary Position: SS
    Secondary Position: RHP
  • High School: Independence
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Dirtbags 2026 Platinum
  • Height: 6-1
    Weight: 180lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R




Chase Obstgarten

Class of 2025 / OF

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: OF
    Secondary Position: RHP
  • High School: Independence
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Dirtbags Platinum 2025
  • Height: 5-11
    Weight: 185lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R




Lightridge

2023 Record: 10-11

Making the move up to Class 5 in 2024 is relatively new Lightridge, which will be having their fourth season this spring since opening. The Lightning have no shortage of talent, as one of the top 2024 MLB Draft prospects in Virginia will be the centerpiece in the Lightning lineup, James Nunnallee (Virginia). Other key pieces will be senior outfielder and leadoff hitter Donovan Newell (Christopher Newport) and senior middle infielder Tyler Rowling (Penn State). Sophomore outfielder Ben Drinkwine is also poised for a big season off of a very good freshman year as are junior infielders Jimmy Burpoe  and Jared Mitchell. On the mound, junior Mason Sproat is coming off of a fully healthy 2023 and he really surged late in the summer and fall. Look for him to anchor the rotation and be a potential breakout prospect. Sophomore righty Dylan Herr also was a standout in the fall and could push for big innings. Keep an eye on the upstart Lightning as a dark horse in the Region this spring.



Ben Drinkwine

Class of 2026 / OF

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2026
  • Primary Position: OF
    Secondary Position: 3B
  • High School: Lightridge
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Marucci Stars 2026
  • Height: 6-2
    Weight: 210lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R

Donovan Newell

Class of 2024 / OF

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2024
  • Primary Position: OF
    Secondary Position: RHP
  • High School: Lightridge
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: 5Star National Carolina
  • Height: 5-11
    Weight: 170lbs
  • Bat/Throw: L/R

James Nunnallee

Class of 2024 / OF

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2024
  • Primary Position: OF
  • High School: Lightridge
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: 5 Star National/Top Tier Roos
  • Height: 5-10
    Weight: 173.9lbs
  • Bat/Throw: L/R

Mason Sproat

Class of 2025 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: 1B
  • High School: Lightridge
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Richmond Braves Platinum 15u
  • Height: 6-2
    Weight: 205lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R


Riverbend  

2023 Record: 14-11-1 *Lost in VHSL 5A State Quarterfinals*

The Bears won the Commonwealth District regular season championship last week and advanced to the Class 5 State Tournament before seeing their season end. They lose their speed merchant shortstop, Billy Fluharty (Bucknell), and their big thumpers, Collin Snyder (Shepherd) and Tyler Benick, to graduation, but bring back seven other regular starters as well as most of the pitching staff. On the mound, big junior righthander Luke Alexander (James Madison) emerged as the staff ace last year, winning 8 games. Senior Reed Little and juniors Dylan Benfield and Jordan Higgins should round out the staff behind Alexander. Offensively, seniors Anthony Picariello (UVA Wise), Aiden Klimtzak (Carson Newman), and Luka Gilliam (Maryland-Eastern Shore). Juniors Logan Clarke and Ben Neal should also be steady contributors for one of the favorites from the Commonwealth District side of Region 5D. 

Luke Alexander

Class of 2025 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: SS
  • High School: Riverbend
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Stars / Devitt
  • Height: 6-2
    Weight: 170lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R




Riverside

2023 Record: 15-8 

The 2022 Region Champs advanced to the Region Quarterfinals in 2023 before seeing their season end at the hands of Riverbend. They lose their ace and a key bat to graduation with the departure of Kyle Johnson (Duke). Also gone is defensive stallwart and other big bat Cavan McMeans (College of Charleston) as well as arms Ryan Demartin (Georgetown), Timothy Siegel (Roanoke), and Conor Smith (Villanova). The Rams have plenty of innings to replace on the mound this spring, look for senior Tyler Kelly (William & Mary) and big junior Trey Graydon to push to earn a lot of work, and also keep an eye on sophomore two-way player Dylan Amos, who saw time last spring as a freshman and should push for a bigger role on the mound and in the offense this spring. Senior John Dell'Anno will be back as a key bat and the primary catcher as well. The Rams are always in the mix late in May for a State Tournament trip, look for them to be a very dangerous team by Region Tournament once players have settled into their new roles this spring.



Dylan Amos

Class of 2026 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2026
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: SS
  • High School: Riverside
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Dirtbags 16U Platinum
  • Height: 6-0
    Weight: 195lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R




Trey Graydon

Class of 2025 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2025
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: 1B
  • High School: Riverside
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: Xpress National
  • Height: 6-4
    Weight: 220lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R






Stone Bridge  

2023 Record: 13-11

The Bulldogs are coming off of winning season that saw them reach the Region Quarterfinals before their season came to an end. They do lose Jack Hayes (Old Dominion) to graduation, but have plenty coming back this spring, including 8 position players that started regularly last year as well four arms from the rotation mix. Speedy senior outfield Kaelin Rogers (Charleston-WV) will lead an offense that also features seniors Jackson Mazur and Kevin Caudell as well as big junior Luke Thoreson. Junior Jack Clarke is a potential two-way contributor and juniors Calin Burns and Bubba Sandoval as well as senior Mason Potter (Hood) should round out the rotation. Keep an eye on talented sophomore Matthew Belger, who could force his way into some innings this spring for the Bulldogs. 



Kaelin Rogers

Class of 2024 /

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2024
  • Primary Position:
  • High School: Stone Bridge
    State: VA
  • Summer Team: NOVA Premier
  • Height: 6-2
    Weight: 165lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R