Spring Forward: Central VA Championship Contenders


Jason Burton
Richmond Area Scouting Coordinator

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As we have crossed the midpoint in January and are now under four weeks to go until public school practices can get underway, we continue our look ahead to warmer days to come with more of our Spring Forward series. 

Today we will look closely at the State Title contenders from Central Virginia. Just as a reminder, these are teams that we think will be in the mix at the end of the season based on the talent that should be on their 2019 rosters. 2018 season finish has no bearing on this list.

 

2019 Central Virginia Championship Contenders

 

VHSL Class 6


Cosby One of the best infield duo’s in the area will be on display at Cosby High School this spring. The combination of Cade Swisher (Virginia Tech) and Zach Hoekstra (Radford) should lock things down on the left side and give great production at the plate for the Titans. With guys like 2019 Ethan Ianuzzi (Randolph-Macon) and 2020 Bobby Ayscue patrolling the outfield Cosby should be very strong defensively and carry some depth at the plate, but will the Titans pitching staff be able to keep opponents at bay? In one word, YES. They may have more depth and experience on the mound than any team around. With 2019’s Devin Miles (Randolph-Macon), Andrew Weight (JMU), Russell Bowles (Hampden-Sydney), and 2020 power arm Alex LaRou (VMI) they have the depth, experience, and ability to compete with any team around. The big question mark will be who will handle the pitchers? If they can get solid contributions from whoever wins the catching job then Cosby has a chance to be the last team standing in 6A.   

Manchester After graduating two key pieces, Scooter Ray (Lincoln Memorial) and Connor Kannon (Louisburg), from the 2018 Lancer squad this years team has some big holes to fill, but Zane Eggleston (Longwood) should be up to the task. Eggleston is a fierce competitor on the mound and should be able to keep Manchester in games to allow their offense to take shape around the youth of 2021 Clay Scott, 2022 Dylan Jones, 2021 Preston Robbins, and 2020 Caleb Cranor. They need to get some solid offensive production out of seniors Tyler Garner (Louisburg), Grayson Kcraget, and Jamie Kotula. The Lancers should be a really athletic and exciting team to watch, but they will be young and inexperienced especially up the middle of the field. If Eggleston and the rest of the arms can hold opponents down and allow the offense to grow the Lancers will be a team to watch at the end of year.

Thomas Dale After losing key pieces in Drew Camp (Louisburg CC) and Tyler Bailey the Knights will look to build off of one of the most successful seasons in school history. If they want to make it back to the final four in 6A again the Knights will need strong performances from senior Karson Jennings (Mary Washington) on the mound, as he will anchor the pitching staff. His battery mate Cole Garrett (VMI) will handle the catching duties and be the frontman in what seems to be a strong top half of the order for Dale. Garrett and Jennings should be accompanied by utility 2021 Johnny Oates, a smooth 2020 middle infielder in Raphael Rodriguez, and the plus speed of 2020 Chris Fredette patrolling the outfield. If the Knights can get production out of the versatile 2021 Dean Runyon and some big innings out of the big bodied, projectable 2019 pitcher Bailey Hodges the team could make some noise again in the playoffs. Biggest question mark this year will be how much production the Knights can get out of the bottom of the order. If they can produce some runs look for a solid pitching staff to make them dangerous in June.


VHSL Class 5


Prince George The 5A State Champions lost key parts in Tevin Tucker (West Virginia), Michael Peterson (Longwood), Hunter Carden (Randolph-Macon), and Evan Kozen (The Apprentice School). They will need some help from guys like 2020 Quincy Sippio and 2021 Nicholas Sober, but rebuilding they are not. With Justin Starke (VMI) handling the catching, Jacob Farrar (VMI) anchoring the infield, and Buck Forbes (Charleston WV) filling up the strike zone the Royals are more than capable of making another deep run in the playoffs.

Matoaca What was an inexperienced team coming into the spring of 2018 turned out to be a young, fiery bunch that got off to a great start last season before falling to Douglas Freeman in the playoffs. After graduating staff ace Jacob Waltman and CF/P Justin Parker (NCCU), they will need to lean on the arms of 2020 Troy Whitaker, 2020 Brandon Arrowood, and 2020 Chase Garrett to carry the staff. They are loaded with juniors and very talented all over the field with guys like Lucas Carmichael (William & Mary), Tanner Clements, and Ethan Everhart; but the biggest question mark will be can they establish some offensive depth that will take some pressure off of the staff. Look for this team to be around for the next few years with these talented underclassmen.

Mills Godwin Historically talent rich Mills Godwin will not disappoint this year. There are multiple teams in the area that have the ability to perform on the mound, but few have the offensive depth that the Eagles do. From the power bats of seniors Liam Deegan (UVA) and Noah Cornwell (JMU) to Mark Buisson and Sam Essex’s (CNU) ability to handle the bat in any way they are asked the Eagles have a deadly combination on the offensive side of the ball. 2019 Noah Berringer (Hampden-Sydney) should provide a boost in the outfield and will be a serious threat on the base paths for Godwin. On the mound the Eagles have multiple arms that will be a thorn in other teams’ sides this spring. Seniors Spencer Rife (Randolph-Macon) and Sam Landess (JMU) will be a great 1-2 punch for Godwin as they have the ability to shut down any offense. One of the keys for Godwin this year may be having a big year from 2020 Bryce Safferwich (JMU), who will patrol the middle infield and throw some big innings on the mound. If Godwin can stay healthy and focused on the task as hand they have all the components that go along with a state title contender.

Deep Run Want to see a talented team on “both sides of the ball” this spring? Look no further than Deep Run. With a group of very talented upperclassmen like Carson Jones (Virginia Tech), Eli Weisner (Furman), Brooks Mazey (Randolph-Macon), Brandon Hill (Roanoke), Tyler Bradt (VMI), and Hayes Fallen (Hampden-Sydney) their experience could serve as the key for this group that won region 5B last year before falling in the state semis. If there is one player that is their wild card this year and could do big things for the Wildcats it is 2020 SS/OF Nick Noonan. Pitching depth will be key for this team, but they are a cannot miss contender in the Richmond area.


VHSL Class 4


Hanover Different year, same story for the Hawks. Under the leadership of newly appointed coach Tyler Kane look for the Hawks to continue their annual display of quality pitching depth. With 2019 arms Eric Anderson, Will Bowles (High Point), Jack Goleski, and Cole Wallace (Randolph Macon) Hanover has no shortage of interchangeable parts on the mound. They have the ability to shut opponents down with their pitching depth and that will be important for an offense that is unproven at the plate. Look for the big left handed stick of Blake Doggett (Randolph Macon) and Lynchburg commit Colby Hutnan to anchor the offense. Can they score enough to take some pressure off of the staff? If so, don’t be surprised if the Hawks continue their decade long prominence in the Richmond area.

Powhatan After reaching the 2018 4A state tournament the Indians graduated most of their lineup, all of whom made great contributions throughout the year. The Indians appear to be coming upon a bit of a rebuilding year, but with two quality arms in 2020 Brandon Eike (Virginia Tech) and 2019 Timothy Hart they are going to be able to stay in games and take some pressure off of what will be a young inexperienced offensive group. When those two aren’t on the mound they make Powhatan really good up the middle, Eike at shortstop and Hart in center, but look for Eike to carry the load offensively for the Indians this season.

Midlothian After a strong turnaround in 2018 the Trojans are not looking to just compete, they are looking for a big season out of one of the most talented groups they have had in the last few years. With a big arm in 2019 RHP Camdton Furman (Randolph-Macon) serving as their ace and some younger guys like 2021 RHP Carter Lovasz and 2020 LHP Zach Vanderslice stepping up to help round out a solid staff, the Trojans have the pitching depth needed to make a run at the 4B Region and 4A State. The biggest question mark for the Trojans is can the likes of Logan Smith (Randolph-Macon), Christian Chambers (JMU), Tyler Moore, Evan Heine, and Camdton Furman carry the offensive load and come up with big hits when the time comes. If so, look for them to make some noise in June.  


VHSL Class 3


Hopewell With a somewhat inexperienced group heading into the spring, All-State outfielder Ricky Jones (Univ. of Richmond) is going to be the fixture of this Hopewell team. With the Blue Devils graduating staff ace Trey Burton and Dalton Hock (Averett) guys like 2020 LHP Brendan McComber and 2019 Ryan Johnson will need to carry the weight for the Blue Devils on the mound. They have some experience to anchor the outfield with seniors in Jones, Johnson, and Cody Hill, but will need 2021 catcher Sam Sylvester to anchor their defense and handle the young staff.



VISAA


St. Christopher’s The defending VISAA Division I Champs lost their most important piece with the graduation in Nick Biddison (Virginia Tech). The Saints will be reliant on senior ace Patrick Routsis (Old Dominion) to help carry them again in 2019 as he did down the stretch in 2018. 

Steward Lefty U rolls out another dominant force of left-handed pitchers that will make Steward a threat in VISAA Division II this spring. With the combination of velocity and pitchability 2019 Logan Ransom, 2020 Matt Gaither, 2020 Harrison Clifton, and 2021 Zach Rosenthal will be able to keep the runs down as the Spartans figure out their offensive identity. The defense, which looks to be youthful but strong, will be led by senior catcher William Glazebrook (UNC-Pembroke). With their depth of quality arms and a solid defense, Steward will be a force to reckon with come playoff time.

Benedictine If you do not get a chance to go watch a Benedictine game this spring you are missing out on what should be a special group for Coach Ryan. The pitching staff, led by 2019 Casey Green (Coastal Carolina), will be as deep of a staff as there has been in quite some time. Green will be accompanied on the mound by number one ranked 2021 Jay Woolfolk, 2019 Alex Marcus, three juniors in Bennett Lloyd, Brock Carter, and Jack Anderson (Army). Also playing a big role on the mound this year for the Cadets should be senior Alex Marcus and 2021 newcomer Brett Allen. Two sport star 2020 Jack Hall should handle the catching duties for Benedictine and be assisted by Jack Carpin (Roanoke), Brett Cook (Tulane), and Kyle Hendricks making up part of the offensive attack. Potential MLB draft pick Jamari Baylor should handle the shortstop duties and be the centerpiece of the lineup for Benedictine. If the Cadets can get quality AB’s versus high level arms and be efficient on offense look for the depth and balance across the roster to give the Cadets a chance to raise some hardware in VISAA Division I.




 

 


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