Richmond Area HS Season

No discussion to speak of here about RVA baseball?  Well, I'll try to stir things up a bit, and invite people to comment.

I haven't seen all teams, of course, but of what I've seen and read, here are a few things:

Top teams:  Interesting to see 2 private schools really leading the pack this year.  Both were expected to be strong teams, but I'm not sure anyone predicted them dominating as they have.

St. Chris lost its # 1 pitcher from last year when Jimmy Starnes transferred to IMG in FL, but nonetheless has come back with a stronger W/L record this year than last.  Nick Biddison may be the area's top catcher -- certainly from a throwing and hitting perspective.  Patrick Rhoutsis has stepped up to provide some 5th year leadership and a lot of big innings on the mound.  Hunter Andrews has played through some minor injuries but seems to be heating up with a spate of HRs of late. 

Benedictine is just a loaded team.  Casey Green is having a great season and it seems like he's handling a huge number of innings.  The lineup hasn't really had Cal Sigler (hamstring issues), who is one of the area's faster guys and a strong bat as well, though he's working his way back now and may be 100% by playoff time.  Still, you have Greg Ryan and Jamari Baylor anchoring one  of the tougher lineups in the area, with sophomore Jack Hall contributing a handful of bombs including one walk-off HR early in the season.  Their only loss was the big event a few Saturdays back at RF&P, when St. Chris came from behind to edge them in front of a huge crowd. 

I'm hoping we'll see these two in the VISAA title game!  That'd be one not to miss.

Strong teams who've played well as expected:  Prince George and Manchester are both very deep in their lineups.  Manchester has more pitching depth.  I'd love to see those two face off.

Biggest surprise teams:  I really didn't see James River coming.  Brian Hannum should get some COY consideration.  On the flip side, Hanover's offense has struggled.  Though they can be credited with having lined up maybe the area's toughest schedule, they've fallen short in a lot of their challenge games.  James River had a convincing win at Hanover early on, and Benedictine eked out a 2-1 win earlier this week with some key plays and some bad Hanover base running in key situations.

The year of the LHP's:  Does it seem like we have more lefties having strong years than we've had in a long time, if ever?  Jacob Waltman (Matoaca), Zane Eggleston and Eli Parks (both at Manchester), Camden Lazar (Freeman), Maddison Furman (St. Chris) and Carson Jones (Deep Run) come to mind as guys who're leading their teams to strong seasons.  Will Lopez (Hanover) and Logan Ransom and Harrison Clifton (both at Steward) have also been impressive in the past but I personally just haven't gotten to see them this year.  That's like 9 strong lefties and I'm probably forgetting somebody.

Newcomer to watch:  OK folks, if you haven't seen Benedictine's Jay Woolfolk yet, make a point of it.  Son of former UR basketball standout Pete Woolfolk, Jay is the first VA freshman I've ever seen to top 90 mph on the mound, and he does so consistently.  He's worked his way into the offensive lineup, too.  Earlier this week, he closed/saved a 2-1 win over Hanover, in a game where he also went 2-2 with the go-ahead RBI and had a runs-saving lay-out catch in LF to boot.  Woolfolk was also Benedictine's # 1 varsity QB last fall (again, this is a freshman we're talking about).  You're probably going to read a lot about this kid in the fall and spring for the next 3 years.  The 2-sport thing calls Russell Wilson to mind, but even Russell wasn't a 90+ pitcher.  With any kind of progression over the next 3 years, it boggles the mind to think what this kid could become.

Original Post

Thanks for the update Midlo Dad.  I've only been able to catch a handful of innings in "the legacy Dominion district" this Spring, and it was not "entertaining"....if you catch my drift.  I'll try to make a point of seeing Woolfolk during the playoffs.  He sounds like he has quite an athletic future.  

You bring up a good point about the private schools.  I don't ever recall the best private schools (St Chris, Benedictine, Trinity, etc...) in our area having better teams than the best public schools.   A few years ago Trinity was stacked, and a couple years after that St Chris had a decent team, but those were points in time and not all of them were good at the same time.   This could be a future trend for baseball in the area.

I've seen a lot of guys moving back and forth from public to private and vice versa.  I suppose this has always gone on, but it seems to be happening more frequently, or perhaps more with the higher caliber players, these days.

2 of St. Chris's current key performers began their HS years at Monacan.  Deep Run's top pitcher transferred from Steward.  Benedictine has some former Deep Run and Godwin guys in the lineup.  Godwin has one former Benedictine guy in its lineup.

The one thing I've been noticing lately is that after a run of having several 90+ guys in the area each year, we've gone through a lull the past few years -- having maybe 1-2 per season.  Then along comes Woolfolk and while he's only 1 guy, he may make enough waves to replace several.

We're nearing the end ... VISAA is in playoffs.  Quarterfinals today, semifinals Friday, championships Saturday.  Still holding out hope for a St. Chris-Benedictine finale come Saturday.  Those last 2 days are at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights, BTW.  Room for big crowds!

I also see where Manchester no hit L.C. Bird yesterday.  (Sorry, Fenway South!)  Eli Parks went  6, Zane Eggleston closed.  I suspect (but don't actually know) that Eggleston may start against # 3 James River Thursday afternoon, which would be interesting since JR actually got past him at JR earlier this season.  (Though he pitched well enough, just didn't get the run support as Skylar Petry controlled Manchester that day.)

Well, scratch a lot of that!  Benedictine stumbled yesterday, losing 1-0 in an elimination game, getting one-hit at home no less.  St. Chris did advance, but just barely, eking out a 2-1 win on a sac fly in the bottom of the 7th over Trinity.  So St. Chris moves on, but the rubber match I was hoping for this weekend won't happen.

Meanwhile, Eggleston pitched at Midlothian yesterday, so he won't be in the JR game tomorrow.  Kotula perhaps?

Thriller down at Shepherd Stadium this evening!  Collegiate and St. Chris were locked in a 1-1 tie into the 7th, as Furman and Stewart had a pitchers' duel.  With 1 on and 2 out, Nick Biddison walked it off with a towering blast that I think cleared the netting and landed on the roof of the house across the street in LCF.  I have to say, that kid hits the ball harder and more consistently so than anyone else I've seen in the area this year.  (Also has a cannon arm behind the plate; only Cougars runner to try him tonight got gunned down.)

St. Chris advances to the VISAA Div. I championship tomorrow at 6:00 against Norfolk Academy.  I didn't see their game, but apparently the two extra days the rain gave them allowed them to use the same 2 pitchers who snuffed Benedictine last Tuesday, and they did it again to Paul VI today.

Midlo Dad posted:

Thriller down at Shepherd Stadium this evening!  Collegiate and St. Chris were locked in a 1-1 tie into the 7th, as Furman and Stewart had a pitchers' duel.  With 1 on and 2 out, Nick Biddison walked it off with a towering blast that I think cleared the netting and landed on the roof of the house across the street in LCF.  I have to say, that kid hits the ball harder and more consistently so than anyone else I've seen in the area this year.  (Also has a cannon arm behind the plate; only Cougars runner to try him tonight got gunned down.)

St. Chris advances to the VISAA Div. I championship tomorrow at 6:00 against Norfolk Academy.  I didn't see their game, but apparently the two extra days the rain gave them allowed them to use the same 2 pitchers who snuffed Benedictine last Tuesday, and they did it again to Paul VI today.

Thanks for the update.  Biddison definitely impressed me when I saw him play and seems like a good kid.  Love to hear stories like the above + really glad for the young man.  Tech is getting a good one!

I don't know the boy personally, but to my understanding, he was an infielder until not too long ago.  At this point, his throwing alone makes him a great "get" for Tech, given how hard that position can be to fill.  I've only seen him in maybe 4-5 games but I can't recall any at bats where he didn't just hammer the ball.  The worst AB's I've seen are when he got under it and skied a major league fly out.  When he squares it up, the velocity off the bat is huge.  His first hit last night just about took one of the pitcher's feet with it into center field.  A line out to left threatened to take the LF's glove off when he made what was actually a pretty nice catch.  The bomb he hit was on a fastball that came in at least collarbone high, but that didn't matter.

Midlo Dad posted:

I don't know the boy personally, but to my understanding, he was an infielder until not too long ago.  At this point, his throwing alone makes him a great "get" for Tech, given how hard that position can be to fill.  I've only seen him in maybe 4-5 games but I can't recall any at bats where he didn't just hammer the ball.  The worst AB's I've seen are when he got under it and skied a major league fly out.  When he squares it up, the velocity off the bat is huge.  His first hit last night just about took one of the pitcher's feet with it into center field.  A line out to left threatened to take the LF's glove off when he made what was actually a pretty nice catch.  The bomb he hit was on a fastball that came in at least collarbone high, but that didn't matter.

Wow, sounds like he's just getting better + better.  And, that's what it's all about.  Thanks ~

I wasn't able to get there last night, but I see that St. Chris won the championship.  Biddison came out from behind the plate to close after Rhoutsis hit the pitch count limit.  Glad to see Hunter Andrews, who was hindered for the first half of the season with a back issue, complete a strong second half with a 1st inning HR that put St. Chris ahead to stay.

Midlo Dad posted:

As to public schools -- are they still playing regular season games?  Or are we into the conference tourneys now?  I'm wondering if anyone got their full allotment of 20 in this spring.

Regular season play has finished,  the conference play begins tonight.  For the Fredericksburg area teams it is conference 4A.

I'm afraid the news on any LCA games has failed to make it into print here in RVA.  Care to fill us in?  If I recall correctly, LCA is in the VHSL these days, though I forget which class they were put into.

One thing for sure, in single elimination, anything can happen.  Especially if a capable pitcher brings his A game.  (Or fails to.)

I just saw the headline 'William Byrd stuns LCA' in the paper today.  I think Byrd was below .500 this year and LCA was 17-0.  PBR said if LCA didn't win the region it would be the biggest upset this spring.  Defending 4A state champ/favorite out in the quarterfinals opens the door for somebody. 

# 1 seed Manchester got nipped at home by Franklin County yesterday.  Franklin got a hit batter, a walk and a 3-run homer right out of the gate and hung on as Manchester struggled to get runs across.  Zane Eggleston pitched well after the shaky start, and Eli Parks dominated the final two innings, but Manchester left the tying run aboard in the 7th.

That leaves the 6A regional field wide open, and if anyone is playing better than James River right now, I don't know who that would be.  They are a very solid defensive team, and they run the bases aggressively.  They can hit, but they don't just sit around waiting for the big hit.  When they get a lead, they tack on runs.  Skylar Petry has had a tremendous season, so it'll come down to whether their # 2 guy can keep them alive through the single elimination.

Another Roanoke area #8 knocked out a #1.  Northside upsets Tunstall in the 3D regional which just helps out Abingdon who is the actual favorite with a couple of the top kids in the state in Cade Hungate (FSU) who gave up 1 hit in 4 IP and Thomas Francisco (ECU) who knocked in a bunch of runs vs Christiansburg. 

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