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By Josiah Schulz
Saturday, June 27th was the perfect day for baseball. An evening neither too hot nor too cold, clear blue skies, and most importantly, stands packed full of spectators from the community. Socially distanced, of course.
“This was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen for a Shockers game.” said the New Market Shockers’s head coach Nolan Potts. “I have been here for 7 years and I don’t think we’ve ever had this many people here. Playoff games, nothing.”
For Pitcher Darrell Thompson, however, the pressure of a packed stadium would not prevent him from having an excellent game.
Thompson, a former Shenandoah University Hornet, would prove essential in the Shockers 5-3 victory vs. the Elkton Blue Sox, pitching 10 strikeouts in 6 innings, holding the opposing Blue Sox scoreless until late in the 6th inning.
When asked what was different about tonight as opposed to a normal night of Baseball, Thompson said this:
“The biggest difference is that the past 2 years I have been a reliever in the Frontier league. 6th, 7th inning guy. I haven’t started a game since 2017. I had my first start again tonight, so it felt great. It was good to come out here and have some competition in baseball again.
Ran out of gas a little bit in the 6th, gave up those back to back doubles on fastballs. 6th inning, just did not have as much life on (some pitches) and guys put good swings on it. Other than that, we scraped together a great win as a team.”
Thompson, alongside fellow Shockers teammate and current Colorado Rockies player Colt Harlow, were only recently informed they would even have the opportunity to compete for the Rockingham County Baseball League this season. When asked how it felt to be able to compete for RCBL, Thompson had this to say:
“Well, it was a little happy and a little sad at the same time. I found out on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week that the Frontier League season would be cancelled due to COVID-19. I had been in touch with Coach Nolan Potts, a former teammate of mine. From the get go, we said ‘if I don’t have a Frontier League this season then I still want to play baseball.’ I don’t need the money. I just want to get out here and throw with these guys.”
This was an emphatic victory for not only the team, but for the community of New Market as a whole. Spending the past 3 months away from any sort of sports or social interactions due to the Commonwealth of Virginia being on lockdown, folks were not only eager to return to the game of baseball, but thirsted for it. This win tonight quenched their thirst.
“An opening day win at home.. nothing gets better than that. It sparks a great atmosphere for the team and for the community, really bonds us together.. and a comeback win? Couldn’t ask for much more.” Thompson said with a bright smile.
The New Market Shockers look to improve their home winning streak to 2-0 against Broadway Sunday night at 6:30 P.M.
By: Mitchell Broughton
For the last few seasons there have been familiar faces in the RCBL championship series. The Bridgewater Reds and Clover Hill Bucks have clashed in the finals repeatedly since 2017, Bridgewater claimed the titles in ‘17 and ‘18. The Reds hope that 2020 is no different — it’s championship or bust.
“That’s why these guys play, to get to the championship series,” Reds manager Robert Sherfey said. “They’re competitors and that’s just the ways these boys were brought up — they play to win.”
Like most teams in the league, the Reds are welcoming some new and returning faces back to their roster this summer. Arguably the most impactful addition in the entire league is James Madison pitcher and former Red, Justin Showalter. The right-hander started out the 2020 season for the Dukes 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA. Sherfey had nothing but praise for the Bridgewater native, “[Showalter] is just a great asset, he’s going to really bring the best out of the rest of the team.” Also joining the Reds from JMU is another right-hander, Liam Grubbs.
Grubbs and Showalter are just two of the dozen or so arms that Coach Sherfey has compiled to help with the condensed schedule. He noted that every team this season is going to be star-studded, “This is gonna be a good year for the battle, any team could win it.” What’s going to be the difference maker is how each team handles their pitching with 21 regular season games in just over a month.
However, the true strength of the Reds will be in their core group of returning veterans. Coming back for what will be his seventh season in a Bridgewater uniform, Grey Sherfey aims to continue his strong stint with the Reds after batting .444 last season with 16 RBIs. Another big bat coming back to Bridgewater is reigning RCBL MVP Corbin Lucas. Lucas led the league last season with 43 RBIs while batting .483 through the entirety of the 2019 season. Finalizing the three-headed offensive dragon for the Reds is Jacob Grabeel who finished last season batting .314 with 17 RBIs and 4 home runs.
Robert Sherfey has been with and around the County League since he was young and with his son Grey now the oldest veteran on his roster (however just 22 years old), he knows the formula to win a championship — effort. “I expect no less than 110% from these boys,” Sherfey said. “I come out every day giving it all to them because I know that’s what I’ll get back in return.”
Bridgewater opens up the 2020 season on Saturday June 27th at Diamond Park to take on Stuarts Draft at 7:30pm.
By Adam Harnish
The RCBL is back, and continuing in our 2020 series, today we’re taking a look at the New Market Shockers.
The Shockers had one of the best regular seasons in the RCBL last year, finishing in second place, but suffered a devastating first round sweep in the playoffs at the hands of the Elkton Blue Sox. This year, the team is hoping to bounce back from that heartbreak in a shortened, jam-packed 2020 season.
The Shockers are managed by Nolan Potts, who earned Coach of the Year honors in his very first season at the helm of the team. I had the opportunity to speak with Coach Potts for a few minutes about the upcoming season for the Shockers, his expectations for his team, and just how exactly can you coach humbly after winning Coach of the Year in your first year??
The following transcript is lightly edited for clarity.
RCBL Staff: So, I’m not sure if you were expecting it or not, but despite the coronavirus and quarantine looming over us this summer, we will be having an RCBL season! How do you feel about the season getting started?
Coach Potts: I'm excited! Randy Atkins [the commissioner] had told us when the whole pandemic started, “be ready to play some baseball, because we're going to do everything we can to put on a season.” At times it looked pretty bleak, like it wasn't going to happen, but to his credit, he just told us to stay with it, hold on, and we'll be able to get some sort of season in...and now here we are, two weeks out from the start of the season!
It is really exciting to know a new season is coming up, especially for the Shockers. You guys had a really good regular season last year, but then a tough playoff exit in the first round. How is last season going to factor into this season?
Well, like you said, we had a really good regular season, but we kind of fizzled out at the end [of the regular season]. And then, in the playoffs, we had a three-run lead in the first run in the first game of the series against Elkton, and we blew that. And then we ran into arguably the best pitcher in the league last year in game two [Kris Lalk], and he struck us out 20 times in a playoff game! So, it was a disappointing way to end the season, but a lot of the guys we had last year are back, and they still have that taste in their mouth of unfinished business. We believed we were going to go on a playoff run, maybe make it to the semi-finals, hopefully finals...it was over way before any of us expected. And I think there's going to be a little more intensity this year for the guys, because they had a couple months of their college season taken away from them this year. That, combined with how last season ended, just will fuel the fire a little more for us.
Let’s talk about your players - you had arguably the best top of the lineup in the league last year. [All-RCBL] Pearce Bucher was a huge part of that, and there’s a whole list of guys that can really play...are most of those guys returning for the 2020 season?
Yeah, most guys will be coming back! I think Nick Goode will be the only guy not coming back, he moved up to the Falls Church area for a job, so schedule-wise it wasn’t going to work for him. But the majority of the guys are returning: Frankie Ritter (.366 AVG, 12 SB), Pearce Bucher (.352 AVG, 27 RBI)… we added Grant Thompson, who was hitting fourth for Shenandoah University this year, he's been really good there. And we’re getting a full season of Henry Delavergne (.333 AVG), he hits number two at Shenandoah, and played a few games with us last season, but he’s coming on for a full season this year. So, I think the top of our order, again, can match up with just about anybody in the league.
You mentioned Shenandoah University - a large majority of the players on your team are from that particular college. What is the relationship between Shenandoah and the Shockers?
So, I played at Shenandoah University. I graduated from there in 2015, and when I was at Shenandoah going into my junior season in 2014, I started playing for the Shockers in the RCBL. One of our guys, Zach Stiles, Mr. Iron Man in the RCBL [laughs], was trying to build that connection, where he would try to get Shenandoah guys that would stay in Winchester over the summer to play with the Shockers. And gradually, over time, over my seven seasons we’ve kept bringing in more and more guys from Shenandoah. My thinking is, if they can play there, they’ve got to be able to play a little bit. Coach Anderson [of Shenandoah] doesn't just take anybody off the street! And, word just gets around for those guys. For me, it takes the recruiting part out of it, because the Shenandoah guys all talk to each other about [the Shockers]. From [their perspective], they get to hang out with their buddies all summer, they’re already familiar with each other...I think 22 of the 28 players on our roster are from Shenandoah? So, it just makes sense for us.
Very interesting. Well, this season is exciting for you too, because you were voted Coach of the Year last year in your first year! Congratulations on that. How do you come back from the next season after winning that award?
Well...hopefully I just don't lay an egg! [Laughs]...no, I’m kidding. Just continue to do what we did last year. I think our biggest thing is going to be, can we get our guys to come to games? Last year, on paper, we were pretty darn good. But the problem was, we have guys that would take vacations for a week, and then once they get back, somebody else would have to go on a vacation for a couple days. We hit a groove in the middle of the season, but then guys started leaving, and that kind of threw a rhythm off at the end of the regular season. So, with this summer, hopefully we're going to have better attendance, because the guys just want to get back out there and play.
That makes sense.
My biggest thing personally about what I'm trying to manage is going to be the pitching. These guys haven't thrown live in three months! The hitters are going to be fine...I mean, it might take a couple games for the hitters, but they'll figure it out. My big problem is going to be, can I manage all the pitchers? I’ll have to keep them fresh and not overuse them...and make sure they're listening to their bodies. With a 21-game season played in only a month, we’ll have five games a week. And right out of the gate, nobody is going to be ready to throw 6, 7, 8 innings a game. So, we’ll be just trying to piece it together that way. Anyway, it was an honor to win Coach of the Year last year, but I would have traded that if we could have had more playoff success and a great run, so, that's what we want to do this year.
Absolutely. One more question for you, Coach: I'm curious, as you're gearing up for that championship run, what do you think is going to be the key for you guys this year?
I think across the board for the entire league, pitching is going to be what dictates who goes where this year. As you look up and down rosters, some teams brought in some really really good arms. Hopefully I'm not done adding arms! I got a guy from independent ball that hopefully can play for us...he's waiting to see if his season is going to get canceled. I’ve got another legit D1 arm that maybe got drafted, but he also maybe didn't get drafted, so he's got to talk to his coaches about what he needs to do. But I think the teams I can stack up on the most on pitching are going to be the ones that have the most success.
And you feel pretty good about your pitching this year?
I do! We have a lot of guys a lot of guys that can throw, but again it's getting them back into the groove. They haven't thrown off a pitcher's mound since mid-March! But, we can figure that out, I think we'll be good.
Well, Coach, we're really looking forward to seeing the Shockers back out there this year! And thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
Of course! I appreciate it, I'm more than willing to help the RCBL out in any way I can.
By Leyton Pullin
The Grottoes Cardinals had a less than stellar finish to 2019 losing their last nine en route to a league worst 9-19 record but General Manager and former head coach Bobby Swink seemed optimistic when talking about what 2020 had to offer. “We got kinda like a ‘Core Four’ that have been here since I started here which is Jacob Merica, Dylan Nicely, David Wood, and Keegan [Woolford]… they’ve all played prominent roles in my three years here.” Woolford returns from a season a year ago where he topped the RCBL hitting charts with a .484 batting average, 4 home runs, and 26 runs batted in. Woolford comes off a COVID-19 shortened season at Shenandoah University in which he only played 12 games but had 5 homeruns 20 RBIs and was hitting a solid .463 making him definitely on of the players to watch in 2020. Living up to their nickname the rest of the “Core Four” aren’t too shabby either with EMU’s Jacob Merica coming off of a solid 17 game season with the Royals where he hit his first career homerun, Dylan Nicely comes off a 2019 season in which he knocked in 23 runs, and David Wood who had a stellar 2019 at the plate as well hitting .422.
When asked about some new additions to the veteran lead ball club Swink said their focus was right up the middle, “We’ve been trying to get stable up the middle on the infield for the last couple of years and we’ve got a couple of guys we feel like can help with that.” Swink mentioned former Wilson Memorial talent Gage Wood coming from Ferrum and Bridgewater Eagle Isiah Blanks. Both Blanks and Wood just finished their freshman year at their respective ODAC institutions both not getting much playing time due to the shortened season. Another name Swink mentioned was the return of another Bridgewater Eagle Tucker Garrison a left-handed pitcher out of Spotswood High School who made four appearances for the Eagles and put up a 3-0 record with 14 punchouts. The last name Swink mentioned was that of Cam Irvine who had been with the team previously but is set to make his return to the red and black this summer.
The biggest change for the Cardinals this year won’t be the plethora of young talent coming in but the change at the manger position as Tim Nicely will take over for now General Manager Bobby Swink. Swink had high praises for Nicely as he was his assistant for the past three seasons. Nicely, a former Grottoes Cardinal himself, played college baseball at Bridgewater College and is a local baseball figure when it comes to Grottoes as he owns The Batting Cave indoor baseball facility in Grottoes.
Nicely and the Cardinals will open their season with a double header at Montezuma as they’ll square off with the Braves starting at 5pm on June 27.
By Leyton Pullin
On Saturday in Grottoes the RCBL held an umpiring clinic for its new and returning umpires alike to serve as a refresher with the long layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the 2020 Season two weeks away. RCBL Umpire In Chief Jeremy Washington said this clinic was more about the 5% of the game that the normal fan couldn’t call. “Most people can call 95% of a game like anyone can call someone out on a ground ball to shortstop but what we worked on today was more of the force play slide rules, interference, balks, and those types of plays.”
Those that attended the clinic included the likes of Marco Floyd who has experience in multiple Babe Ruth Virginia State and South East Regional Tournaments and some high school experience. Floyd was joined by VHSL Umpires and Umpires of different skill levels all looking to take their umpiring to a higher level in the second oldest baseball league in the United States.
The clinic featured a group of instructors from different backgrounds including multiple NCAA Division III umpires, a NCAA Division I umpire, a MLB Umpire, a Division III World Series Umpire, and a Minor League Baseball Umpire Supervisor. The Umpires that attended the training went through multiple drills throughout the morning where they were put in made up situations and had to react to the situation as the play developed. The Umpires were then put into action to officiate a scrimmage between The Grottoes Cardinals and The Montezuma Braves. The scrimmage was also a learning experience for the umpires that attended the training as their supervisors watched them and critiqued their mechanics throughout the game.
The RCBL Season is set to start on Saturday June 27.
By Megan Phelps
I had the pleasure to interview Montezuma’s second year manager, Chris Rush. Last year the Braves finished tied for 5th with a 12-16 record and lost in the first round of the play-offs. We go over the new changes for the season. Changes include expanding the roster by 3 players and added additional opportunities for free agents. Additionally, the 21-game schedule will be played in a one-month period.
In this interview, Chris Rush explains his plans for the Montezuma Braves. He discusses the players who will be returning, and the new players he has picked to join his team. Rush points out that he concentrates on the future of his team, not just the short-term season. This season will be one of the most exciting, with many talented players joining the RCBL from other leagues.
In your second-year coaching at Montezuma will you change your approach? How do you hope to improve your team?
“Our approach is going to stay the same, we did fill a couple of holes this year where we lost a couple of guys. We particularly added to our pitching staff and brought in some young guys. Our goal is to win it all this year, that’s every coach’s goal. We’re not looking for a quick fix, we did bring in a couple of guys that will only be here a year, but it was a limited number of guys. If we change our approach it would be going after quality players who will be with this team for 3-5 years. We’re trying to improve on last year while also keeping a core group for the next years.”
Who are your key returning players for the season?
“From the veteran standpoint, we have Kyle Armstrong who has been with the team for a number of years playing centerfield. He’s a utility guy who can also play the infield and pitches when needed. Brandon Lambert will be back with us this year. Brandon has been with the team for about four or five years now. Owen Stewart has been with Montezuma for a couple of years. Owen is primarily an outfielder but provided some pitching for us last year. We’ve got Gavin Rush coming back, middle infield guy, he brings some speed to the table for us. Going back to the first question, we did try to build our team around speed this season as well with the new guys coming in. Luke Paczewski was with us last year at third base and that’s probably where he will return this year with some first base. And then PJ Hanisak. All those guys were all-stars and I know PJ and Luke had a big year with some of their awards at the end of the season. We bring some tenure back with some of the players in a leadership role. We’re hoping it will bleed over to the younger guys we brought in this year.”
Who are the new players? Where did they come from and how do you think they will affect your team?
“Some of the younger guys we picked up include Grant Thomas who goes to T.A. [Tuner Ashby High School], really good baseball player. He has some good upside for his age. Noah Canterbury from Buffalo Gap [High School], who is another plus guy, outfielder, and left-handed pitcher. Both of those guys will see some good innings this year, on the mound and on the field. Michael Robertson, first year with our team and he graduated from Riverhead [High School]. He’s a middle infielder guy, outfielder, and he’ll be good at bat. Wyatt Campbell, he’s a catcher, and goes to T.A. For his age he is a good leader and a good command behind the plate. Those are not all, but some of the core guys that we see plus sides to. Especially with the expansion of the roster, and the expansion of free agents, we added some guys who typically play higher level type ball, whether that be Cape [Cod] or Coastal Plain. Those guys are definitely going to help us. But like I said, our goal wasn’t to go out and get guys like that and win it this year and not have anything next year. We wanted to have a good mix of quality players that could almost be leaders or mentors to these younger guys and could prepare them for the coming years.”
21 games is a lot of games to play in a month, do you have the pitching debt for this kind of schedule?
“Yeah, I think we do. It’s going to be tough for any team. You’re looking at needing a minimum of four or five starters with the way the schedule is going to play out. You can get away with less than that but you’re going to take a chance of injuring some of your pitchers. All these guys have baseball outside of this league and we, as coaches, understand that. The last thing we want to do is put them in situations where they’re going to hurt themselves or damage an arm. I think we will be okay; our bullpen was one of the big things we went after this year. Additional guys coming out of the pen, that’s probably where we were lacking most last year. We lost a lot of games after the 5th and 6th innings last year. We had some good-looking guys; we just didn’t have enough. We’ll see how the schedule plays out.”
What is your line up strategy for this season?
“This year the team we have is as deep as any team I’ve ever had. We pretty much have two teams we could put on the field at any time. That’s a big plus as a coach. You know no matter the circumstance, whoever you put out on the field will be able to compete. We will have a core which will probably be more than most team’s core. Our core will be between 14-16 players, not necessarily including pitching. Most people on our team should be pleased with their play time this year. I think they’ll do well for us.”
How do you think this fast-paced schedule will affect your players?
“For some of the younger guys it will certainly be different from high school ball. For the college guys, they’re used to two games during the week and a three-game series on the weekend. It will affect 60-70% of our team, but I don’t think it will be too big a change. Those guys who came from the Cape and Coastal leagues are used to this type of schedule. That’s where some of their experience will come into play and will motivate some of our guys as far as that schedule. It’s going to be tight but we’re looking forward to it.”
What is the biggest challenge facing this season?
“The competition that is going to be in the league this year. Things are different because we, as coaches, can see players get signed in real time. We see players who are released and who picks them up. Looking at that, the league is going to be up as far as talent and competition. I think it’s going to be pretty equal across the board. As a coach, not that you took any team for granted before, but every team is going to have really good talent. It will be up to the coach to take that talent and utilize it the right way. So, I think that will be one of the biggest challenges, utilizing the talent and how to use it, but also how we are going to face the talent we are facing every night.”
How have practices been with the coronavirus infringing on the RCBL schedule?
“We’ve actually been practicing for several weeks now. Our first 3-4 weeks of practice was mainly our local guys. We were trying to adhere to the 10-person rule, so we started out with 7 or 8 guys and worked our way up to 10. Once we hit stage 2, we had our first scrimmage against New Market here [Montezuma]. It’s been challenging trying to follow the rules and regulations of proper distance, but we’ve been able to make it work. We’re lucky, I know there are some teams that don’t have a field to practice on. So, even if it is limited, we are still fortunate enough to do that.”
How do you think the fanbase will be affected by the coronavirus?
“Honestly, I think this year Covid has had a big impact on our community, but I think that the community is looking for something. With RCBL being the only baseball in town right now I think there is potential for this to be a very big year for us. And that’s not just in the quality of baseball but in the fanbase as well. Hopefully, it’s not just this year but we continue to grow.”
By Adam Harnish
The 2019 season for the Elkton Blue Sox ended with the team just one win away from earning a spot in the championship. This year, the Blue Sox are looking to continue their 2019 success and establish themselves as one of the top teams in the RCBL. The team will look fairly different, however, as several big changes are being made for the upcoming season.
First and foremost, longtime manager Dave Loker is stepping down from his post, to be replaced by none other than his son, longtime RCBL slugger JJ Loker. In his first season as manager, the junior Loker is feeling good about the Blue Sox’s roster.
“We plan to compete with everybody,” Loker said. “We can compete with [teams like] Clover Hill, we think we’re gonna be just as good as them...we think it’s going to be a very competitive season.”
The second big change the Blue Sox will experience is a dramatic roster overhaul. RCBL teams will swell to up to 30 players in this shortened season, and for Elkton, over half of those 30 guys will be playing their very first season in the RCBL. Loker credits this huge wave of new players to local leagues shutting down for the year.
“There’s a lot of people who want to come up for the summer, who were scheduled to play in other summer leagues...they want to get some reps in, and [the RCBL] is the only place to do it!”
With those factors in mind, the Blue Sox roster is shaping up to be very intriguing. Anchored by aces Kris Lalk and Jacob Rich, pitching should be a strength for the team. Lalk, the RCBL 2018 Pitcher of Year, will be the top dog of the pitching staff. He posted an impressive statline in the regular season last year (5-0, 3.00 ERA, 56 K in 30 IP). Rich, for his part, won two victories in both of his playoff starts last year, earning a 1.18 ERA in 15.2 innings against the top two teams in the league.
Additionally, the team is adding two starting pitchers from Lynchburg College, in addition to former Blue Sox pitcher RJ Payne, and several of the top arms from the D2 university Lenoir-Rhyne in North Carolina.
Their pitching depth will be crucial in a shortened, jam-packed season. The Blue Sox are slated to play 21 games in one month, which will not only affect the pitching, but also the hitting. Many new faces will be contending for at-bats, so Loker expects there to be competition to make his starting lineup.
“It’s going to be challenging to get everybody in there, but if you’re a guy who can play the field, hit and pitch, that’s going to be vital for us this season,” Loker explained. “I’m gonna move guys around so we can see what everybody can do, so whoever earns their stripes will take the job.”
The Blue Sox finished in 7th place in the regular season last year, but with a revamped roster, the team has their eyes set on climbing higher and establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
With all the new twists and turns for the upcoming season, many RCBL fans are wondering just how everything will shape up. For new manager JJ Loker, however, his priorities for the Blue Sox’s season are crystal clear. When asked about what the team’s goal was for this summer, Loker had a simple answer. “To win a championship.”
By Mitchell Broughton
Coming off their first playoff series victory under general manager Bryan Duff’s operations last season, the Broadway Bruins have high expectations for 2020.
“We’re in it to win it,” Duff said. “That is the mindset going into every season, but with the talent that we are bringing in and the veterans that are coming back we are feeling really confident.”
For the most part this will be a different looking Bruins team. Starting at the top, a new manager in Chip Abernathy. Knowing him from the travel ball circuit, Duff had nothing but high remarks for the team’s new coach.
“He’s very competitive,” Duff told me. “Chip’s got a lot of good connections that we are excited about.”
How have the Bruins used Abernathy’s connections so far? Bringing in RCBL legend Bobby Wease as an assistant coach. Announced last week, Wease’s “experience and great baseball mind are going to really help us out this season,” Duff said.
With the coaching staff set, what familiar faces will we see in a Bruins uniform this season? First on that list is reigning RCBL pitcher of the year John Judy. In 2019, Judy led the Bruins with 65 strikeouts and only 28 walks, going 4-1 in his eight regular season starts. Playing a severely condensed schedule, 21 games in 28 days, the Bruins are going to need more than just Judy to step up on the mound. Helping him out are a pair of right-handers from Potomac State, Garett Haggerty and Brett Whiteman. Duff also mentioned that Bobby Wease had a hand in bringing in a pitching duo from James Madison, RHP Matthew Kleinfelter and LHP Liam McDonnell, who played for the Harrisonburg Turks last summer. Starting pitching was the weak link for the Bruins in 2019 according to Duff, but the new pitching core could prove to be one of the best in the RCBL.
Statistically speaking, the Bruins need to drastically improve upon their offense in order to win it all. Broadway recorded the lowest hits (210), RBIs (121) and home runs (3) in the regular season last year. Returning veterans like outfielder Matt Meiser (led the Bruins batting .327 in 2019) and infielder Tyler Ault (led the RCBL in 2019 with 13 doubles) come back as crucial members of Broadway’s offensive core. They are also gaining one of the best bats in the Colonial Athletic Association — shortstop Josh Jones from James Madison. As a freshman, Jones was second on the Dukes batting .297 in 49 games to go along with 53 hits and 27 RBIs.
Bryan Duff and his staff have high hopes for the Bruins in 2020. With a solid core of returning veterans and an impressive influx of incoming talent, their goal to win the title in 2020 seems as realistic as it can get.
Broadway will start the 2020 campaign against last season’s champions, when they travel to Buck Bowman Park to take on Clover Hill on Saturday June 27.
By Leyton Pullin
2019 was supposed to be a rebuilding year it seemed before the season began for the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks but the team found success early and often finishing with a 15-13 mark tied for second in the RCBL standings. The team found success with the longball as four Dbacks made up the top six homerun hitters in the league. When asked if he expects the same output this year Manager Les Sandridge said, “Yeah and it would be nice for us to find one or two others with big bats with the same pop.” Sandridge also mentioned the big swings of Cody Bartley and Will Haas who both found themselves near the top of the RCBL homerun chart and both part of a group of returners he expects to hold their own in the pandemic shortened season. “Triston [Childress], [Tyler] Wilcher, Cody Bartley, Brandon Minter, [and] Will Haas are all guys coming back that know what this leagues about and I expect them to hold their own,” said Sandridge.
Stuarts Draft may have found one of their other big bats in the form of new addition Jailey Paredes a 6’6” 220lb Junior. Paredes is no stranger to the Shenandoah Valley as he played last summer for the Staunton Braves in the Valley Baseball League. Paredes only hit in a few games last summer and hit two longballs and four runs batted in, in three games listed as a pitcher but played first base as well.
When asked about the compact twenty-one game season and the stress that would be put on his pitching staff Sandridge simply said, “Its gonna be tight. We’ll have to make do with what we have.” The Dbacks return another stellar arm from a year ago in Cody Bartley who put up a 4-3 record with a team high 44 punch outs.
Stuarts Draft will open their season with a two game homestand against The Montezuma Braves on June 28 and the Elkton Blue Sox on June 30 both games are at the Diamond Club.
By Megan Phelps
Donnie McNett was introduced to the Montezuma Concession Stand about 30 years ago when his father owned it and worked with the Braves. Since then he has taken over the business from his father. McNett finds this line of work rewarding because he enjoys the affect it has on the community. Revenue from his stand is important to the team because it helps them buy equipment such as baseballs and bats. McNett also donates the leftover food to the players on the field.
McNett will continue to use the food prices he has already established in years past for the oncoming season. Due to the meat industry prices rising there is a chance of a slight price increase of his famous McNett Angus Burger. In lighthearted rivalry, McNett’s states his opinion that there is, “no comparison” about if the McNett’s Angus Burger is better than the Clover Hill’s Buck Burger. Hard work comes to McNett’s mind when thinking of the stand. He compared his staff to family because in the hot days of summer they may bicker but they always find a way to finish the job. He states that he will continue to run the stand as long as he is able to do so.
Due to the Coronavirus, McNett has decided to place some safety regulations in place. Staff will wear gloves and masks and maintain six feet away from customers. It takes five people to run the stand so they will try and maintain social distancing while inside the booth as well. He believes this season will have the biggest turnout yet because of the Coronavirus. The Rockingham County Baseball League is one of the few sporting organizations that has decided to maintain its summer season. McNett says it is great environment for families because the environment is easy-going and they try to keep, “riff raff” to a minimum. Locals call Montezuma the, “Field of Dreams” because of the beautiful views once the corn is grown in the distance.
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