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By Leyton Pullin
The Grottoes Cardinals saw their shortened 2020 season come to an end in the semifinal round to the eventually runners up New Market Shockers.
The Cardinals ended up with a final regular season record of 12-9 that placed them third overall in the end of the year standings.
The Cardinals relied heavily on their offense led by the big bat of Keegan Woolford and the always consistent Dylan Nicely, both of whom are slated to return to the red and black this season.
Woolford is coming off of a successful 2021 campaign at Shenandoah University where they finished runners up in the ODAC Championship Series to Lynchburg. Woolford led the ODAC in homeruns (14) and was second in RBI (57).
Dylan Nicely returns to Grottoes after a successful season in 2020 as he was among the top ten in batting average with a .403.
Along with Nicely and Woolford the other two members of General Manager Bobby Swink’s “Core Four” are set to return for the Cardinals this year. Jacob Merica will be back in Grottoes this season and will look to make his presence felt as one of the quickest players in the league. Merica found himself among the ODAC leaders in triples (No. 6) in the 2021 campaign while at Eastern Mennonite University.
The final member of the “Core Four” is David Wood who returns to Grottoes and will look to continue his success he has had while playing for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals are also set to return two players that did not play at all in 2020 but were former members of the team, Eli Lam and Josh Pittman. Lam was sidelined for the 2020 season due to injuries suffered due to a car accident but played this spring for Patrick Henry Community College. Pittman was sidelined due to an undisclosed injury and had to sit out last season but will be back in Grottoes this summer.
Manager Tim Nicely is back for his second year at the helm for the Cardinals after a successful rookie campaign. Nicely did not reveal any names of the new comers to the team but did say they expect two or three new pitchers and position players that have not been in the organization before.
The Cardinals will open their season on opening night as they host Clover Hill on June 5.
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