Baseball is the classic spring sport. Ahead of the start of the regular season next week, we’ll showcase all four Williamsburg high school teams and their goals for the year.
Last year’s record: 4-13
Panthers coach Feenie Carter will be the first to admit that Bruton has had some ups and downs over the past few seasons. With this year's team though, he sees great potential.
“We had some tough losses last year, but we also surprised some people with some wins against big teams in the region,” said Carter. “This year, I think we’ll have some real improvement this year, we’ve got some very talented freshmen on the team, and I’m very excited to see how they play this year.”
One of those standout freshmen players is shortstop Devin Cauthorne, who is eager to not only get playing time as an underclassman but to learn from the other members of the team.
“I’m excited to play for Bruton, especially as a freshman, I know how rare that usually is,” said Cauthorne. “There are some great players here, Coach Feenie is amazing, I’m hoping to learn a lot from all of them.”
Pitcher Clee Yocum, who has played for the Panthers each year since he was a freshman, hopes the new players can help the team end his senior year at Bruton on a high note.
“I know we have a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of talented newcomers will help with that,” said Yocum. “I know I plan to do my part, but I feel really good about this year, I know every senior wants to finish strong, but I think the team will surprise people.”
If that mix of longtime team veterans and talented newcomers can work together, Bruton baseball could be in for an exciting year, according to coach Carter.
“We have a young team, but a talented one, and I expect they’ll only get better with more field time over the season,” said Carter. “They’re already impressing me, but like any other sport, the best way to improve is to play.”
First game: Bruton vs. York at York High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.
Last year’s record: 5-11
The Lafayette Rams enjoyed some success last year, before losing to Jamestown in the regionals. This year, coach Rick Schenk says the mission is to remain consistent where the Rams are strong, and improve where the team is weaker.
“Last season, we finished high in the region, ended up losing to Jamestown who went to state, but we finished strong, we just lacked some of the hitting we needed,” said Schenk. “We are working on that this year, but our strength remains our pitching and our defense, and our core of senior players.”
One of those seniors, first baseman Ricky Sullivan, will be the first to admit there is room for the Rams to improve.
“We should have done better last year, we definitely struggled in the middle of the season, but we finished strong, and this year, we’re expecting to get a bit farther than we did,” said Sullivan. “We still have our pitching core, and we have some talented newcomers, so the pieces are all there.”
For senior pitcher Geo Rivera, what Lafayette needs most comes down to one thing: consistency.
“We had a great start, and a great finish, but that slump in the middle of the season hurt us,” said Rivera. “We need to be more consistent, we need to work on our teamwork, if we have that, everything else will fall into place.”
Rivera, who has already committed to play for Old Dominion University next year, also says he has a few last things he wants to achieve in his final season with Lafayette.
“I know I want to throw some more strikes on the plate and hit better when I’m at bat, but more than that, I want the team to do better,” said Rivera. “We came so close to states last year, and this year, I want the team to go the distance, we all do.”
First game: Lafayette vs. Smithfield at Smithfield High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.
Next Wednesday, The Virginia Gazette will wrap up its spring baseball showcase with a look at Warhill and Jamestown.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.