Baseball coach Steve Swope, of Colonial Beach, has testified the varsity baseball team has faced its own set of challenges after facing a heavy dose of seniors in the district last season. But now, the Drifters believe it’s their time to make some noise in the Northern Neck.
“We knew it was a year of paying our dues,” said Swope. “We’ve been paying these dues and now we would love to come out, stay healthy, stay focused and let our slogan ‘it’s time to shine’ talk for itself.”
This season, Colonial Beach returns a large portion of their previous baseball players from a year ago. Swope said he is excited about the upcoming season and last one before he retires.
“We expect to come out, work hard everyday, play the game the right way and absolutely come out and compete between those white lines,” Swope said. “We know we are in a very competitive, tough Single A district known as the Northern Neck. Our challenge is to get out there each and every day and look them in the eye, giving our best game.”
Senior Dion Gonzalez (20 runs, 11 stolen bases), and sophomores Kamron Smith (.469, 31 hits) and Nick Graves (BA .522, 35 hits) return to lead the team as last year’s all district selections. They will be joined by seniors Gavin Lutz (three pitching wins, BA .260, 10 runs), Jason Vickery (BA .302, 13 runs), Josh Thomas and Sidney Horton.
“They are the glue to our team,” Swope said. “If they perform, lead and do good things, we’re going to do good things.”
Junior Carlos Bermudez and sophomore Ryan Thomas will also join the team as the top newcomers. Rounding out the rest of the team are seniors Devin Davis and David Allison, sophomore DezJohn Parker and Carter Foster and freshman Mikey Mothershead.
One new rule mandated by the Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee is the decreased number of innings a pitcher is allowed to pitch. Swope doesn’t foresee the new pitching rules having an impact on his team. Swope said the team is used to rotating his pitchers frequently to allow an equal amount of activity and rest.
“We’ve always done things the right way with our pitching staff even when it was not governed by these rules,” Swope said. “This will be nothing new to us…our pitching staff is pretty deep and we’re going to try and keep our kids’ arms fresh all year long.”
Along with some of the changes this season, the number of teams that can compete in the region playoffs will expand to allow six teams instead of four.
“We do have a couple more wild card spots there and we’re hoping to be one of them to give us a chance to make some noise at the postseason level.”
“When you are in the Neck and you have to face the perennial teams year in and year out…it’s tough to get in front of them in the standings,” Swope added.
Colonal Beach will be assisted by coaches Jonathan Parker, Randy Jones and Tyler Swope.