Excited as fans may be to see their Rappahannock Raiders take the baseball field this spring, they may have to a wait a bit longer on the count of the weather and field conditions.
Rappahannock Coach Larry Barker, who is excited for the season, admitted the weather has gotten to him as well.
“The effort is exceptional [by the team], but the biggest problem we’ve had is the weather,” said Barker. “It’s
been extremely cold and windy and we’ve only been on our game field twice in three weeks.”
Barker said as a result of the field conditions, the team has been forced to find alternative sites to practice.
In the meantime, the coaching staff is preparing their team for another season in the Northern Neck District. Since reaching the Group A Division 1 semifinals, Rappahannock has bid farewell to five players including Austin Bushong, Josh Jones, and all district selections David Robertson, Jacob Roberts and Flannery Collins. Collins was also named to the All State Team.
Coming into the season, Barker is greeted by new changes to the number of teams allowed in the region playoffs and pitching.
“I think one of the things that really bothers me is that we have to legislate doing what’s right,” Barker said, adding that goal is to give his pitchers as much rest as possible. “We figure to have a solid pitching staff, the deepest I’ve had since I’ve been here, and we hope to fill those losses this year.
Barker said he will be returning to the mound Eamonn Collins (BA: .401), who pitched close to eight innings at the state tournament, Dylan Dunn, Devin Sisson and Chance Herbert (.400).
Dunn and Sisson are among the top newcomers joining the varsity team this season.
With the losses to graduation, Barker said he lost some experience in the middle infield.
“We lost all of our three middle infielders, so we are trying to fill those voids and shortstops don’t come along everyday,” Barker said.
What set back the team in finding a potential shortstop was a knee injury to top returner Ken Pierson (.320)
“We are working all four of those kids at the middle field positions, especially at shortstop trying to fill those absences and losses,” Barker said.
Rappaahnnock’s top returners include catcher Will Hoover (first team all district, .380), outfielder Tucker Douglas (.280), Dillion Selph (.180); first baseman/pitcher Mitchell Hale (.260), outfielder Marquise Lanier (.280) and Dillion Selph (.180).
Dunn and Sisson join a collection of newcomers including second baseman Seth Elbourn, third baseman Austin Hall, and outfielders Romeo Jackson, Austin Scott and Hunter Sanders.
Last season the Raiders finished the district 7-3, finished second in the district tournament next to Essex, and won the Region A Division 1 championship. Last year was the team’s fourth straight trip to the Group A Division 1 State Baseball Tournament.