Too Early Spring Previews: NOVA 6-10


Jason Burton & John Nolan
VA/DC Coverage

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As we slowly creep towards the end of 2021, the anticipation and excitement for another high school baseball season rises. 
Today we roll out our fourth and final installment of the Too Early Spring Preview, as we take a look at the highly anticipated NOVA Too Early Top 10 with teams 6-10. 

 

6. McLean Highlanders 

 

McLean will look to continue its recent strong run this spring with a roster that features a player who will be in the discussion for the best two-way player in the State, 2022 OF/RHP Griffin Stieg (Virginia Tech). Stieg will be the centerpiece in the Highlander offense that brings back 7 of its 9 starters this spring. Look for Stieg to also be a big part of the rotation which has a lot of depth this year. 2022 RHP Evan Fontaine (William & Mary) is coming off of a big summer and should give McLean a strong contribution on the mound, 2024 Aiden Carey earned All-District honors in 2021 as a freshman, and 2023 Jack Nance comes over from Maret to add another quality arm to the mix for the Highlanders. 2023s Chris Morabito and AJ Poole should see increased roles for McLean and add more depth to what is an experienced lineup.

7. Patriot Pioneers 

The Pioneers bring a lot back from a team that narrowly lost the District in 2021 and was eliminated in the Region tournament by Colgan in the semifinals. The Pioneers’ calling card in 2021 was offense and it should be again this spring with seniors Max Ehrhardt (Salisbury)Kyle VandenburgMason Balsis, and AJ Shepard (Indiana) forming a powerful middle of the lineup. Seniors Ryan Fyvie and Nicholas Leckert (Salem International) add depth to the lineup and are also coming off of strong seasons. On the mound, Patriot has a stable of arms to choose from, including seniors Parker HoggeNathan Bishop (Roanoke)Matthew Boyd (Lock Haven), and juniors Jakob Foster and Jordan Capuano among others. Assuming the Pioneers can get a strong season from that talented group, they will be a force to be reckoned with this spring.

 

 

 

8. Battlefield Bobcats 

The Bobcats are the third team from the Cedar Run District that we have put in this watch list, and for good reason. They and Patriot have dominated the District for a while and will both face the challenge of newcomer Freedom. Ace and two-way star Jackson Baird (George Mason) graduated, but the Bobcats will have plenty back to make another deep postseason run this spring. 2022 Carson Estridge (West Virginia) will top a rotation that has a lot of senior depth and will also feature fellow 2022s Jack Robinson and Kyle Zambrana. Senior Jacob Challberg (Richard Bland) will help out in the outfield and look for junior Cooper Harris to move into the middle of the order and become a centerpiece to the offense this spring. Keep an eye on juniors Grayson Snead and Jack Kuzmicki who could also end up being contributors as the season progresses.

2022 RHP Carson Estridge (West Virginia)

9. Independence Tigers 

The Tigers won the Class 3 State Championship in their first season of competition in 2021 and will jump up to Class 5 and the Potomac District this year. They had a stable of extremely talented arms last year and saw two graduate in Brandon Clarke (Alabama) and Sam Davies (St. Joseph’s). Also gone is Bryce Dolby (Mississippi), who transferred to North Carolina. Despite those losses, there is plenty of talent left on the Tiger roster and certainly plenty of high-end pitching for them to be a threat to make a run this spring. Senior Bradley Gagen (Tennessee) and junior Jack McDonald (East Carolina) should top a rotation that could also see contributions from junior Chad Yates. Defensively, seniors Jack Gagen (Tusculum) and Matt Ihle split time between catching and corner infield and senior middle infield Aidan McDonald (James Madison) and senior outfielder Josh Hand to be the centerpieces of the offense that should also feature senior Ethan Applegate and Yates.

 

 

10. Bishop O'Connell Knights 

The Knights are coming off of a mixed 2021 season that was extremely short due to the WCAC’s COVID restrictions. They did narrowly lose to eventual State Champion Benedictine in the VISAA State Quarterfinals and O’Connell is poised to have a strong team this spring that will challenge in the WCAC and be a tough out in the VISAA Tournament. The headliner this spring for O’Connell will be 2022 RHP/1B Jack O’Connor (Virginia). O’Connor is one of the top prospects in the entire state and is on draft boards. Also filling out the rotation are seniors Carson Mayfield (Cornell) and Bobby McDonough. Mayfield is coming off of a strong 2021 season and has a chance to really step forward and give the Knights two true aces. O’Connor is the centerpiece of the lineup, but watch for junior Michael Lavanga to be a factor there as well.

 

 

Hat Tip: Briar Woods, Highland School, West Potomac, Woodgrove