Prep Baseball Report

VHSL 4A 2017 Preview

Click to edit entry

Follow @PBRVirginiaDC 
+ Periscope

By John Nolan
Virginia Assistant Director and Content Manager

Earlier this month, we began our season previews by classification by taking a look at the smaller public schools. We began with VHSL 1A and VHSL 2A and then released our combined 1A/2A Rankings early last week. Late last week we started moving towards larger schools as we took a look at VHSL 3A. Today we preview VHSL 4A and prepare to release our combined 3A/4A Rankings later this week


4A was one of the deepest classifications in 2016 with the 4A West Region having four teams ranked before the start of the postseason. The East also had some talent but was a bit top heavy. The early part of the 4A West playoffs saw a pair of no-hitters thrown as Conference 23 rivals Jefferson Forest and Liberty Christian both dominated their first round opponents. The Cavaliers win advanced them to a quarterfinal showdown with Kettle Run which the Cougars won in extra innings. Salem got by Loudoun County and Millbrook needed two days and extra innings to defeat Loudoun Valley and advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Liberty Christian was able to shut down Millbrook’s bats and the Kettle Run offense exploded late against Salem. Liberty Christian defeated Kettle Run to capture the West Region Championship.

In the East Region, Jamestown and Hanover both won their first round matchups with shutouts, Dinwiddie shut down King George’s offense in a first round upset and Lafayette upset Great Bridge in a pitcher’s duel. In the semifinals, Jamestown shut out Dinwiddie and Hanover blasted Lafayette. Hanover defeated Jamestown to win the 4A East Region.

At the State Tournament, Liberty Christian defeated Jamestown in one semifinal and Hanover defeated Kettle Run in the other. That set up a 4A State Championship game between two of the top three teams in Virginia and DC in 2016, and the game did not disappoint as Hanover won a back-and-forth contest to capture the Hawks’ third State Championship in four years. 


Name Position School Class Commitment
Cole Agee 2B Louisa County 2017 Roanoke
Wesley Clarke C Liberty Christian 2018 South Carolina
Avery Combs 3B E.C. Glass 2017 Hofstra
Noah Cook SS Amherst County
2017 Virginia Military Institute
Jack Darden OF Smithfield 2017  
Ryan Devine SS/RHP Jamestown 2017 St. Joseph's
Joey Doherty OF Midlothian 2017 Salisbury
Jack Dragum SS Hanover 2017 Virginia
Samuel Ewald RHP Kettle Run 2017 Virginia Military Institute
Camden Grimes 3B Hanover 2018  
Lliam Grubbs RHP Louisa County 2018 James Madison
Noah Goins 1B/RHP Kettle Run 2017 Patrick Henry CC
Conor Hartigan OF Millbrook 2017 USC Sumter JC
Justin Hanvey SS Woodgrove 2018 Radford
Kyle Horton OF Liberty Christian 2018 South Carolina
Dalton Jackson OF Great Bridge 2017 Navy
Hunter Johnson 3B Liberty Christian 2017  
John Keane C Lafayette 2017 Old Dominion
Ryan Kennedy LHP Millbrook 2017 Kennesaw State
Will Knight SS Amherst County 2017 Virginia Military Institute 
Alex Kobersteen RHP Courtland 2018 George Washington
Chris LeVere RHP King George 2017 Maryland Eastern Shore 
Nathan Loyd OF Amherst County 2017 Virginia Military Institute
Yareb Martinez SS John Champe 2017 Georgetown
Seth Mayberry RHP  Dinwiddie 2018  
Ryan Miles RHP Woodgrove 2017 George Mason
Kevin Mooney C Jamestown 2017 Georgia State 
Austin Murphy RHP Millbrook 2017 Virginia Military Institute
Blaze O'Saben   Fauquier 2018  
Cameron Ochsenfeld SS/RHP Denbigh 2017 Old Dominion
Nathan Perry C Bassett 2017 High Point
Eric Picucci 3B Midlothian 2017 Marymount
Josh Plummer OF Hanover 2017 Tennessee
John Reynolds RHP Louisa County 2017 Randolph-Macon
Geo Rivera RHP/SS Lafayette 2019 Old Dominion
Tomas Sanchez OF Dinwiddie 2018  
Kyle Schofield OF Freedom-South Riding 2018  
Will Schroeder SS/RHP Loudoun County 2018 North Carolina
Nick Stewart RHP Rock Ridge 2017 James Madison
Cameron Taylor RHP Heritage 2017 UMBC
Zach Thomas SS Eastern View 2018  
Cody Whitten LHP Jefferson Forest 2017 Winthrop
Cody Willis 1B Powhatan 2018  
Nick Zona 2B Hanover 2018 Virginia Tech



  Name Position School Year Commitment
1. Jack Dragum SS Hanover 2018 Virginia
2. Will Schroeder SS/RHP Loudoun County 2018 North Carolina
3. Nathan Perry C Bassett 2017 High Point
4. Kyle Horton OF Liberty Christian 2018 South Carolina
5. Wesley Clarke C Liberty Christian 2018 South Carolina


Teams in bold were 2016 Region Tournament teams. 2016 Conference Champions are denoted by Conference number next to their name (17).

4A East 4A West
Caroline Amherst County
Chancellor Bassett
Churchland William Byrd
Courtland Carroll County
Deep Creek Charlottesville
Denbigh Dominion
Dinwiddie E.C. Glass
Eastern View Fauquier
Grafton  William Fleming
Great Bridge (17) Freedom-South Riding
Hanover (20) George Washington
Heritage-Newport News Harrisonburg
Huguenot Heritage-Leesburg
Jamestown (Ironclad 18) James Wood
King George (19) Jefferson Forest
King's Fork John Champe
Lafayette Kettle Run (22)
Lake Taylor Liberty-Bealeton
Louisa County Liberty Christian Academy (23)
Midlothian Loudoun County (21E)
Monacan Loudoun Valley
Powhatan Millbrook (21W)
Smithfield Park View-Sterling
Woodrow Wilson Pulaski County

Rock Ridge

Salem (24)


Amherst County had a very athletic team that was young in 2016 and the Lancers narrowly missed the 4A West tournament. This year they bring back key pieces in their lineup in seniors Will Knight (VMI) and Nathan Loyd (VMI). Knight anchors the infield defense from short and will hit for high average with some pop. Loyd provides speed at the top of the order with some power as well. Also back will senior Ezra Baier (King) who will contribute on the mound and in the lineup. Look for the Lancers to have one of the more balanced offenses in 4A West and return to the Region tournament, where they will be dangerous.

Courtland is a program on the rise in Conference 19. The Cougars will be a potential threat to any opponent when Alex Kobersteen (George Washington) is on the mound and how far the Cougars will advance will be partially driven by if Kobersteen can make the transition from talented arm to ace. His mid to high 80s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball have the potential to make that jump. The Cougars also have a young core and how quickly that core matures will be the other major factor in how dangerous Courtland is in late May.

Dinwiddie reached the 4A East semifinals in 2016 and the Generals could be a factor to go deeper in 2017 as they bring back much of an interesting core of young talent. Junior Seth Mayberry returns on the mound after pitching to a sub-2 ERA as a sophomore and he will feature a mid-80s fastball this spring. The lineup brings back three key bats in senior Matt Culbreath (Eastern Mennonite) and juniors Zack Donovan and Tomas Sanchez. Culbreath and Sanchez both hit over .400 in 2016 and Sanchez has some home run power.

Eastern View had a strong regular season in 2016 but stumbled early in the playoffs and the Cyclones did not qualify for the East Region tournament. Eastern View brings back some key players and should be a solid team, with senior Ray Tricarico (Eastern Mennonite) and junior Zach Thomas combining to man the left side of the infield while forming the top of the Cyclone rotation this spring.

Hanover lost a lot to graduation as the Hawks 2016 class departed with its third State Championship and seven players headed to Division I to continue their careers. Despite all of that loss, Hanover is still loaded to bear with senior outfielder Josh Plummer (Tennessee) and junior infielders Jack Dragum (Virginia), Camden Grimes, and Nick Zona (Virginia Tech). Dragum and Grimes have hit near the top of the Hanover order since their freshman year, also look for Dragum to get more work on the mound where his fastball has been up to 90.

Heritage-Leesburg will look to return to the West Region tournament in 2017 and the Pride will lean on senior righty Cameron Taylor (UMBC) on the mound. Taylor has a good three-pitch mix that he commands well and he will give Heritage a chance to win every time he has the ball. Also back this spring for the Pride are All-Conference senior outfielder Chris Baer, fellow senior outfielder Matt Lannes (Eastern Mennonite), and senior righthander Nate Craner.

Jamestown reached the State Tournament in 2016 and sent four graduates to Division I. The Eagles will look to remain near the top of the Bay Rivers Conference in 2017 as they will have to rebuild their rotation around returning two-way talent Ryan Devine (St. Joseph’s). The lineup will feature senior catcher Kevin Mooney (Georgia State) and senior infielder Michael Schmidt, who hit over .400 in 2016.

Kettle Run won Conference 22 in 2016, going undefeated in conference play, and advanced to the State Tournament in Lynchburg. The Cougars lost two key players in centerfielder Brenton Doyle (VMI) and shortstop/ace Hayden Lilek from the 2016 squad, but most of the rest of the team returns. Seniors Sam Ewald (VMI) and Will Merriken (Roanoke) should take the bulk of the innings, Ewald sports a big fastball and Merriken pounds the zone with late movement, generating weak contact. Senior two-way player Noah Goins (Patrick Henry CC) has so much upside in his projectable frame that he could easily approach 90 on the mound or threaten to hit double digit home runs. Senior catcher Tyler Shaffer (Catholic) is a solid defender with some juice in his bat and will round out a deep and dangerous Kettle Run lineup.

Lafayette had a strong squad in 2016 and will be hurt by the graduation of the Lipcius brothers. The Rams will have a strong core this spring senior catcher John Keane (Old Dominion) and senior infielder Jered Antle manning the middle of the diamond defensively. Keane is capable of shutting down running games and Antle is a solid defender with both bringing plenty of doubles power. One of the keys to Lafayette’s 2017 season will be how much contribution they get from sophomore Geo Rivera (Old Dominion) who has the potential to be a dynamic two-way talent.

Liberty Christian were the Conference 23 and 4A West champs and State runners-up in the school’s first year of VHSL competition in 2016. The Bulldogs will look to build off of that success this spring and return to the State Tournament. LCA lost its top two arms, but will bring back a very deep lineup with big time talents in junior catcher Wesley Clarke (South Carolina) and fellow junior outfielder Kyle Horton (South Carolina). Not to be outdone, the left side of the infield will feature long time starters in senior shortstop Noah Cook (VMI) and third baseman Hunter Johnson. The Bulldogs will be very athletic defensively, helping out a pitching staff that will see new faces contribute in big ways. Horton brings dynamic speed to the top of the lineup and Clarke has been a force in the middle of the lineup since his freshman year.

Louisa County made the East Region tournament in 2016 and has an interesting roster in 2017 that will feature seniors Cole Agee (Roanoke) and John Reynolds (Randolph-Macon) as well as junior pitcher Lliam Grubbs (James Madison). Grubbs has a mid to high 80s arm and the potential to develop into an ace for the Lions.

Loudoun County is the defending champ of the eastern half of Conference 22 and feature a team built around one of the best true two-way talents in Virginia, junior Will Schroeder (North Carolina). Schroeder brings top of the lineup speed with middle of the order power to the lineup and a strong arm at short when not pitching in the high 80s.

Millbrook has had a stranglehold on the western half of Conference 21 for the last few years and should again this spring. The Pioneers suffered a blow late last summer, losing Anthony Simonelli (Coastal Carolina) for the year due to injury, but they still should have a very good one-two punch on the mound in seniors Ryan Kennedy (Kennesaw State) and Austin Murphy (Virginia Military Institute). The lineup is experienced and will be built around Kennedy and fellow seniors Conor Hartigan (USC Sumter JC), Nathan Jaye (King), Kyle Keenan (Villanova), and Gavin West (Shepherd). This is the year for the Pioneers to make a run with that massive senior class still on campus. Murphy has a big arm and Kennedy has real feel for this three-pitch mix, which will make them a tough tandem to score on in front of a very athletic defense with Hartigan’s speed in center and Keenan’s skills behind the plate.

Woodgrove shook off a slow start in 2016 to reach the West Region tournament. The Wolverines should again be solid in 2017 as senior pitcher Ryan Miles (George Mason) will give the Wolverines a chance against any opponent with his mid-80s fastball and outstanding curveball. The Wolverine lineup will have senior Clayton Roberts (Messiah) as well as junior shortstop Justin Hanvey (Radford) to build around.

Check back later this week as we release our combined 3A and 4A rankings and next week as we preview the WCAC, 5A, and begin looking at VISAA as well.