Prep Baseball Report

VISAA State Tournament Preview

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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

With the completion of the Private School Conference tournaments throughout Virginia this week, we have finally moved into the last act of the 2016 Private School season, the VISAA State Tournament. VISAA announced its three brackets on Sunday, and then quickly made an adjustment, moving all quarterfinal games up from Tuesday to Monday. Semifinals will be played on Thursday and Friday, ultimately culminating in a Championship Saturday tripleheader at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights this weekend.

Division I

Division I Bracket

Paul VI Catholic enters the tournament as the top seed and finished its conference play losing a best of three series to eventual WCAC Champion St. John’s College last week. The Panthers have one of the deepest pools of talent in the entire state, with a good lineup built around seniors Devon Adams (Old Dominion), Clayton Baine (Radford), Michael Coritz (Navy), Jack Cunningham (Boston College), and junior Michael Morgan (James Madison). Paul VI also has one of the best, deepest rotations in the tournament, with senior ace Kevin Kelly (James Madison) leading the way and fellow senior Tim Newell (Immaculata) leading a talented group of behind Kelly.

Collegiate School comes into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in Virginia, having won its last ten games and twelve of its last thirteen. The Cougars’ surge has been driven by the return to the lineup of senior Will Allocca (Virginia), who makes a formidable middle of the lineup combination with fellow senior David Angstadt (William & Mary). Junior Evan Justice (NC State) plays a rangy centerfield with a good bat as well as providing a potential dominant starter. Angstadt helps out on the mound too and senior Ben Greer (Washington & Lee) is another option on the mound for Collegiate. Collegiate lost an earlier matchup to its first round opponent, Norfolk Academy, in ten innings.

Flint Hill enters the tournament as the three seed and has an argument for having the most dynamic one-two punch on the mound in the playoff field. Top prospect and potential draft pick Khalil Lee (Liberty) comes into the game having thrown a five inning perfect game in the Thursday’s conference title game, piling up thirteen strikeouts. Lee’s rotation mate, fellow senior Robert Riddick (Virginia Tech) has the ability to dominate on the mound as well. Flint Hill has already faced its first round opponent, St. Christopher’s, early in the season, winning by the run rule.

Bishop O’Connell enters the tournament as the fourth seed and has had an up and down spring, with a handful of impressive wins. The Knights were knocked out in the WCAC semifinals in a pair of tight games by a hot Good Counsel team. All year long, O’Connell has been able to rely on senior ace Rafi Vazquez (Coastal Carolina) to win big games, and he has delivered all season. Down the stretch, junior Will Liverpool (West Virginia) has come into his own, giving the Knights a dangerous one-two punch on the mound. Vazquez anchors the middle of a lineup that also features senior Myles Hudzick (Duke) and Patrick Ryan (William & Mary).

The rest of the field includes a young Bendictine squad that has gotten stronger as the year has progressed. St. Christopher’s is also a younger squad that is missing talented sophomore bat Nick Biddison (North Carolina), but has senior Jeb Bemiss (Cornell) to run out on the mound. Norfolk Academy has been very tough to beat with senior ace Michael Parsons (Dartmouth) on the mound and has talented junior Matt Cooper (Clemson) in the middle of its lineup. Potomac is another young squad that has a chance against anyone when Daniel Albrittain is on the mound.

Division II

Division II Bracket

Greenbrier Christian is the defending Division II State Champions and is the 800 pound gorilla in this year’s Division II bracket. The Gators only lost one senior to graduation from last year’s squad, and have dominated their competition, with no losses to opponents from Virginia, and having not lost since April 1 on their spring trip. Senior Casey Williams (Liberty) has been dominant all season and junior Jason Hartline has emerged as a very good second option on the mound. Greenbrier Christian’s lineup is the deepest in the state and has been led by seniors Harry Brown (James Madison), Tyrin Everette, Garrett Jones (Navy), and Carson Henry (Old Domion) as well as junior Erik Stock (Old Dominion). The Gators have played first round opponent Norfolk Christian already this spring, and won by the run rule.

Highland School has been one of the surprise stories of the spring as the junior-laden Hawks snagged the number two seed in their first-ever VISAA tournament appearance. Senior two-way player Shane Buss (Juniata) and fellow senior slugger Mark Terrell (Stevenson) provide leadership for a very good core of juniors. Josh Pittman and Timmy Stephan have emerged as a formidable one-two punch on the mound for the Hawks, who have also gotten contributions from a number of other guys on the mound. Stephan has been a major factor at the plate as well along with junior centerfielder Noah Lerman, junior outfielder Jacob Zoller, and talented freshman outfielder Luke Burner.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy has been among the strongest teams in Division II all spring, but saw its TCIS tournament run come to an early end as Norfolk Academy upset the Saints in the quarterfinals. The Saints are deep and balanced on the mound, with numerous guys getting significant innings and sophomore Caden Anselm leading the team in that category. The Nansemond-Suffolk offense has been balanced all spring and has been anchored by senior Sam Neal, who is hitting well over .500 for the spring, with help from fellow seniors Dominick Claxton and Patrick Crossman, who are both hitting over .400 The Saints have already faced their first round opponent, Atlantic Shores, defeating the Seahawks in ten innings in April.

The Miller School is the fourth seed in the Division II tournament and has been solid all spring. The Mavericks are nearly impossible to beat when senior ace Connor Gillispie (VCU) is on the mound. Junior shortstop Tanner Morris and sophomore Ethan Murray round out a talented squad.

The Mavericks will face cross-town rival Covenant in the first round in a rematch from a few weeks ago. Miller School won a pitcher’s duel, 1-0, as Gillispie outdueled Covenant senior Matt Shobe (Bucknell). The Eagles, like Highland, are a very good team with a stacked junior class. Shobe and juniors Jacob Haney (William & Mary) and Will Moore (William & Mary) form the top of a deep stable of options on the mound. Juniors Luke Burton and Tyler Mahone (Longwood) can also pitch and bring good bats to the Eagle lineup.

Atlantic Shores Christian started the season by winning its first fifteen games before hitting a rough patch a few weeks ago. The Seahawks rebounded last week to sweep their way to a Metro Conference championship. The Seahawks have strong offense that has been led by the power bat of junior Niall Doherty as well as seniors Tyler Humphrey and Casey Turner. Sophomore Braxton Zivic has also had a strong season at the plate.

Steward is a younger team with a few veteran leaders in its lineup. Senior Dan McCarthy (Marymount), Theron Powell, and Kamron Smith (Northern Illinois) form the core of Steward’s lineup. Eighth grade lefty Harrison Clifton has shown a lot of potential throughout the spring. Norfolk Christian finished the season with a winning record and was knocked out of the TCIS playoffs in the quarterfinals. 

Division III 

VISAA Division III Bracket

Southampton Academy is the defending Division III champion and enters the game with a 21-3 overall record. The Raiders won the VCC Championship on Saturday with a run rule win over Kenston Forest. Isle of Wight is the two-seed in the Division III tournament and finished the season as the Metro Conference runners-up, losing a tight game to Atlantic Shores. Walsingham Academy enters the tournament as the three seed and finished the season as the TCIS runners-up, losing in the championship game to Greenbrier Christian.


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