- Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 18:56
- Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 18:56
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Spring is eternal and optimism is high in the Drifter varsity baseball camp. The Colonial Beach Drifter’s varsity baseball team is back on the diamond, as the winds associated with the month of March begin their familiar sound.
With 468 wins under his belt, the thirst for winning continues to motivate Drifter head coach Steve Swope. Now in his 33rd year, at the helm of the Drifter ship, has patiently witnessed 42 aspiring student-athletes tryout for a spot in the Drifter program (middle school, junior varsity, varsity).
The varsity Drifter baseball team has nine players returning, with two years of varsity experience. Swope has added three
exceptionally talented junior varsity kids, while welcoming back another player, who played for the team two years ago. After graduating only one senior last year, the team has only one senior this season. “I think we will very much improved this season, with emphasis on having something special next year,” Swope said.
The core nucleus revolves around a solid eight players from the junior class. The addition of three multi-talented freshmen, the return of a four-year senior veteran makes this team tough as nails, top to bottom.
The Drifter way “pitching and defense” is stocking up arms and team speed to record outs. Gavin Lutz (2-0, 3.50 ERA, 21 strikeouts in 20 innings) returns to head of up the staff. Lutz will also play middle (short-stop, second base) on defense. Josh Thomas (3-3, 22 strikeouts in 22 innings) is back as a starting pitcher. Thomas will also start at catcher and hit the middle of the line-up. Davy Allison, Dion Gonzalez, and Travis Irvine will also provide solid arms for the staff.
Incoming freshmen Nick Graves, Kevin Smith and Dez’John Parker will jump into the fire on the mound. Graves and Smith have a huge upside as starters, while Parker is strong in the closer position. It appears that Smith will also start at third base, Graves at shortstop, and Parker will play first base, and backup catcher. All three of the aforementioned players will hit at the top of the order.
The outfield will be well covered defensively by leftfielder Jason Vickery, centerfielder Dion Gonzalez, and right-fielder Sidney Horton. All three fielders are fast with good range. Vickery is a power hitter in the middle of the batting order, and Gonzalez will use his wheels to bat leadoff. Horton is slated to be a quality bat control hitter.
Irvine will split his time between first base, and the outfield. Devis Davis, and Allison will battle and compete for outfield playing time. Mark Singleton, and Devante Harris will provide depth in the outfield, while using their speed in running situations.
With the realization that the Northern Neck is one of the toughest divisions in the state, the Drifters will have to bring their A-game every time they step out on the field. “Rappahannock will always be favored with Essex right behind them,” Swope said. “Depending on their pitching, Lancaster and Northumberland will continue to be competitive. Led by a dominant pitching staff, Washington & Lee appears to have one of the most talented teams they’ve had in a while.”
After a tough year in the district last year, Swope feels his team will be greatly improved; however, there is never a day of rest in the district schedule. “I promise we will play hard, and compete every day with our Drifter pride,” Swope said.
Baseball fans are encouraged to come out to Monroe Park, and see the Drifters on Thursday, March 8, they take on West Point, in a non-district scrimmage at 5 p.m. The Drifters will travel to Chancellor on Monday, March 12th to play their final scrimmage. The “Black & Gold” are back, catch the fever!