Strong season predicted for Fluco baseball

Strong season predicted for Fluco baseball

By Toby Sherman, FCHS journalism program

Heading into the 2019 season, the Fluvanna varsity baseball team appears to be as strong as ever based on their athlete line up. Losing only three seniors from last year, the team will remain relatively the same as it was in 2018 when it had a record of 15-7.

The 2019 team is highlighted by depth, a strong batting lineup, and a determination to win. Along with past success comes a level of expectation that can be hard to live up to, but the coaches and players believe that they are more than capable of a successful season.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff will remain the same as last year, consisting of head coach Joel Gray, assistant coach Stacy Berringer, and assistant coach Chris Critzer. “We’re going to have to have a little bit of luck, but in all phases of the game, we should be strong,” said Gray.

Last year, the Flucos made it all the way to the semifinal of the VHSL Class 3 Boys’ Baseball State Championship. Gray is hoping to lead the varsity team to another positive year after winning the Region 3C Coach of the Year in 2018. “Our motto this year is going to be 136.2, because it’s 136.2 miles from the doorstep of Fluvanna County High School to the stadium in Salem where we can win the state championship,” said Gray.

Student leaders on the team will include senior Jacob Critzer, senior Ryan Groome, and juniors Cameron Shields, Andrew Ward and Kevin Ward. “I look forward to getting out there with the boys again. It’s my last ride and we’re going to make the most of it,” said Groome.

The Ward brothers, who are identical twins, will be at the forefront of the pitching staff and will combine to pitch a bulk of the innings this season. Last season, as a sophomore, Kevin Ward pitched a no-hitter against Charlottesville and combined for a no-hitter against Monticello. Andrew Ward underwent Tommy John’s surgery in 2017 and was sidelined from pitching for most of his sophomore year. However, he appears to have recovered well and is now fully healthy, topping out at 89 mph off the mound.

The team has set its sights high for the year, and hopes to prove the saying “defense wins championships” to be correct. “We have proven that we can play great defense and we have a strong pitching staff,” said Gray. The Flucos had a .964 fielding percentage last season, making only 23 errors on 636 total chances. The team also posted an outstanding 2.35 ERA (earned run average) and a total of 135 strikeouts.

Not only do the Flucos have talent across the field, but they are armed with an explosive arsenal of hitters. Senior Ryan Groome led the team last year with a batting average of .400, a .964 OPS (on base plus slugging), and a .520 slugging percentage. Fellow senior Jacob Critzer also performed well last year, hitting .323, with a .949 OPS and a home run to top it off.

The Flucos will be away at Madison on March 7 for their first scrimmage of the year.

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