Fluco baseball team is young but promising

By Duncan Nixon

The Fluco baseball program under Coach Joel Gray has been quite successful recently. They were Virginia Class 3C state champions before COVID. In 2023, riding on the strength of two Division I senior pitchers, the varsity posted a 16-8 record and played in the state quarterfinal.

This year’s prospects are a little more unpredictable. However, Gray is upbeat about the coming season, predicting that the team will come together as the season progresses and be quite formidable by year end. Two All-Region 3C athletes return. Junior Caden Harris will be a jack of all trades for Gray, doing some pitching and also playing at first base and in the outfield. Cody Peck returns behind the plate and is regarded as possibly the best defensive catcher in central Virginia.

In the infield, senior Lane Harris and sophomore Carson Raines are competing at third base. Sophomore Sam Loving, who a valuable sixth man on the basketball team and Kyle Harris are at shortstop. Junior Christian Lounsbury and freshman Brody Shields will man second base. Senior Maddox Warren and junior Thomas Custer will be at first base, and serve as a designated hitter.

The outfield will be manned by seniors Luke Black and Jackson Harris. They will be joined by juniors Jackson Fields, Jayden Hoy and Caden Harris, when not pitching or playing first base. Gray reports that this group of outfields has speed and strong arms.

The pitching staff is young and untested at the varsity level, but it has some promising statistics. Last year, the Fluco JV team posted a 17-2 record with sophomores Christian Crawford and Carson Raines doing the starting pitching. Transfer student junior left-hander Logan Horner comes over from Frank W. Cox High School, in Virginia Beach, a larger Class 5 school.

Gray’s batting order is not yet set, but he is looking at the possibility of Loving leading off, followed by Caden Harris (there are four Harrises on the roster), Peck, Warren, and Jackson Fields. Freshman Brody Shields is also expected to fight for batting time. 

Gray believes that his squad has “tremendous speed and base-running savvy” that will cause opponents maximum difficulty, assuming the Flucos can work their way on base.

The Flucos open their season on the road, playing at Harrisonburg on March 12 and at Liberty Christian Academy (LCA) on March 14. LCA is a real early test, as they finished fourth in the state in 2023.   The Flucos home opener is March 18 against Harrisonburg. On March 20, they travel to Broadway High and on March 26 they host Charlottesville High. Their last game in March is on the 28 when they host Albemarle.

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