BRD baseball preview: Might there be a shift in power?

SportsBaseballGeorge MasonCollege of William and MaryBuffalo Springfield (music group)

Looking ahead to the 2011 Bay Rivers District baseball season calls to mind the words of 1960s rockers Buffalo Springfield: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."

What that something might be is a changing of the guard atop the district standings. For the past two seasons, Poquoson High was very clearly the best baseball team in the Bay Rivers, putting together the finest two-year run by any team in a high-profile sport (basketball, baseball, football) in the district's 20-year history.

The Islanders won 56 of 58 games in capturing the 2009 and '10 Group AA state titles. But the Islanders graduated arms that pitched 183 of 187 innings last season, as stars like Kyle Crockett (Virginia), Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) and Adam Posey (Eastern Mennonite) have taken their talents to the next level.

Unless the Islanders develop some pitching quickly, their departure leaves a void that one of the district's other nine teams will happily fill. The most likely candidate to do so is 2008 district champ Tabb, whose top two pitchers are Division I signees: right-hander Patrick Corbett (Coastal Carolina) and Jared Lyons (Liberty).

York rivals Tabb closely with the return of its top two pitchers: Virginia Tech commit Tim Kelly and T.J. Rinoski. One potential contender not to be overlooked is Warhill, which returns its top three pitchers and six of nine starters from a team that lost 3-2 to Poquoson in the district tournament championship game.

Jamestown returns two pitchers capable of making it a factor, ace Kyle Majette, a junior, and senior J.T. Castner, who will play next year at William and Mary.

But don't count out Poquoson. All of the aforementioned pitching stars – and Old Dominion-bound Kevin Griffey of Smithfield – must still contend with a Poquoson batting order that returns five players who hit .325 or better last season.

Below is a look is a preview of the district in predicted order of finish.

Bay Rivers District Baseball

1.Tabb (14-8-1, 13-5 district in 2010): Corbett (5-3, 3.99 ERA), Lyons (4-0, 2.28) and Cody Norris (4-2, 3.08) provide pitching depth. Corbett (.531 batting average, 18 RBI) and OF Chris Kegelman (.357 avg) are the top returning hitters.

2.York (13-7, 12-6): The pitching staff goes far deeper than Kelly (5-2) and Rinoski (4-2). Kelly (.390, 19 RBI, 18 walks), Rinoski (.344 avg., 18 RBI), and Robert Wiener (.338, 16 RBI) are potent returning bats.

3.Poquoson (28-1, 17-1): OF Dylan Hill (.415 avg.), 2B Chad Funkhouser (.414), Marshall-bound SS Tee McConnell (.384), OF Matt Cawley (.333) and C Luke Hill (.325) are superb hitters and fielders. Pitching TBA.

4.Warhill (9-10-2, 8-9-1): Teddy West (5-3) leads a pitching staff three-deep in quality starters. Among six returning starters, West (.369 avg., 17 RBI) and Gill (.297, 17 RBI) had big hitting numbers last season.

5.Jamestown (12-8, 12-6): Majette (4-3, 1.83 ERA) brings a nice demeanor and fastball to the mound. George Mason-bound Tommy Vitaletti returns after missing most of last season with injuries, strengthening what should be a solid defense.

6.Grafton (12-10, 9-9): New coach Matt Lewellen returns only one experienced starting pitcher: Austin Bouthillet. SS Robbie Hiser (.400, 26 hits) leads an athletic group that should run the bases well and play good defense.

7.Lafayette (7-12, 7-11): District darkhorse? P Adam Emerson throws hard (upper 80s) and hits (.304). C Anthony Pietromonaco (.325), 1B Luke Van Bergan (.308) and 2B Casey Heikes (.306) also can swing the bat.

8.Smithfield (5-12-1, 5-12-1): Left-hander Griffey (3-4) makes the Packers competitive every time he throws. But Griffey (.273 avg.) and Hunter Coats are the only returning players to hit better than .200 last season.

9.New Kent (8-13, 6-12): Only four players return: Garrett Metheny, Hunter Pomfrey, Eric Salmon and Nick Valentino. Pomfrey is the only returning pitcher, so finding competitive arms is the Trojans' No. 1 priority.

10.Bruton (0-19, 0-18): The Panthers should be more competitive with returnees in P Blake Wills, P/IF Ryan Montgomery, OF Ryan Farley and IF Mike Engberson. Three or four wins would be no surprise.

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