High expectations for Kavs on the diamond

Published 2:14 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The success that Kenston Forest School’s varsity baseball team achieved last year has primed it for success this season.

The Kavaliers did not have a winning record in 2016, finishing 8-12, but they showed their strength late in the season. They advanced to the Virginia Colonial Conference tournament championship game after edging Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic School 3-2 in eight innings in the semifinals.

Kenston Forest loses five players from last year’s team due to graduation, including center fielder Jacob Morris, pitcher/shortstop J.H. McCarthy, outfielder/pitcher Dillon Dunn, third baseman Trey Watts and outfielder Jonathan Edmonds.

A young, talented corps of players populates the Kavs’ 2017 roster, which features four sophomores, three juniors, three seniors, two freshmen and one eighth-grader.

“We’re really going to shoot for a conference championship and to qualify for the state tournament and hopefully do well in that — very high expectations this year,” Kenston Forest Head Coach Scotty Atkins said.

He confirmed that last year’s postseason success is helping to drive those expectations with the hope of building on it.

“I believe our defense will be even better than what it was last year, and we’ve got a nice pitching staff,” Atkins said. “So definitely pitching and defense is going to be a key to our success this year.”

Leading the Kavaliers this season will be senior outfielder J.E.B. Buchanan and senior first baseman Tripp Jones.

Atkins said that rather than having two captains, Buchanan has been named a colonel, and Jones is a captain. The coach described both of them as vocal leaders, with Buchanan commanding the respect of the young team, and Jones setting a strong example in practice.

“And the pitching staff is led by Owen Marshall and Tyler White — both sophomores,” Atkins said.

The coach highlighted junior shortstop Chance Whitehead as a key defensive leader.

“He’s probably got the greatest baseball IQ on the team,” Atkins said. “He can play shortstop, catch, pitch, any position, great contact hitter and he has a lot of speed. … He’s a complete all-around player.”

Up-and-comers on the team include freshman catcher Elijah Warner and sophomore pitcher/middle infielder Daniel Parham.

Atkins said Parham was injured during basketball season, “so he’s going to miss the first part of the season, but he’s going to be someone that’s going to help us down the stretch.”

Eighth-grader Thomas Inge will provide left-handed throwing on the mound.

The Kavaliers begin the 2017 season Monday 4:30 p.m. at Westover Christian Academy.