Kavs were achievers in 2017

Published 12:23 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The achievement of a preseason goal signaled 2017 as a positive year of growth for Kenston Forest School’s varsity baseball team.

“Before the season started, we sort of set our goal to make the state tournament this year,” Kavaliers Head Coach Scotty Atkins said. “That was something we just barely missed out (on) last year, and we did that. We were the fifth-ranked team in the state on the final rankings, so that was a big achievement for us.”

Kenston Forest finished the season with a 9-8 record. The Kavs were runners-up in the Virginia Colonial Conference tournament, and as the No. 5 state seed, they fell 14-7 to host No. 4 Fuqua School in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state quarterfinals.

Atkins said the loss to the Falcons helped illustrate a recurring issue his team had during the season.

“We had a hard time playing at a high level for seven innings, and it seemed like one inning a game really took its toll,” he said.

Against Fuqua, “for five-and-a-half innings, we had the lead,” Atkins said. “But one inning really hurt us.”

But evaluating Kenston Forest’s season overall, the coach was pleased.

“Overall, I think we did a pretty good job,” he said. “We’ve got a very young team, and I think they’ve learned a lot this year from the mistakes that we’ve made and hopefully are ready for a big year next year.”

He cited junior shortstop Chance Whitehead as a leading standout on the team. Whitehead was named to the all-state and all-Virginia Colonial Conference first teams. He was an all-academic player, and among the school accolades handed out, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

“He did an incredible job all season,” Atkins said, expecting him to be the team leader next year.

Sophomore Tyler White, who split time as a second baseman, third baseman and pitcher, also made the all-state and all-conference first teams.

In 41 at-bats, he had a .537 batting average, with two home runs, 18 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

Senior center fielder Jeb Buchanan made the all-conference first team and all-state second team.

Highlighting more of the exciting success among his team’s young players, Atkins noted that freshman Elijah Warner led the Kavs in runs scored with 25, while also generating 13 RBIs and a .429 batting average.

Atkins said eighth-grader Thomas Inge also batted .364 and gained some state-level pitching experience by throwing a couple of innings in the state quarterfinal game.