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College Baseball Kicks Off

JMU takes on Cornell earlier this season.
Photo taken by Sean Martino.
JMU takes on Cornell earlier this season. Photo taken by Sean Martino.

Although much of the college sports world is revolving around March Madness, college baseball season has also gotten underway. The season kicked off in the middle of February. The top teams include the defending national champions, Louisiana State University, defending national runner ups, Florida, and traditional powers such as Arkansas, Wake Forest, and Tennessee. Some teams feature strong pitching or a powerful lineup with multiple MLB prospects. The season will culminate with the College World Series in Omaha this June. Today we will be taking a closer look at some of the more local Division 1 teams that share these same aspirations.

Virginia Military Institute finished with a 26-29 record in the 2023 season. This was their best mark in several years. Spearheaded by second year head coach, Sam Roberts, the Keydets return most of their starting lineup and some key pitchers. VMI led the nation in stolen bases in 2023 and is sure to be a pest for opposing pitchers on the basepaths. VMI also had the 7th highest batting average among NCAA teams in 2023. Combined with this potent offense and aggressive baserunning, VMI should be right in the mix for a Southern Conference title.

Sophomore Trevor Hoke pays close attention to VMI baseball. He commented on their playstyle.

“VMI is fun to watch as they are ultra aggressive. This makes their games very exciting and also hectic for the opposition. They do not always have the professional prospects, but they play with a unique strategy,” said Hoke.

James Madison is a traditional middle of the pack team in the Sun Belt conference that features perennial powers such as Southern Mississippi and Coastal Carolina. JMU is coached by former VMI coach, Marlin Ikenberry. JMU returns two all conference infielders with Fenwick Trimble and Mike Mancini. JMU is known as being a very average program and is hoping to elevate to being more competitive with the top of the conference. The Dukes will take on plenty of local teams with matchups against VMI, Virginia Tech, and VCU all on tap.

University of Virginia is typically the strongest team in the area. They are a regular in the College World Series and reached Omaha last season. Although they lost many key players to the MLB Draft, they brought in a loaded recruiting class along with returning First Team ACC shortstop Griff O’Ferrall and outfielder Ethan Anderson. UVA plays a very challenging schedule with multiple early season tournaments before facing the gauntlet ACC schedule.

Senior Zac Majors has been following UVA baseball for many years.

“Obviously we lost a lot from last year’s team that was really dominant. This year will be a bit more up and down, but hopefully everything is solidified by conference play,” said Majors.

These local teams are all in different stages, yet they all feature talented players who may hear their names called later this summer in the MLB Draft. Many games are broadcasted on ESPN networks and are also close by to attend in person. 

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About the Contributor
Sean Martino
Sean Martino, Opinion Editor
Sean Martino is a senior editor in his second year of Journalism. Martino has been a Sports Editor in the past and is now an Opinion Editor. He is looking forward to working with the wonderful Prowler staff for the second year in a row. He enjoys the collaboration and the excitement that comes with being in The Prowler. Martino is a member of the RCHS baseball team and is involved in various other clubs within the school. He likes to spend his free time traveling the hills of Rockbridge County and supporting local eateries such as Don Tequila’s and Cookout. He also considers himself a passionate sports fan, and loves to watch his favorite teams. Following graduation, he is planning to attend a four year university to further his studies. 

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