By Mike Hull
With six returning starters and solid replacements for the open positions, the Western Albemarle HS varsity baseball team enters the spring poised for a special season. Coach Skip Hudgins, entering his 35th season as Western’s varsity head coach, has high expectations for this year’s squad. Armed with a deep pitching staff with college-level talent, speed on the base paths, and strong bats, the Warriors are prepared for a deep post-season run.
“All of us have been ready to start this season since our year ended last year in the Regionals,” Hudgins said. “We return a solid core and expect big things.”
Scrimmage Play’s Ryan Yemen and Bart Isley share Coach Hudgins expectations. In their 2018 Public School Baseball Podcast, they call out Western Albemarle as “the team to keep an early eye on and the one others will be gunning for.”
The Warriors have considerable depth on the mound this year, led by senior Derek Domecq. A Radford University commit, Domecq is on the verge of shattering a number of Western pitching records this season. Another strong arm is fellow senior and Virginia Tech Football commit, Luke Tenuta, who brings power and experience as a pitcher and first baseman. Junior lefthander Jack Masloff has all the pitches in his arsenal to rank at the top of the Jefferson District. Masloff is a Division I pitching prospect who adds depth to Hudgins’ stable of hurlers. Sophomore right-hander Garrett Payne, who has verbally committed to NC State, is expected to capitalize on the momentum of his breakout freshman season and continue to make a big impact. Senior Mitchell Morris, sophomore Devin Powell, junior Zakk Hodge, junior Jacob Rusina and freshman Jacob Lively round out the Warriors’ potent pitching staff.
The Warriors infield is also tight, anchored by returning starters Chris McGahren at third base and Wyatt Hull at shortstop. A senior, McGahren has proven to be very reliable at the corner with a strong arm and good feel for the position, while Hull, a junior, has displayed the athleticism and range needed to make the tough outs at shortstop. With last spring’s graduation of second baseman Matt Mandell, Tyler Jones is poised to take his place and team up with Hull to lock down the middle infield. Sophomore Sims Sester is expected to make a big push for playing time in the infield as well.
The outfield will be without Sam James, a multi-year starter who graduated. When they aren’t on the mound, however, Masloff, Payne and Domecq will anchor a strong outfield, while Morris and Powell should offer the Warriors additional depth and outfield options.
Senior Brendan Campbell is ready to take over the reins at catcher for the graduated Ryan Sukovich, bringing a strong arm and sound baseball instincts. Junior Christian DiCesare, sophomore Garland Freeauf and Jacob Lively round out a deep group of receivers.
Come out and support your 2018 Western Albemarle varsity baseball team!
Mike Hull (announcer) and Jack Masloff Sr.(music) will be in the press box enhancing the game day experience while David Tidwell will have the grill fired up!
April/May Home Games & Special Events:
- Tuesday April 10 WAHS vs. Powhatan: Ross Freeland Bench Dedication
- Thursday April 12 WHS vs. Louisa: New Scoreboard/Batting Cage Dedication
- Thursday April 19 WAHS vs. Orange County: WAHS Student Raffle Night
- Wednesday April 25 WAHS vs. Fluvanna County: Peachtree Youth Baseball Night (Kids in uniform get in FREE)
- Thursday May 17 WAHS vs. Charlottesville: Alumni Night (Alumni Warrior players get in FREE)
- Saturday May 19 WAHS vs. Albemarle: Senior Night recognition
For a complete list of game dates and stats for the Western varsity baseball team past and present, visit the Western baseball website: sites.google.com/view/wahswarriorsbaseball