By Julie Deacon
The Western Albemarle varsity baseball program had an outstanding season, further cementing themselves as one of the most successful, talent-filled, and well-led programs in Central Virginia. They headed into the regional playoffs as the top seed for the second year in a row.
The Warriors finished the regular season with an impressive record of 17-2, led by head coach Skip Hudgins and assistant coach Sam Parkins. The team scored the title of Jefferson District champions for the third consecutive season in addition to their near-perfect regular season record.
The Warriors’ season ended May 25 in a heartbreaking loss to Blacksburg, 2-1 in 8 innings, in the first round of the regional tournament.
The team set a program record this season with seven different pitchers having recorded a win, a feat made all the more impressive by the unusually high number. Few teams can boast so many different pitchers with that same skill and ability.
The team has been anchored by their four captains throughout the season: seniors Ben Winslow and Tommy Williams and juniors Aiden Carver-Woodson and Daniel Jones. All four captains have demonstrated tremendous leadership in addition to providing support on the field as some of the team’s most talented players. Pitcher and captain Ben Winslow committed to play baseball for Yale this upcoming fall, the first player in Western Albemarle baseball history to go on to play for an Ivy League school. Juniors Ezra Andres and Josh Lively were also integral to the team’s success, both among the top players on the team.
One of the most unique features about this year’s team is the depth they have while simultaneously being one of the youngest teams in recent years, a feat that Hudgins placed great emphasis on.
“After having nine seniors graduate from last year’s team, which was probably the most experienced and veteran group we’ve ever had, to this year where this is one of the least experienced, youngest teams we’ve had and to think this group matched last year’s, won the district, and was the top seed in the region is pretty remarkable!” Hudgins said of the team. “I am very proud of each and every one of the eighteen players on this team and our entire coaching staff.”
Hudgins has been coaching baseball at Western Albemarle since 1983 and has been integral in growing the program and fostering its success. Hudgins is a coaching legend, having racked up countless awards and accolades over the years with his most recent accomplishment only further solidifying his status.
In March Hudgins hit his 500th career win for Western, a milestone that has been accomplished by only four other coaches in the greater Charlottesville area. Hudgins has previously stated that he views this milestone as a program win and not just an individual one.
Last season, the Western team was also 17-3 going into the first-round regional playoff game, which also resulted a disappointing 2-1 loss, in one of the best-matched and most intense games in Warrior team history.