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The Winchester Royals of the Valley Baseball League made the difficult but necessary decision to ban sunflower seeds and peanuts from Bridgeforth Field.
The concessions stand removed those products and fans cannot bring their own.
The team made the decision to stay compliant in their agreement with Shenandoah University to use the newly renovated stadium and turf field.
SU had asked the Royals to keep the field in the same or better condition from when they started the season which includes keeping the surface clean of any peanut or sunflower seed shells.
Those shells can burrow into the surface over time and cause issues with the drainage system and lead to the growth of mold.
Greetings from The Booth!
As we get ready to celebrate the long 4th Of July weekend, the awards and accolades continue to pour in for the Shenandoah University baseball team. Earlier this week the Virginia State Sports Information Directors Association handed out it’s all-state honors, and at the top of the list was Head Hornet Kevin Anderson, who was named VaSID Coach Of The Year. It’s his 4th such award, with 3 coming at SU, and his 9th overall Coach Of The Year accolade. Several of his players were also named by the organization. Kyle Lisa, Henry Delavergne, and Calvin Pastel are first-team honorees, while Pearce Bucher and Frankie Ritter were second-team picks. Congratulations, guys!
I don’t often write about tennis, but this week the Wimbledon fortnight has begun across the pond, and the early shocker is the first-round loss by Serena Williams to 115th ranked Harmony Tan of France in a 3-set thriller. I didn’t realize this, but Serena is 40, which is Methuselah in tennis years. The ageless Williams has been so good for so long that it’s easy to forget that she is at the tail end of her career. She has been the Tom Brady of tennis. Serena was noncommittal when asked if the aforementioned loss was her final match, but my gut tells me that she doesn’t want to go out like this.
Thinking of Wimbledon takes me back to the mid-70s through the early 80s when I was really into tennis. Summer nights would find me either at Lambert Park or Oatsdale Park in Martinsburg with my Wilson T-2000 and a fresh can of balls from Coaches Supply, ready for a set or two. It was nothing to stay on the courts until 10 pm and beyond. I also bought the tennis mags and followed the fortunes of my favorites like Borg, Connors, and Evert.
What made tennis great in those days were the rivalries, and the rivalries were great because of the contrast in styles. There is nothing today that compares to the icy coolness of Bjorn Borg going against the fiery Jimmy Connors or the volatile John McEnroe. How about Chris Evert versus Martina Navratilova? Give me a comparable contemporary feud–I’ll bet you can’t (OK, I’ll give you Djokovic-Nadal). And tennis had some great villains. Ilie Nastase comes to mind, along with Connors and McEnroe. It was a great time to be a tennis fan.
And I would always wake up in time for “Breakfast At Wimbledon” on NBC. No one could call a match like Dick Enberg (“Oh my!”) and Bud Collins. The matches would start early in the morning and continue into the afternoon on Wimbledon weekends, and there was little that could pull me away from the TV.
Eventually, my interest in tennis would wane, along with American prominence in the sport. But the two weeks of Wimbledon always has me scrambling to find a can of balls and that Wilson T-2000…
Enjoy the Fortnight, and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!
Greetings from The Booth!
As June replaces May and Summer unofficially begins this week with 90-degree temperatures, I thought I would cover multiple subjects in the latest VFB. First, congrats to Shenandoah University’s Tucker Kindig, who earned All-America status last weekend at the NCAA D-3 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio. His hammer throw earned him an eighth-place finish, good enough for the accolade. Kindig also shines in the classroom, with a 3.78 overall GPA. We don’t give the Track & Field athletes enough notoriety, so we right a great wrong here and put Tucker in the limelight. The All-America honor is the first in (Outdoor) program history, and it is well-deserved!
The awards continue to roll in for SU Baseball, which just wrapped up a stellar 37-12-1 season. Five Hornets were named to the NCAA All-Region team: Pearce Bucher, Kyle Lisa, Frankie Ritter, Calvin Pastel, and Henry Delavergne were honored by either the ABCA or d3baseball.com, with Lisa being named to the second team by both organizations. All five were named All-ODAC, and I’m sure all five would trade all that hardware for a chance to still be playing for a National Championship. Still, great rewards for a great season.
Speaking of baseball, it’s going to be a long hot Summer if you are a Washington Nationals fan. As of this writing, the team is 18-34 and haven’t scored a run in 21 innings. This is not the same as the 19-31 start in 2019, when the Nats recovered and won the World Series. This is clearly a rebuild for GM Mike Rizzo, and I think the best way for Nationals fans to tolerate what looks like a last-place finish in the NL East is to enjoy the young stars like pitcher Josiah Gray, who looks like he is going to be a keeper. Pitcher Erick Fedde seems to have come into his own after several struggling campaigns, and right now is clearly the ace of the staff. Josh Bell has been a mainstay, and Juan Soto is a superstar worth the price of admission. Now, if we could just get Stephen Strasburg back on the field…
Finally, staying in baseball mode, the boys are back in town, as we begin another season of Valley Baseball League action. For the next couple of months, players from all over the country will converge on communities like Winchester, Front Royal, Strasburg, and Woodstock and hone their craft in hopes of making “the show.” The VBL is, after all, “The Gateway To The Majors.” Lifetime bonds are formed with host families, as nightly games are played in quaint ballparks all over the Valley, as teams vie for the Lineweaver Cup in early August. This slice of Americana won’t last long, so get to a game or two before the Summer is over. I believe I just wrote a Country Time Lemonade commercial…so grab a tall glass and enjoy the game as the sun sets over Bridgeforth Field, The Bing, and Luxurious Rebel Park!
Until the next visit from (the air-conditioned) Booth…PLAY BALL!
Greetings from The Booth!
I’m writing this week’s VFB a day removed from yet another school shooting, this one in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts break for everyone in that community, especially the parents of the children whose lives were senselessly and prematurely taken away yesterday, and for the surviving students whose innocence was stolen forever. In light of that unspeakable loss, sports doesn’t seem that important. But life goes on somehow, and we will try to put sports in it’s proper perspective as we write this week’s blog…
Putting a bow on the Shenandoah University baseball season, there is nothing like that empty feeling in the gut when a season ends before it should have. I’m sure the host Hornets had every expectation of winning the NCAA D-3 Winchester Region this past weekend and advancing to the Super Regional round. But after a tough Saturday afternoon loss to Catholic, SU was forced to play again Saturday evening just to get to the championship round on Sunday. Down 8-2, the Hornets found a way to beat St. Joseph in a gutsy comeback win. Speaking of gutsy, Jacob Bell gave the Hornets 7-plus innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Cardinals that earned him a standing “O” from the sun baked crowd at Bridgeforth. Then, in a winner-take-all second game, SU jumped out to a 6-0 lead, then simply ran out of gas in a 13-10 loss which ended their season. That final game wrapped up a stretch of 4 games in 24 hours for Shenandoah, and as Head Coach Kevin Anderson told me after the Sunday win, “we’re running on fumes.”
When the sting of defeat wears off, the Hornets will look back on a 37-win season, an ODAC Tournament championship, a national ranking, and a championship appearance in the NCAA Regionals. You would take that in a heartbeat every time and not even take the field. Congratulations to Kevin, his players and coaching staff for another great season! The dynasty continues…
This past weekend, golf’s second major, the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Justin Thomas came from 7 shots down to win his second Wanamaker Trophy by beating Will Zalatoris in a 3-hole playoff. That is a great accomplishment, but he needed help. Leading by 1 shot and needing a par on the 18th hole, tournament leader Mito Pereira took one of the worst swings you’ll ever see from a professional and put his drive into a creek. He eventually bogeyed the 18th and missed out not only on the championship, but the playoff. Not quite Jean Van Develde material, but heartbreaking nonetheless.
SIDEBAR: Can we now put the Tiger Woods buzz to rest? What he did at the Masters was Alex Smith-like and no one can fault him for fading on the weekend. At the PGA, more of the same, as colder weather charged in Friday like a steer (one of 2 things that come from Oklahoma) and certainly affected Tiger’s injured leg. But until he’s actually in contention on a weekend, can we just back off on the almost excessive Tiger Woods coverage? Yes, he moves the needle and gets ratings, but I’m sure there are many talented players on Tour who must feel that they get no love whatsoever. OK, that’s my rant.
Players respond differently to pressure, and Pereira succumbed to it, while JT, who has “been there before,” thrived on it. Pereira hopefully will learn from the experience, and next time will be able to close the deal. Thomas is already a closer.
Until next visit from The Booth, God bless Uvalde, Texas…and GO HORNETS!