By Scott Richards
People in the past have spoken of the Dallas Cowboys or the New England Patriots as America’s team, but the truth is, they are just two teams that have done well in the NFL. It should not be forgotten that America’s game has been, is now, and always will be, baseball. My own fascination with the game began when my in-laws moved in with us at the end of 2010. My father-in-law was a New York Yankee fan dating back to the 30’s, so we became Pin Stripers by default, getting to know the different players in the different seasons.
Fascination with a game turned to a real love as I covered the Caroline High School varsity baseball team. Watching young men who had played together since they were old enough to pick up a bat, I learned as much or more about the game as watching it on television. Due to graduation from high school, players move almost as much as the pros. The big difference between the Cavalier Diamond Boys and the MLB players is simple. Caroline baseball is much more fun to watch because the players are at a level where they can play good ball, and the game is still fun for them.
The 2017 version of the Diamond Boys was no different. One of the comments heard this season after a game, win or lose, was how much fun these guys had. The fans, admittedly most of whom are family members and girl friends, became a close knit group complete with hugs and hand shakes and an occasional slap on the back accompanied by a good natured laugh. In the dugout, one of the team’s favorite past times was picking on sports writers.
As usual, Caroline sent its share of seniors to the ranks of the NCAA. Matt Carter, Conference 19 Player of the Year, First Team All Conference Utility Man, and 4A East Regional First Team Utility Man, showed enough prowess both on the mound and behind the plate defensively to be recruited by the college scouts in Virginia. Randolph Macon won the Carter lottery, where he will most likely be pitching.
Carter’s bat sang throughout the season, with a phenomenal 0.587 hitting average as well as a 0.634 on base percentage. He contributed 17 runs and 34 RBI to the Cavalier effort, collecting 23 singles, 11 doubles and 3 home runs on the year.
Collin Knowles, who has entered the work force, ended his high school career as lead off batter, sporting a 0.328 average at the plate. Knowles was no stranger to the bases, working a 0.403 percent on base to earn 23 runs and 5 RBI. In addition to pitching, he played short stop, where he earned Conference 19 Honorable Mention. It should be noted that his position is one of the more competitive positions from which to receive post season honors.
Bill Wojcik will be going to Marymount University to play third base. This is no surprise as Wojcik showed his ability to play the entire right side of the infield. The asset he takes to Marymount in addition to excellent defensive play is his bat. He hit 0.327 on the year with a 0.456 on base percentage. He had eight RBI, with 11 singles, 6 doubles and a home run. His offensive speed contributed 18 runs and a team leading 8 stolen bases.
Rounding out the batting this year, Zach Proctor, like Carter, worked both the mound and behind the plate. His contributions offensively included a 0.259 batting average and a 0.368 on base percentage. With 11 singles, 3 doubles and a triple, he was able to score eleven runs and had 5 RBI. Now that he is a Diamond Boy alum, Proctor plans to work on the family farm.
Behind these players is a young squad being raised up under the watchful tutelage of head coach Frank Dow, who many consider the dean of baseball in this region. From the game at Caroline Middle School, where several eighth graders have found positions on the JV team at the high school to the Varsity level, Cavalier baseball is well worth watching. If you missed this last season, do not despair, most of these guys play ball year around. And of course, there is next spring. Be there or be square, it is good ball, and then there is the NY Yankees…