Stewart’s waiting to make a college pick
Check the answering machine tape, because you never know who could be calling, right? It could be a family member calling to say hello, someone wanting you to change your long distance service or the person who could play a part in determining your future.
In the case of Osbourn rising senior Jess Stewart, it’s probably the latter. As of July 1, college baseball coaches are allowed to make verbal contact with perspective recruits and Stewart is in many college coaches’ rolodex. Stewart said that almost all the top Virginia schools have made contact with him and that he has gotten mail from schools throughout the country.
“I want to hear from all the people before I make a decision,” Stewart said. “It’s so early in the recruiting process that I want to take some time before I choose. I am going to wait and see what everyone has to offer.”
Stewart said he has been contacted by Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison, West Virginia, Maryland, George Mason and Old Dominion. He said Virginia is his first choice right now, but he has not made a decision.
“I’d like to go to Virginia,” said Stewart, who is an honor roll student and scored over 1200 on his SATs. “They are really good academically and they play in the ACC, which is a good baseball conference…I also though want to hear what everyone has to offer. It’s hard to tell right now what I’m going to do.”
This summer, Stewart is showcasing his skills with the Harris Rangers under-18 AAU team. The Rangers just returned from the BAMA Bombers Independence Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where they finished in second place. The Rangers play in showcase tournaments throughout the east coast and earlier this summer won Virginia Showcase 2002 in Charlottesville. They are also the defending Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) World Series champs for kids 16-and-under.
“This summer I’ve been doing pretty well,” Stewart said. “We’ve been playing teams with a lot of graduated players and the competition is really tough.”
Stewart is capable of holding his own against top-level talent. He was the Cedar Run District Player of the Year at Osbourn and led the Eagles to the state quarterfinals. He went 8-1 with a 3.24 ERA, while striking out 58. He’s 3-0 this summer with a 0.78 ERA for the Rangers coming into last weekend. Stewart has given up six hits in 18 innings of work while striking out seven. He also has a save.
“Most of the schools are looking at him as a pitcher,” Rangers coach Mark Harris said. “A few are looking at him as a two-way player. He is throwing a little bit harder now than during the school year and is getting a lot of attention.”
Harris said that Stewart has been clocked at 92 mph this summer, up about four miles an hour from the school year. Harris is having Stewart throw about 80 percent fastballs to build up his arm strength. The 6-4, 210 pound Stewart is also working out at Harris Baseball academy in Manassas.
“If he continues to work then anything can happen,” Harris said. “I think another winter in the weight room will really help. Last year, he worked really hard and the work showed this past spring. If he can get a little bit stronger then he can bump himself up into a better draft position next spring.”
Stewart is projected to be taken on the first day of next year’s draft and will have the opportunity to play professionally out of high school. He could bypass college and sign with a major league team if he chooses.
Baseball America ranked Stewart the fifth-best player in Virginia entering his junior year and the 187th-best player in the nation. On July 1, Stewart was ranked the 235th-best player in the country by Baseball America and is on the Virginia Prospects To Follow list for next season.
DAGENHART TAKES AWARD
Jeff Dagenhart (Osbourn Park ’01) was named the Valley League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending July 7. Dagenhart, who just finished his freshman year at William & Mary, allowed one hit over seven innings for the New Market Rebels against the Harrisonburg Turks to pick up his third win of the season.
Dagenhart is second in the league with a 0.38 ERA and is third in the league with 39 strikeouts. He started the year in the New Market bullpen, making seven relief appearances before moving into the starting rotation. In his two starts, Dagenhart has only allowed three hits in 14 innings on the mound.
The Valley League plays a 40-game schedule in 7 1/2 weeks each summer. The 2001 season marked the 40th year as an official NCAA sanctioned league, and the ninth year as a wooden-bat league.
More information about Dagenhart and the Valley League can be found at www.valleyleaguebaseball.com.
VIRGINIA RAIDERS PLAY AT BEAST OF THE EAST
The Virginia Raiders 18-and-under AAU team went 3-4 at the Beast of the East baseball tournament last weekend in Wheeling, W. Va. The Raiders, made up of players from Stonewall Jackson, Woodbridge and Brentsville, scored wins over teams from Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia during the tournament. The Raiders competed in the 17 and 18-year-old division.
The Raiders opened the tournament with an 8-0 victory over the Indiana Bandits. Steve Shanahan threw a four-hitter and struck out 10 in the victory. Shanahan also went 2 for 5 at the plate with a single and a double.
In their second game, the Raiders got another strong pitching performance as Todd Coder allowed three hits in a 2-1 victory over the Michigan Cobras. Justin Carter, Chris Hickerson and Shanahan all went 1 for 3 in the game. Justin Adame, Garret Smith and Josh Walker each hit singles.
The Raiders lost the next game, 11-3, to the Minnesota Excelsior. Coder and Walker each went 2 for 3 in the loss. The Raiders also lost their next game to Andy’s 9ers, 11-4. Coder went 3 for 4 and David Plant went 2 for 3.
Virginia won their next game against Wheeling Post 1, 11-5. Sean Shanahan hit a triple and Erik Nguyen, Jason Eberz, Plant, Hickerson, Carter and Walker all had singles. The Raiders then lost their final two games, first losing to York, Pa., 11-6, and then to Somerset, Pa. 3-2.
The Beast of the East is one of the biggest tournaments in the country. This year, 108 teams from 15 states and Canada played in the tournament, which raised $1.5 million in revenue for the town of Wheeling, W. Va.
Members of the team are: Adame, Carter, Coder, Eberz, Hickerson, Nguyen, Plant, Ryan Rowland, Sean and Steve Shanahan, Justin Shifflett, Smith, Walker and Chris Walters. The team is coached by Mike Goins and assisted by David Goins and Ray Walker.
BULL RUN RAIDERS ALSO GO TO BEAST OF THE EAST
The 16-and-under Bull Run Raiders AAU team competed in the Beast of the East baseball tournament in Wheeling last weekend. The Raiders finished 5-3 in the 15 and 16-year old division and competed against teams from West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Team members are: Osbourn’s Ryan Adams, Randy Buswell, Greg Ward and Theo Jones, Gar-Field’s Marcus Nalls, Woodbridge’s Brett Spencer and Antonio Concepcion, Osbourn Park’s Sammy Fullerton, Fred Duquette and Bobby Anthony, Stonewall’s Ron Carrao, Courtland’s Jordan Keiser and Brentsville’s Matt Engel.
VIRGINIA VOLCANO GOING TO NATIONALS
The Virginia Volcano under-14 AAU team finished second in the Virginia state tournament June 21-23 in Newport News to earn a trip to the National Tournament in Norman, Okla. July 18-28. The entire team is made up of players from Prince William County.
The Volcano went 4-2 during the state tournament with two wins over the Virginia Breeze and then wins over the Virginia Cannons and the Hanover Heat. The Volcano lost in the state championship game to the Virginia Bombers, 10-6. The Bombers placed sixth in the nation last year.
Assistant coach Craig Steinberg said that Matt Bryant led the team’s offense with six extra-base hits during the tournament and helped support great pitching from J.T. Gregory, Matt Rainbolt and Todd Dailey.
Members of the team are: Bryant, Sam Bolton, Dailey, Tim Bailey, J.B. Blixt, Justin Kraft, Rainbolt, Eddie West, Gregory, Josh Steinberg and Jeff Hartman. The team is coach by Jim Bryant.
David Stegon covers summer baseball for the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8053 or by e-mail at [email protected]