By Nathan Seidel
The baseball team has started the year red hot, pummeling three out of their first four opponents by 10 or more runs and coming from 10 runs down to top Roanoke Valley Christian 14-10.
Several Raiders have been on a roll hitting the ball, with two players’ batting averages at .400 or above. Justin Jensen (‘16) and Josh Greenway (‘17) have led the team so far, as they have combined for 32 runs scored and 25 RBIs (runs batted in) between the two of them.
Even after the fast start, the team lost a blowout to the Eagles of Covenant. Greenway thinks the team can perform at a much higher level than they played against Covenant.
“Our season started off really well,” Greenway said, “We’ve only lost two games, but we haven’t been playing as good as I thought we should.”
The highlight of the 2015 campaign was a game where the Raiders found themselves down by 10 runs to RVCS and managed to claw their way back for a four-run victory. RVCS’s pitchers walked 18 hitters in the game, allowing the Raiders to score 13 runs in the sixth inning to take the lead.
This win was big for the Raiders, showing that they do not crumble when down big. The win gives the team momentum for the rest of the season.
“As the season goes on,” Jensen said, “We’ll get better and hopefully make a run at states.”
The team is looking to purge the memories of last season, when they lost in the state semifinals to Fuqua 5-4.
Even with the momentum of revenge driving them, the Raiders fell to Fuqua again last Saturday by one run, 6-5. Fuqua scored five unearned runs in the second inning, dealing a mortal blow to the Raiders.
The team’s first six games were blowouts, but they have played in more close games of late. Next up for the Raiders is a showdown with the Bulldogs of Liberty Christian (LCA), a familiar foe that has already achieved a 7-0-1 record so far this year. The Bulldogs’ last two games were a 23-0 shellacking of Virginia Episcopal School (VES), and a 13-0 victory over Fishburne Military.
The LCA game will be a tough test for the Raiders, and a victory would likely catapult them even higher than their state ranking of third overall. The team wants to do everything it can to go deep into the state tournament again this year.
Coach Eric Lawrence shares the goal of his players. “I think that making it to the state title game would mean that we came together as a team,” he said, “and accomplished some things that even we didn’t know we could accomplish.”
By Piers McGinn
The boys lacrosse team (1-3) has gotten off a to a shaky start, but players and coaches believe through hard work and determination, they can turn it around and make the state tournament.
“I think we can definitely turn it around,” attackman Holden Johnson (’15) said. “[Stephen] Belderes is a great coach. We, as a team, are figuring out the best lineup and as the season progresses, we should be able to compete for a spot in states.”
The team lost their first game of the season at home against cross-town rival Roanoke Catholic School 8-7. Isaiah Harris (’15) led the team in both goals and assists with 3 and 1, while Will Perry (’16) had 15 saves.
“We should have won that game,” said midfielder Ryan Dent (’15). “We did not execute as well as we should have, but I think if we watch the film and learn from our mistakes we can beat them next time we see them.”
The team went back to work over the next few days to prepare for Nansemond-Suffolk, the No. 1 team in the state at the time. The team lost 5-3. Gray Pollock (’18) led the team with two goals, Massey Semler (’17) had one assist, while Will Perry (’16) had 12 saves.
“The defense played great,” Dent said. “We held the No. 1 team in the state to only five goals, but we did not execute as well as we should have on offense”
One big test for the Raiders was when they played Liberty Christian Academy (LCA). At the end of the fourth quarter, there was a sense of relief from the team. They had won their first game of the season, 13-4, against one of the few Division I teams they will see. Harris (’15) led the team in assists with two, while Will Perry (’16) had 10 saves.
“We came out firing on all cylinders,” Johnson said. “We executed on both sides of the field and as a result we got the W.”
Most recently, the team traveled four hours to Blue Ridge School to face-off against the Barons (3-4). The Raiders started off shaky being out-scored by six at half, but began a rally in the second half, out-scoring the Barons 6-3. Eventually, time ran out before the Raiders could cap off their run, and the team lost, 10-7.
“We were low on energy,” Harris said. “We should have had more energy, and that includes myself.”
Up next, the team will take a long road trip to battle Virginia Episcopal School (2-1). Belderes sees a key area in which the team needs to improve.
“We need to improve our ball possession,” he said. “We need to value the ball.”
By Dre Colston
Sarah Maurer (‘16), a versatile player who loves to play in the goal, also excels in the field as the team’s leading scorer with 18 goals.
Ever since Maurer lived in the state of Utah she has always had a feel for playing goalie. Maurer plays for the Roanoke Star Soccer Club outside of playing for the school team. The unique thing about Maurer is that she has the ability to play in the goal for Roanoke Star Soccer Club and play on the field for the Raiders. That is especially useful because the Raiders can put another great goalie, Katie Sayers (‘15), in front of the net.
“I have always played in goal first because I liked it, but when I started travel soccer in Utah my coach put me there because I was the best at it,” Maurer said. “Ever since then I’ve just been the best on the team and that’s where I played.”
Some would think that playing as a goalie might be very boring, but it requires quite a bit of focus at all times than one might expect.
“The hardest part about being in goal is being mentally engaged at all times because in some games you won’t have to do anything, and then there might be a breakaway and you have to make a save,” Maurer said. “There is a lot of pressure to be perfect when you are in goal you can’t afford to make mistakes.”
By playing on the field and in goal, Maurer is torn between which position she enjoys most but is sided more towards playing in the goal.
“I like both, but I enjoy being in goal for big games because it comes down to like one or two saves,” Maurer said. “When you are in goal, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. In the field it’s totally different because I have help from my teammates.”
While she has a high motor on the field and plays with hard-nosed intensity, maintaining that intensity off the field has been a challenge.
“The hardest part for me about playing in the field is getting in shape,” Maurer said, “And not to be so hard on myself when I don’t do as well, because it’s not the primary position that I play.”
“She’s always been really good at soccer and been able to play wherever she’s needed even though her natural position is goalkeeper,” said Mary Kate Graeff (‘16), who has been Maurer’s teammate for three years for the school’s team and seven years for Roanoke Star. “It’s nice to play with someone who is so well-rounded.”
“She’s scored many goals for us this season, she probably strikes as well as any female in the state,” Head Coach James Brown, “She’s one of the best athletes on the team, I can play her up top, in the middle and even in the goal if there’s a problem.”
The team has a record of 11-1 with an upcoming game against Eastern Mennonite on April 21.
The 2-1 golf team has renewed hopes for the season, partially due to the emergence of two of their youngest players.
This year, eight golfers play on the school team and have achieved several impressive victories in the season so far. In a match against Timberlake Christian on April 9, for example, the Raiders scored 189 strokes, over 20 strokes below Timberlake’s 218.
Richard Cook has been coaching golf for seven years, and said this season is both similar and distinct from previous ones.
“This year is similar in that we have one very good player, a few players with some experience, and then several players who are learning the game,” he said. “I am optimistic regarding our performance this year. If Philip, Bennett, Sterling or all three step up and shoot in the high 40s, we will be good. I think our greatest challenge this year is to shoot under 225 in the VIC Tournament; that would be great if we could pull that off.”
Cook thinks that the most promising player this year is either Nathan Seidel (‘18) or Bruce Ferrell (‘17). Farrell’s average score this year for nine holes is 56, while Seidel’s average is 46.
“Bruce and Nathan have a lot of potential,” Cook said, “but both need to improve over the next few weeks.”
Ty Olinger (‘16) is the team’s top player. Having played the game for over 15 years, Olinger is an extremely experienced player, and also competes in golf tournaments outside of school. His average score for the school team this year playing nine holes is 39.
“I’ve been playing golf ever since I could swing a club so since I was 3 or 4,” Olinger said. “My favorite part about golf is just being on the golf course. It’s always relaxing and it’s a nice getaway.”
Olinger said he was looking forward to the rest of the season and felt optimistic about the team’s prospects.
“I’m really excited about this year,” Olinger said. “Our team is definitely looking a lot better and I think we will compete well with everyone this year.”
Coming off of one of the best years for the program, the defending Blue Ridge Conference champion girls’ tennis team lost two key seniors to graduation and has struggled to compete as well.
the Willis Hall Herald
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