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.”