Colonial Forge had to replace all but one starter, find a new No. 2 pitcher after the player projected to fill that role hurt his arm, and entered the season as maybe a consensus third-place pick in the Virginia AAA Commonwealth District.
So how have the Eagles taken a two-game lead in the district, with four of their remaining five games against the bottom four teams in the league?
“You just don’t all of a sudden lose that many guys and not miss a beat,” Coach Shawn Szakelyhidi said. “So it’s been baby steps every day trying to get these guys up to speed. We felt confident we had quality kids to step in. It was their turn.”
When it comes to pitching, many Eagles have taken a turn — 11 of the 19 guys on the roster have manned the mound, the most depth Colonial Forge has boasted at that position since Szakelyhidi started the program 13 years ago.
And that is with only an inning or so from junior David Edwards, the projected No. 2 starter, who has been hampered by tendinitis.
Colonial Forge (12-3, 10-1) padded its district lead with a 10-3 win Wednesday night over second-place Mountain View (10-5, 8-3). Marshall-bound pitcher Chase Boster allowed three hits in five innings, struck out six and walked none, and had three hits of his own.
Boster entered the season more proven than most of the other starting Eagles, some of whom played on a 16-3 junior varsity team last year. Senior Carter Siweck (Chowan), new to the program last year after moving in from Missouri, is 4-0 and has not allowed an earned run. Nor has junior Colton Steber, who has five saves.
On Friday, the Eagles will host Riverbend, the only district team to beat them this season, a 4-0 defeat March 20 in which they struck out 12 times.
Colonial Forge won 12 consecutive games last year, nabbed the regular season Commonwealth title and returned to the Virginia AAA Northwest Region tournament for the first time since back-to-back region titles in 2007 and 2008. The Eagles lost to Battlefield last year in the region semifinals and said goodbye to nine seniors (and later to a player who moved away).
But Colonial Forge has weathered such turnover before. It lost 10 players off the 2007 team that won the region title. The next season, the Eagles became the first Stafford County team to reach the Virginia AAA baseball final.