When the American Legion baseball season started, Stephen Shipe wasn't assured of a spot in the starting rotation for the Warrenton Post 72 team. As it turned out, he has been the team's most reliable -- and surprising -- pitcher.

The rising senior at Liberty High School has anchored a rotation that has helped Warrenton to its 7-3 record through Monday and first place in the 16th District's Division C.

Shipe's record is 2-2, but he has thrown three complete games and went seven innings in his other start. On June 26, he held Purcellville Post 293 to one hit, which was an infield hit deep in the hole at shortstop.

"He's almost at the point where you know when he goes out there, you know you're going to get a good performance from him," Warrenton Coach Chip Childs said. "That's what I look for. . . . The games that we've lost are games we've been in."

Shipe, who describes his windup as "slow, long and lanky," is 6 feet 2 and still growing. He credits his height for his velocity, which usually averages 82 to 83 miles per hour. Speed never has been Shipe's problem on the mound; it was his control about which Childs worried at the start of the summer.

But by locating his pitches well, Shipe has improved that aspect of his game.

"My catcher [Tye Wintersteen, also of Liberty] says it has something to do with the way I throw: It's kind of wild; my motion's kind of different. I power out of [my windup] with my legs, and my arm just whips through. I try to use my whole body.

"I feel a lot better over the summer," Shipe added. "I like legion ball a lot better than [playing for] Liberty. It's more comfortable. I think the atmosphere of legion is a lot different. It's a lot more laid-back."

Purcellville Loses Anderson, for Starters

Purcellville Post 293 has lost perhaps its best all-around player, Tim Anderson of Loudoun County High School, for the rest of the summer with biceps tendinitis in his left throwing arm. Anderson was supposed to provide Purcellville with a good control pitcher who could pick up the team with his bat, but he will not play for the rest of the summer as a precautionary measure. He will be a senior at Loudoun County when school begins this year.

The news doesn't get much better for Purcellville. Pitcher/second baseman Dave Groy, another Loudoun County product, has a fractured thumb and is wearing a brace on his hand. And with Babe Ruth tournament play getting started soon, the team will lose 11 of its players at different times because of scheduling conflicts.

Purcellville Coach Larry Burk, in his first year coaching legion ball, sent letters to county and Babe Ruth officials two months ago asking that Babe Ruth and legion games not be scheduled on the same days, and he attached his legion team's schedule. But he said he never heard back from officials, and when the Babe Ruth schedules were released, numerous games conflicted.

CAPTION: (This graphic was not available) American Legion District 16 Standings

CAPTION: With biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm, Loudoun County High rising senior Tim Anderson will sit out the rest of the summer season as a precaution.