Yorktown entered the season needing to replace its entire infield, a quartet who accounted for 18 home runs and a wealth of leadership last season. That, the Patriots had planned for.
What they had no way to plan for was junior Daniel Overbeek — their starting third baseman, No. 2 pitcher and a middle-of-the-order hitter — dislocating his ankle playing basketball in gym class on the second day of tryouts.
So Coach Mike Ruck has made some adjustments, and after a season-opening loss to No. 9 Oakton, Yorktown (9-1, 5-0 in the Virginia AAA National District) has won nine consecutive games.
“It’s been a sharp learning curve,” said Ruck, whose team has ridden the heart of its order, a starting infield that has committed only three errors and the pitching of juniors John Yoest (3-0) and Matt Lowen (4-1) and freshman reliever Graham Fineman (three saves).
Catcher Red Dowdell, who will play next season at Virginia Military Institute, is hitting .500 with three homers. Senior shortstop Will Young is batting over .500. Junior third baseman Ben Criswell has not committed an error. Sophomore second baseman Bennett Nagurka is hitting over .400 from the ninth spot in the order. Senior center fielder Daniel Whitaker is hitting over. 550 and has 18 RBI.
The Patriots, who have won at least 14 games in each of the past five seasons, also have three grand slams. Sophomore Teddy Schroeder hit one Tuesday against Washington-Lee and the Patriots socked two in the same inning against Wakefield in late March.
Yoest will get the start at 6 p.m. Friday at Hayfield (5-4, 4-1) in a game pitting perhaps the top two teams in the National. Hayfield last season ended Yorktown’s string of four consecutive district championships with a 17-16 victory — the same score by which Yorktown beat Hayfield in football during that same school year.
Stuart (6-4, 4-1) also is in contention in the National. The Raiders’ loss was to Hayfield.