The good news for W.T. Woodson, which last season reached the state baseball tournament for the first time since 1996, is that it has four pitchers who will play in college next season.
The bad news for the Cavaliers is that they might need every one of them to succeed this spring. In a preseason Northern Region coaches’ poll, the top four teams all hailed from the Virginia AAA Patriot District — Lake Braddock, South County, West Springfield and Woodson. And the Cavaliers last year lost to graduation six starters who helped the team score nine or more runs in 15 games during a 19-8 season.
“They can’t strike everybody out,” Woodson Coach Chris Warren said of his enviable staff. “You’ve got to make plays behind them. So that puts the emphasis on defense, and that’s something we’ve tried to spend a lot of time on.”
Pitchers Joe and John McGillicuddy have both committed to Marshall University. Bryson Hough is bound for Bucknell and Tyler Wislocki will play at Longwood. All got postseason experience last year, when Woodson reached the state quarterfinals and lost 5-4 at Woodbridge in eight innings.
Woodson was the fourth seed out of the Patriot in last year’s region tournament but sat down Concorde District champion Westfield, Liberty District regular season champion McLean and Patriot tournament champion Lake Braddock to reach its first region final in 14 years.
Woodson has won its first two games this season, beating Robinson, 9-2, and Fairfax, 6-5. Hough and Joe McGillicuddy combined for a three-hitter with nine strikeouts against Robinson. Senior second baseman Matt Powell went 3 for 3 with three doubles.
In the game against Fairfax, the Rebels scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-2 lead but Woodson scored four in the bottom of that inning, the eventual winning run crossing on a two-run double by Joe McGillicuddy. John McGillicuddy went the first four innings and junior Brant Thomas pitched the last two and picked up the win. Senior outfielder David Rozner went 3 for 4.
The Cavaliers play their Patriot opener at home Friday against T.C. Williams. Next week they will play two of the district front-runners — defending state champion West Springfield and South County.
The past two years, the region championship has pitted Patriot teams, and Patriot teams have won the past three region titles, including back-to-back crowns for West Springfield.
“We just have to go into the season knowing it’s going to be a grind and that we’re going to be tested,” Warren said. “If you can get through it, you’re probably going to be better having gotten through it. That’s really the only approach.”