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Posted March 13, 2014 | comments Leave a comment

Keeler: Spring sports creates hope

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Tommy Keeler

Anticipation is high.

We've gone from the sunny, almost-shorts weather at the start of the week, to more cold damp weather by the end if it. That means spring must be around the corner.

That also means the spring high school sports season is also upon us. The new season begins on Monday, and holds just as much promise as the fall and winter seasons did.
One of the best and worst parts of the spring season is there are so many sports. It's definitely the busiest season, which is good and bad.

Having variety in the sports you can watch is great for us as reporters, but there's definitely not any dull moments -- well, unless it rains and everything gets washed out (which happens all too often).

It's nice to get outside, take in the fresh air, work on the tan, and watch good competitive high school events.

I think many of our teams will have really strong seasons. Of course, it all starts with baseball where Sherando is the defending state champion. That was under the old classification system, and certainly the Warriors lost some key pieces. However, they still return a lot and with coach Pepper Martin at the helm I think they will make a run at defending their crown.

There are plenty of other baseball teams that should have strong years. Strasburg is always tough, and Central had one of its best years last year until the final stretch of the regular season. Stonewall Jackson and Warren County each have a lot back, and Skyline under new coach Jay Barnes should have a solid returning nucleus.

It should be a good year for area softball teams as well. Skyline lost a few key players for the second straight year, but still has plenty of returning players to keep things going strong. Warren County also has some core players back, and Central also returns a lot from a regional team. Strasburg had some bright moments last season with a young squad, and Sherando also returns a lot from a pretty successful squad.

Stonewall Jackson was the top of the class when it came to boys soccer last year and still has some key cogs back. The Generals went to the Group A, Division 2 state final last season, and it will certainly be a little harder to duplicate that this season but with coach Caleb Golladay and some veteran players there's no doubt they have a chance to do it.

The rest of the boys soccer teams also have reason for optimism. Sherando returns plenty from a regional team, and Warren County had one of its best seasons in program history. Can they build on that success this season? Central hit its stride at the end of last season, and should have another good year this season.

We should also have some successful girls soccer teams. Sherando returns a lot from its regional team from last season. Stonewall Jackson has had a really strong team for the past few years, and did lose a lot, but the winning tradition has been formed. Central and Warren County are always respectable in soccer, and Strasburg has been making strides the last few seasons.

In boys tennis, I think Sherando will once again battle for that second spot in the Northwestern District, behind perennial power Handley. Central should also have another strong season, and for once they won't have to worry about powerhouse George Mason when the Falcons get to the postseason.

Skyline's girls tennis team lost all of its top six from last year's regional squad, but the Hawks have had a strong program for a few years so I'm sure they will bounce back well. Central will be strong at the top, and should still put together a nice year. Much like the boys team, the Falcons won't have to deal with George Mason in the postseason. Warren County coach Jeannie Tallent always has her team prepared and gets the most out of her players, so I'm sure they will have another solid season.

In boys track and field, Central will once again be strong. Senior Justin Bauserman will try to add to his two individual state titles, but this time they will be at the Class 3A level. As a team, the Falcons have plenty of pieces and certainly could be a factor at the state level. Warren County had a solid team last season, and although they lost some key athletes, should still be a factor in the postseason. Sherando always seems to have a decent team, and even though they lost some really talented athletes, should still be able to make some noise this season. Strasburg should also have a solid season this year, led by some strong distance runners.

Sherando's girls track and field team has plenty of reasons to be feeling good about the upcoming season. The Warriors had a young, but talented squad last season and should be even better this year. They have strong performers in many different events, which is key in the bigger track meets. Strasburg always seems to have some top throwers, and even though defending state champion Rachel Speaker graduated last year, I expect them to have several more waiting in the wings to fill her spot. The Rams also have a strong distance running squad, and overall should have another nice year as a team.

I'm sure there will be teams who don't do as well as they would like or expect, and there will be teams that surprise everyone, including themselves. That's part of what makes the high school sports season so much fun -- you never know what's going to happen next and anything is possible.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd


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