By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- When it comes to handling pressure, it seems like Reid Entsminger has ice water running through his veins, but maybe it's actually just the water and sand from a beach.
The Sherando standout enjoys pressure and understands the importance of relaxing in the pressure situation, so he just likes to let his mind go to a relaxing place.
"I went to Antigua back in February. So when I'm up to bat I was just thinking of the beach I was on," Entsminger said. "I was just like, 'Antigua, Antigua, Antigua,' that's all I think about and then I just stroke the ball as nice as can be. It would calm me down and I would not even think about the pressure. I wouldn't hear anyone screaming in the back. I wouldn't even see the pitcher. I would slow the ball down in my head, like the ball is coming so slow and like a big beach ball, and then I would just hit it."
It was that ability to handle pressure in big situations that helped Entsminger deliver the walk-off triple in a 2-1 win over Louisa in the regional semifinals.
"They were throwing really slow, so I knew I just had to be patient," Entsminger said of the at-bat. "In the bottom of the sixth I knew that if I got up to bat the next inning the game was over, because I could feel it. I got up there and I was nice and relaxed, and I just started thinking about something else not baseball related. I just did my job and we won the game, took us to the state tournament again."
Certainly, Entsminger's season was sunny and bright. He capped off his high school career by leading the football team to the Group 4A state championship game and then led the baseball team, which won the state title in his junior season, back to the Group 4A state semifinals.
His strong season in both sports helped Entsminger become The Northern Virginia Daily's 2013-14 Male Athlete of the Year.
"It means everything. It's all a guy could ask for, playing two sports and going in both to the state tournament," Entsminger said of his senior season. "Not the outcome you wanted, but you got there -- you can say that. It was a fun year. I wouldn't change it for anything."
In football, Entsminger led the Warriors to a 13-2 record, including 12 straight wins until a loss in the state final to Dinwiddie.
The quarterback threw for 2,125 yards and ran for another 873 yards. He was also solid for the Warriors at defensive back, a position he will play at Lamar University next year.
Entsminger said his favorite memory was sharing the moment with his best friend fullback/linebacker George Aston after the Warriors advanced to the state championship.
"George and I just hugged. We were like, 'Dude we did it, four years of hard work and we made it to the state championship,'" Entsminger said. "It was kind of like the Friday Night Lights movie where we were just going to the state championship game. It was awesome. Me and him both love football so much and it just meant a lot. It meant a lot for the team, and us, and just coach [Bill] Hall to take him back [to the state final]."
Sherando won the state title in baseball last year, but lost a lot from that team. Entsminger said this year's squad definitely surprised him.
Entsminger suffered from tendonitis in the elbow early in the season, which set him back a little. However, once the postseason arrived Entsminger was ready to step up a notch and so were his teammates.
"We played together as a team towards the end," Entsminger said. "We were just tearing it up at the end. We were on a roll, and we just beat teams we weren't supposed to beat."
The Warriors went 16-8 and fell in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Hanover.
Sherando baseball coach Pepper Martin said Entsminger has a natural ability to lead.
"He's a gifted leader in that he can lead a team with positive words of encouragement, and also he's a leader by example," Martin said.
Entsminger finished with a .408 batting average, nine doubles, three triples, four home runs, 24 RBIs and 26 runs scored in his baseball season.
He was also named the Virginia Group 4A Male Athlete of the Year in April.
Entsminger said he's learned a lot through sports this past year, including that winning isn't everything.
"I learned that it's not about winning or losing, it's just the people you meet, the relationships you build. Because without those winning is nothing," Entsminger said. "You can win games, but without the people you surround yourself with, your teammates, it means a lot more when you win it with them, winning with your brothers instead of just you personally winning it individually. ...That's what I've learned from this past year, football season and this baseball and the one before -- the state championship run. Without the teammates and the bond we had, that state championship would mean nothing to me. That's what I've learned and it's one of things that I can carry over into life about the relationships you build.
"That's what I'm going to live by now."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd