Senior quartet finishes strong

Strasburg's Garrett Richards (9) congratulates teammate Ryan Smoot after Smoot scored the Rams' first run in the fifth inning of the Group 2A baseball state semifinal game against Lebanon on Friday in Radford. Brad Fauber/Daily

RADFORD — Four years ago on Strasburg’s JV baseball team, the Rams had a double-digit number of eighth graders. By the time that group were seniors there were only four that remained on Strasburg’s varsity squad, but Garrett Richards, Mark Smoot, Ryan Smoot and Noah St. Clair have been a special group for the Strasburg baseball program.

“We’ve played with some guys in our grade that just have kind of dropped out of baseball, baseball wasn’t their thing,” Ryan Smoot said. “The four of us that are left, I think are true baseball guys. We really enjoy the game and not just enjoy playing the game, but enjoy watching it and enjoy the grind of getting better.”

The four have been a part of something pretty special the last few years, having advanced to the state tournament back-to-back years.

Even though it came to an end with an 8-2 loss to Lebanon on Friday at Radford University, the group had a lot to be proud of.

“It was a pretty good, fun run,” St. Clair said. “We came out here, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but we still came back to states and to be able to come back here — it was a fun ride.”

Mark and Ryan are twin brothers, and Ryan said that St. Clair and Richards are their best friends, which makes their senior bond even more special.

“We’ve shared some great memories on the field, not just in baseball but in other sports,” Ryan Smoot said. “But more importantly I think we’ve enjoyed our time off the field together. On the field it ends today and off the field most of it is going to end in a few months.

“We’ve been best friends forever.”

Even though the four seniors will be graduating on Saturday night, it certainly won’t be the end of their friendship or their bond. All four plan to play baseball next year in college.

Ryan Smoot will play at Virginia Military Institute, while his brother will play at Ferrum College. Richards and St. Clair will play together at Danville Community College. St. Clair said that Ferrum’s JV team and Danville usually play each other during the season so they could see each other again.

“That will be cool — to go back out there and face your old teammate from back in the day,” St. Clair said.

With a young squad this season, the seniors have had to take on a strong leadership role and coach Jeff Smoot said they handled it very well.

“We had some younger ones that we kind of needed to bring along, and I think some of those younger guys hitched themselves to our seniors’ coattails,” Jeff Smoot said. “And they kind of drug them along and taught them how to play, and how to play in our program and what Ram baseball is all about.

“So, that’s a pretty good core of kids.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com