Valley Baseball League notebook: Power igniting Rebels this season

New Market's John Cable congratulates Brady Lloyd, right, after Lloyd scored after tagging up on a fly ball during fifth-inning action Wednesday night at First Bank Park in Strasburg. The Rebels lead the league in many offensive categories this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sometimes the switch from aluminum to wooden bats can be a big adjustment for players in the Valley Baseball League. That has not been the case for the New Market Rebels this season.

The Rebels lead the league with 15 homers. New Market manager Zac Cole said that he knew his team could hit for power, and so far it’s worked out well for them.

“That’s part of our approach,” Cole said of the home runs. “We’re trying to go up there and we’re trying to hit balls hard. And when our guys get in the air they’re going to go.”

Not only does New Market lead the league in home runs, but also in batting average (.278), total hits (169), doubles (38), runs scored (105) and RBI’s (91).

The Rebels have five players hitting at least .328 this season. Eight different players have hit at least one homer.

Cole said that the players feed off of each other’s success at the plate.

“I think when you see a guy make a game-defining effort, then it kind of raises your level of play,” Cole said. “It makes you want to do the same thing.”

Bandit Thievery: Woodstock’s offense is one of the best in the league. The River Bandits are scoring in many different ways, including with power. However, another way has been their ability to steal bases. They are second in the league with 47 stolen bases.

The River Bandits lead the league in stolen bases, and manager Kyle Ward said that utilizing the team speed has been part of their success.

“That was a goal that I set out for this team, when I was putting it together,” Ward said. “I knew we were fast. We like to run and we’re going to try to put pressure on you as much as possible.”

That speed has helped the team score plenty of runs this season. The biggest problem for the River Bandits has been the pitching, but Ward said he believes that will come around.

“Late in games we haven’t been able to close things out on the mound and it’s been hurting us,” Ward said of his pitching. “… It’s just some guys figuring out some roles. They keep working hard. I’m not worried about it.”

With the way the offense has been playing, the River Bandits will be a factor if they can get their pitching to improve.

“Offensively, I think we give one of the more exciting shows in the valley, night-in, night-out, with our speed and our gap-to-gap power,” Ward said.

Battling adversity: The Strasburg Express started off strong this season, winning nine of their first 10 games. Since then they have cooled off a little, but manager Butch Barnes said he’s not worried about his team at all.

He said this week was a bit of a challenge for his players, because they are also running a camp for kids.

“This is a rough week for us, because we got camp going on. We got our work that we’re trying to get done,” Barnes said. “So it’s going to be a long week, and it’s going to test us.”

Strasburg is still 11-5 and is second in runs scored (100) and RBIs (83). Strasburg is also fourth in the league in team ERA (3.89).

The Express are still in first place in the North Division by two games over Front Royal, and Barnes said he’s not worried about whether they are in first place or not.

“Right now we’re at the top of the standings in the North, and as long as we can continue to play fairly good baseball we have talent enough to stay near the top,” Barnes said. “… It’s hard to hold that (top spot) all year long. We’re at a good point with our staff right now. We’re finally getting things ironed out with our starting pitching and our bullpen.”

Top-notch pitching: The Front Royal Cardinals have been winning games with their pitching this season.

The Cardinals lead the league in ERA (2.46). Waynesboro is second at 2.79, and every other team has at least a 3.00 ERA. As a team the Cardinals have also struck out 151 batters, which leads the league.

Kristopher Van Camp has a 0.65 ERA in three starts for the Cardinals. Erne Valdes has a 1.01 ERA with three starts. Valdes has struck out 21.

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