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Witt helps VCU win 14 straight baseball games

By Staff | Apr 13, 2018

In the Atlantic 10 Conference, Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University is one of the southernmost teams. With its location a help in recruiting against schools like St. Louis, St. Bonaventure, LaSalle and Dayton, the Rams have consistently been one of the league’s baseball best.

After being swept in three games against non-conference rival Liberty to begin its season, VCU and sophomore shortstop Paul Witt had a 14-game winning streak that sent the season in the right direction.

Counting games through April 8, the Rams were 21-11 overall and Witt was hitting .336 and batting fourth in the everyday lineup. He had started all 32 games this season.

Early on in the frost-laden campaign, VCU defeated West Virginia, by scores of 6-2 and 8-5, in a pair of non-conference games played under baseball conditions in South Carolina. Witt, who hovered near the .400 mark for much of the 2017 season, during which he usually was placed second or third in the batting order, finished the year as the team’s second-leading hitter at .366. His average was one of the leading freshmen averages in the country.

Virginia Commonwealth was the Atlantic 10’s regular season winner last season, but lost in the league’s tournament championship game to Davidson and wasn’t selected among the 64 teams that advanced to the NCAA national tournament.

This season, Witt has struck out only 11 times in 137 plate appearances and has committed only five errors from his shortstop position, while posting a .948 fielding percentage. Witt’s other offensive numbers show him with two home runs, five doubles, 23 RBIs, 10 walks, six times hit by pitches and five stolen bases in eight attempts.

In 2016, Witt was Jefferson High’s shortstop when the Cougars won their way to another Class AAA state championship. He was selected as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, and was named a first-team player on the big-school All-State team. Witt’s senior year at Jefferson saw him bat .405 from his shortstop position.

It appears once more that VCU will have to win the Atlantic 10 tournament in order to be called to the NCAA tournament. The Rams will probably be embroiled with St. Louis and Davidson – with darkhorse Rhode Island involved – for regular-season laurels when the conference schedule closes. The Atlantic 10 tournament takes place in St. Louis. Witt spent the summer of 2017 playing in Richmond.

Virginia Commonwealth will play about 56 games in its regular season, and Witt’s name will be in the starting lineup in every one of them.