Strasburg, Waynesboro pace Valley Baseball League
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The 11-team Valley Baseball League in Virginia has cruised through its first month of collegiate summer play with Strasburg and Waynesboro, establishing themselves as the leaders of their respective North Division and South Division of the circuit.
Up and down I-81 this summer, college baseball players from the NCAA’s three divisions, as well as the NAIA, junior colleges and Christian colleges are stationed at sites they hope will help them hone their skills and impress their college coaches.
All the league’s players have some remaining collegiate eligibility.
Strasburg’s Express has the league’s best record going into games to be played last Saturday. The Express had an 18-6 record and had a firm 4.5 game lead over second-place Woodstock, which was 13-12.
The bunched-up scrap for second place in back of the Express showed third-place New Market with a 12-16 record, Winchester at 11-15 and the Purcellville Cannons at 11-16. Last-place Front Royal had all but lost enough times to play its way out of the playoff race, where the top four teams in the North Division advance to the postseason.
In the five-team South Division, it was the Waynesboro Generals rolling along with an 18-8 mark. Charlottesville remained in second place with its 16-10 record.
Scrambling for the other two playoff berths in the South Division were Covington (13-12), Harrisonburg (12-13) and the Staunton Braves at 12-14.
Purcellville had played in Charles Town for several seasons, before moving to Purcellville. Neither the Purcellville franchise nor the one once playing at Sager Field in Shenandoah Junction has ever won the league’s championship in either of those two locations.
The league’s regular season is completed in late July before a round of playoffs that end in early August decide the winner of the circuit’s championship.
There are no players from WVU still performing this summer in the Valley Baseball League, but Eric O’Brien a 2019-20 senior-to-be at Shepherd, is a right-handed pitcher for the Staunton Braves.
O’Brien, from Henrico, Va., has appeared in seven games with one start for the Braves. In his 10 innings of Valley League pitching, O’Brien has allowed 22 hits and struggled with an 8.10 ERA.
At Shepherd this past season, O’Brien appeared in 11 games with four starts. He had two wins, a loss and a save. In his 27.2 innings of work, he yielded 35 hits, 20 runs, 14 earned runs, 17 walks and had 23 strikeouts. His ERA for the 2019 season was 4.55.
Strasburg and Waynesboro lead their respective divisions, but the Valley League hands out no laurels for regular season records — relying on the postseason to decide its team champions for any given Virginia summer.