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Cannons to chase Valley League playoffs in Purcellville

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

The Charles Town Cannons are no more.

After three short summer seasons in Shenandoah Junction at Sager Field, the Valley League baseball team of college players has moved to Purcellville where it will be headquartered at historic Firemen’s Field for the 2016 season.

It was only a short while back in 2013 that the Luray Wranglers moved to Jefferson County and became the only franchise in league history to have a West Virginia address. Ownership of the newly-named Cannons remained in Virginia, but the first 44-game schedule was played on the campus of Jefferson High School at its Sager Field.

The Cannons lasted three seasons as “Charles Town” with their ever-changing rosters of college players.

Host families were recruited to house the players who came from mostly NCAA Division II and III schools as well the NAIA and junior college ranks. The cost of tickets was reasonable for all age brackets, but the team never could attract many customers with its three-year array of players from all sections of the country.

There were never any players from West Virginia University or Marshall and but a very few from Shepherd or in-state schools. A player from North Hagerstown High was on the 2014 team, but there weren’t any college athletes who had prepped at either Jefferson High or Washington High.

The yearly rosters were ever-fluctuating with some of the players on the pre-season rosters never reporting and many others staying for just a few weeks and then leaving, only to be replaced by those who also didn’t remain until the seasons were concluded in late July or early August.

In 2015, the Cannons failed to make the eight-team playoffs after reaching the playoff finals in 2014 where they lost in the final game of the championship round.

From the outset in 2013, attendance was small and never really increased through the short three-year stand that ended in the last days of July, 2015.

Usually the Cannons had listed on their pre-season rosters at least a scattered few players from NCAA Division I colleges that qualified for the 64-school tournaments that led to the crowning of a national champion at the College World Series in Omaha. Most of those players never reported to the Cannons because their schools were embroiled in the national playoffs, and when those games were over still never came to Jefferson County.

Another small group of prospective players were members of schools that reached the NCAA Division II national playoffs and they likewise mostly didn’t report to the Cannons in 2013, 2014 or 2015.

The Valley League used wood bats and all the players had further collegiate eligibility when they joined teams for the basic two-month seasons.

The league also lost the Aldie (Virginia) franchise, which played its home schedule at John Champe High School. Charlottesville was a first-year franchise in 2015, giving the league 12 teams this past summer.

Firemen’s Field has hosted night games since the 1950’s and is used by Jr. American Legion youth teams as well as the Loudoun Raiders of an adult league. High school games are also staged at the facility that even saw the Charles Town American Legion Post 71 adult team play there in the 1950’s through 1961.

The ever-changing Cannons will now chase the elusive playoffs from Purcellville next season, giving the league a complete array of Virginia-only teams again.