West Point next post for Gatorade player of the year
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The picturesque Hudson River below its cliffs. In the fall, pastel-colored leaves rising on the slopes above its campus. History behind every tree and campus symbol.
It’s West Point in New York state, home of the United States Military Academy or Army West Point as the revered school calls its athletic teams.
Army West Point is a member of the Patriot League in baseball. And part of its legacy will now include a 2021 conference championship and admission into the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament field.
The Black Knights of the Hudson scrambled past Lehigh and Lafayette to win the league’s baseball tournament and earn the right to enter the NCAA event that just ended in Omaha with Mississippi State winning its first-ever national championship in any sport.
If everything goes according to plan, the 2022 Cadets will have infielder Cullen Horowicz on their roster.
Horowicz played as a three-year starter at Jefferson High — missing a fourth year because of the COVID-19 virus that obliterated any possible 2020 campaign.
Because of his eye-opening 2021 hitting statistics, Horowicz was just voted as the state of West Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
He had a state-leading 16 home runs, batted .429 in the regular season, drove in 39 runs in 28 games, had a .556 on-base percentage and a 1.095 slugging percentage.
Because of his power displays, Horowicz was often walked intentionally, even with nobody on base in several games.
If Army can best Holy Cross, Bucknell, Navy, Lafayette and Lehigh from the six-school Patriot League, it would be back in the NCAA tournament in Horowicz’s first year on its pristine campus.
Horowicz was also one of three Jefferson High players named to the state’s sportswriters Class AAA all-state first team.
Pitcher-infielder Riley Vadasz, who authored a 6-1 pre-Regional record with a 2.28 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 43 innings, was also a first-team selection.
Pitcher-infielder-outfielder Zac Rose, a senior like Vadasz and Horowicz, gained a first-team place as well. Rose had a 5-1 pre-Regional pitching record in 10 appearances on the mound. He fanned 48 in 31.2 innings.
Rose also batted .368, drove in 28 runs, had a .480 on-base percentage and a .578 slugging percentage.
Joining Vadasz, Horowicz and Rose on the first-team were pitchers Quincey Thornton (Morgantown) Ismael Borrero (Hurricane) and Logan Lingenfelter (Cabell Midland) as well as catcher Trent Short (St. Albans), infielders Ryan Goff (Bridgeport), Drew Whitman (St. Albans), and Cam Cole (Bridgeport). The outfielders selected to the first-team were Nate Paulsen (Bridgeport), Ethan Spolavich (Hurricane) and Blake Hartman (Musselman). Named as utility players were Joel Gardner (Hurricane), Michael Bittinger (Wheeling Park), Tyson Burke (St. Albans) and Grant Hussey (Parkersburg South).
Jefferson High catcher Connor Bailey, a .352 hitter with 32 runs scored and 13 stolen bases, was accorded “honorable mention” status, but no other Cougars were named to the second-team or given “honorable mention” notice.
Jefferson and its list of first-team all-staters and Bailey completed a 27-4 season with a conference title, along with Sectional and Regional championships before falling, 7-5, to eventual state champion Bridgeport in the Class AAA version of the 2021 state tournament.