Former Jefferson shortstop Witt starts for VCU
The majority of top-flight college baseball teams began their seasons last weekend.
The ones from cold-weather, long-winter locations traveled south and opened in places where their opponents had been practicing outside since early January.
Virginia Commonwealth University is located in Richmond and the Rams went to Tallahassee, Florida to begin play at Dick Howser Stadium against Florida State.
Virginia Commonwealth started freshman Paul Witt at shortstop against the experienced Seminoles, a team with their top three starting pitchers returning for the 2017 season.
Witt was a four-year starter at Jefferson High, playing on state championship teams in his junior and senior years. He was the state of West Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year last season.
Witt was in the starting lineup for all three games against the Seminoles. He was playing shortstop and batting ninth in the Rams’ order.
In the season opener on Friday, Feb. 17, Witt went 3-for-3 as the Rams defeated Florida State, 3-0, on a combined one-hitter by their four pitchers.
The afternoon crowd of 5,071 saw Witt double, score two runs, drive in a run and get hit by a pitch. In the field, he made two errors, but the Seminoles could not score.
The next afternoon before a crowd of 4,520, Florida State evened the series with a 12-3 win over the Rams. Witt was in the starting lineup once again, batting ninth and playing shortstop. His second game didn’t produce the same offensive fireworks as the first when he was 0-for-3 and struck out twice.
In the rubber game of the three-game set, Witt was in his now familiar ninth spot in the batting order and again playing shortstop.
Florida State won comfortably, 11-3, but Witt was 1-for-2 and drove in a run. He committed his third error of the infant season.
After his first three college games, Witt is 4-for-8 and batting .500.
The Rams won enough in 2016 to be invited to the 64-team NCAA Tourn-ament. They are one of the favorites to do well in conference play again this season.
Witt has two sisters — Alexandra and Jenna — who play softball for Shepherd.
Virginia Commonwealth has a 50-plus game regular season schedule — a crowded late February, March, April and May stretch of playing dates, but that’s much the same as Jefferson’s 40-game schedule was last season.
Playing one of the better teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference in a crowd-heavy setting where the baseball facility is plush with modern amenities had to be a positive experience for the 18-year-old, first-year college player . . . and he went 3-for-3 in his first college game.