October 11 - Mark Rueffert informed Herndon's players yesterday of his intention to step down after two seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, the magazine learned this morning.
A 1997 graduate of Herndon, Rueffert was an All-Met and all-state catcher before going onto to be a four-year starter at the University of Virginia and play professionally for a season in the Detroit Tigers system. He coached with the Hornets for 13 seasons, the first 11 as the head coach of the junior varsity team.
“It was a tough decision, I enjoy coaching at Herndon,” said Rueffert, who cited personal reasons as the determining factor in him stepping down. “You have to have priorities, and unfortunately I had sacrifice something in my life.”
The Hornets were 15-20 in Rueffert’s two seasons, falling in the 6A Conference 5 quarterfinals each year. They had their season end with an 8-0 loss to Robinson the conference tournament this past spring.
Herndon’s top returner will be senior outfielder and left-handed pitcher Jabbari Smith, who was a first-team all-conference selection in the spring. The team graduated first-team all-conference infielders Ryan Alcorn and Jack Curcio, along with two second-team all-conference picks in catcher Alex Hurd and ace Austin Boynton. Also gone is Antonio Menendez, who would have been one of the area’s top pitchers last spring but missed the season with an arm injury.
The Hornets’ affiliation changed as part of the Virginia High School League’s realignment for this school year, and will play in the 6A Liberty District beginning this spring. The coaching vacancy has been listed on the Fairfax County Public Schools website.
Snyder Named to Atlantic League’s Postseason All-Star Team
Michael Snyder (Westfield) was named earlier today as the first baseman on the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball’s Postseason All-Star Team, the league announced.
Snyder, who also served as a designated hitter for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, hit .280 with 25 home runs, 72 RBI and 34 doubles in 126 games. He ranked second in the league in homers, ninth in RBI and fourth in doubles.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound slugger matched his home run total from the previous season, when he hit .304 with 25 homers and 65 RBI in just 95 games with the Blue Crabs. The 27-year-old was a 23rd round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 out of Florida Southern College, then reached Double-A during his four years with the organization before being released in August 2015.
Snyder was joined on the All-Star team by two Blue Crabs teammates, pitchers Gaby Hernandez and Cody Eppley. Southern Maryland went 67-73 this season, earning a spot in the league playoffs after winning the Freedom Division’s first half with a 39-31 mark.
“We are very pleased to have such a strong showing on the Atlantic League’s Postseason All-Star Team” Blue Crabs general manager Courtney Knichel said in a release by the team. “Snyder, Hernandez, and Eppley were such great contributors to our club all season long and we are happy to see them receive this honor.”
Snyder’s older brother, Brandon, has appeared in the Major Leagues with four teams and spent this past season at Triple-A Syracuse while with the Washington Nationals organization. His twin brother Matt, a New York Yankees minor leaguer, finished his season with the Double-A Trenton last month.
Diamond Elite 15U Wins NVTBL Columbus Day Tournament Title
Thomas Haller (Woodgrove) went 3-for-3 with an RBI and Aaron Lautenschlager struck out six and allowed one run (none earned) over five innings to lead Diamond Elite 15U to a 7-1 win over Moose 16U in the JV Division championship game at the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League’s Columbus Day Tournament last night.
Lautenschlager, who also had two of Diamond Elite’s nine hits, scattered two hits and walked three to earn the victory. Enrique Grijalva (Heritage) tossed two scoreless innings in relief to close the game out.
Diamond Elite swept its six games at the tournament, outscoring its two pool play opponents, 12-3, before winning two elimination round games on Sunday. Earlier last night, the Loudoun County-based team beat Metro Senators JV North, 4-3, behind a walk off double in the bottom of the seventh inning by Wyatt Shenkman (Riverside). Shenkman started and went five innings, striking out six while allowing two runs to earn a no-decision.
Two tournament’s two remaining championship games have been postponed, with the 12U Division game between the Loudoun South Eagles and Mount Vernon Patriots Maroon scheduled for Saturday, and the 11U Division game between the Loudoun Aces and the winner of the South County Stallions/Virginia Cannons Blue semifinal next Wednesday.
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Sponsor: Today’s Notebook is sponsored by Crozier’s Five Tool Baseball Academy, which offers baseball training for baseball players ages 10 and up via small group lessons, clinics and summer camps. For more information, visit the academy’s website here.
Photo of Mark Rueffert by Fred Ingham