July 6 - O’Kelly McWilliams entered high school skilled. He was just undersized.
Fast forward a few years and after transferring from Oakton to Flint Hill and reclassifying, the Huskies’ senior right-hander and infielder developed into a muscular 6-foot, 170-pound right-handed pitcher and shortstop who will play next year at Wofford College.
McWilliams got in the weight room, joined Flint Hill’s football program and culminated his transformation by becoming one of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association’s top two-way threats in his final prep campaign. His reclassification made sense as he wouldn’t have turned 18 until the fall of his freshman year in college, and he filled some of the Huskies’ production and leadership void created by the graduation of Justin Taylor.
The versatile senior went 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA while averaging 11.4 strikeouts per seven innings and banged out 25 hits as Flint Hill earned an eighth state tournament berth in nine years.
As a result, McWilliams joins our Private School Nine, a group that also includes Bishop O’Connell’s Peter Colevas and Eddie Eisert, Highland School’s Joe DeBardi and Blake Fisher, Episcopal’s John Moses and Thomas Windels, and Paul VI Catholic’s Nick Ortega and Devon Zavacky.
The magazine’s Auxiliary Nines are part of our NOVA Nine Team series honoring the top players from Northern Virginia. The series is sponsored by The St. James in Springfield.
Here’s a look at this year’s selections:
Peter Colevas, Senior, Bishop O’Connell - The two-way threat was integral to the Knights’ turnaround and run to the WCAC semifinal round and first VISAA Division I state tournament berth since 2016. Colevas, the team’s center fielder and a left-handed pitcher, was a second-team all-state selection after hitting .369 with 31 hits and going 2-3 with a 1.45 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.
Joe DeBardi, Senior, Highland School - DeBardi hit .463 with a .489 on-base percentage and half of hits 38 hits went for extra bases, including 13 doubles and four homers to go along with 30 RBI, 29 runs and 15 steals. He was named the Delaney Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a first-team all-state selection and helped the Hawks reach the VISAA Division II state final. Will play at Mount St. Mary’s University.
Eddie Eisert, Junior, Bishop O’Connell - A two-time first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and VISAA DIvision I all-state selection, Eisert hit .432 with a .510 on-base percentage, 35 hits - 13 that went for extra bases - along with 18 RBI and 17 stolen bases to help the Knights reach the WCAC semifinal series and state quarterfinals. He also went 1-2 with two saves, a 1.29 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. Has committed to play at N.C. State.
Blake Fisher, Junior, Highland School - Earned first-team All-Delaney Athletic Conference and VISAA Division II all-state honors for the second straight season after helping the Hawks to the conference title and reach the state final for the first time in program history. Fisher hit .380 with a .484 on-base percentage, 21 RBI and 11 steals and was 6-3 with a 2.13 ERA and 36 strikeouts to 19 walks in 42.2 innings.
O’Kelly McWilliams, Senior, Flint Hill - A first-team All-Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference and VISAA Division I all-state selection, McWilliams emerged as the team’s leader in his senior campaign. The two-way player was 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA and 87 strikeouts to 23 walks in 53.1 innings and hit .309 with a .467 on-base percentage, 11 RBI and 17 steals. Will play at Wofford College.
John Moses, Senior, Episcopal - A first-team VISAA Division I all-state selection, the senior catcher and pitcher hit .413 with a .516 on-base percentage, 31 hits, three home runs, 15 RBI and 16 steals while going 3-3 with two saves, a 0.66 ERA and 66 strikeouts to 26 walks in 42.1 innings while helping the Maroon earn its first state tournament appearance. Will play at the University of Rochester.
Nick Ortega, Senior, Paul VI Catholic - A first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference selection and second-team VISAA Division I all-state pick, the left-hander served as the Panthers’ ace as they overcame a slow start to earn a 16th straight state tournament appearance. Ortega finished 5-3 with a 2.22 ERA and had 46 strikeouts to 14 walks in 53.2 innings. Will pitch at Elizabethtown College.
Thomas Windels, Senior, Episcopal - A member of the All-Interstate Athletic Conference team and first-team VISAA Division I all-state choice after helping the Maroon qualify for the Alexandria school’s first state tournament, Windels finished his senior campaign 7-3 with a 1.42 ERA and 77 strikeouts to just nine walks in 59 innings. Will pitch for Macalester College.
Devon Zavacky, Senior, Paul VI Catholic - The Panthers’ leader as they qualified for a 16th consecutive VISAA Division I state tournament, the outfielder earned first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and all-state honors. Zavacky, who was the football team’s quarterback in the fall, hit .338 with a .430 on-base percentage, 27 hits, seven doubles, 14 RBI and 12 steals.
Sponsor: This year’s NOVA Nine Team and Auxiliary Nines are sponsored by The St. James Sports, Wellness and Entertainment Complex in Springfield. For more information, visit www.thestjames.co.
Photo of O’Kelly McWilliams courtesy of Flint Hill Athletics