Concorde District Preview: Can Trio of Contenders Catch Madison?

March 9 - Madison’s pitching depth would generally make them a clear-cut favorite, in most leagues. But the Concorde District is no ordinary league, and the Warhawks will have their hands full this spring as they pursue a seventh consecutive championship in their second season since coming over from the Liberty District.

A staff headlined by senior left-hander Matt Howat, a College of William & Mary recruit, will certainly make Madison tough to beat once again. But the pitching combination of Joe Clancy and Danny Leo has Westfield eyeing a big bounceback season, Chantilly returns a cache of arms and a deep lineup that many felt arrived a year early during their surprise run to the Class 6 state tournament last spring, and Centreville boasts an ace of its own in Virginia Commonwealth signee Hunter Bell and what looks to be a much-improved lineup led by junior outfielder Thomas Trinca.

All four teams provide legitimate cases to be considered contenders in what could be the state’s deepest district - as further evidenced by the results of the Concorde’s preseason coaches poll.

And then there’s Oakton, which isn’t expected to contend for the district title, but boasts a Division I-bound southpaw of its own in Villanova recruit Seth Richards. Most of the key contributors from the Cougars’ run to the region title and state tournament in 2017 are gone, but Richards and junior Julian Heitman - who, if he can stay healthy, could emerge as one of the area’s top two-way players - will give coach Justin Janis’ group hope.

Howat, who went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA last year and has totaled 112 strikeouts to just 20 walks in 94.2 innings over the past two seasons, is joined by fellow lefties Josh Gjormand and Zach Perkins on what will be one of the area’s deepest staffs. Senior outfielder Ethan Lipp, a first-team all-region selection despite playing through a torn labrum last year, will anchor a lineup that will have to replace Kyle Novak, the NOVA Nine Player of the Year, and all-state third baseman Nate Leas.

Madison’s skipper, Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand, seems to field good offensive teams each spring and his club’s ability to produce around Lipp (.349, 3 HR, 22 RBI) will be key for that to continue. Josh Gjormand (.385), a second-team all-region first baseman last year, as well as catcher Chris Polymeropoulos (.381) and Perkins (.340), who plays in the outfield when not on the mound, will be asked to carry much of that load.

Clancy (team-best 2.10 ERA) and Leo (team-high five wins) will anchor Westfield’s staff, and coach Rob Hahne’s club welcomes shortstop Jake Hockett back after he missed the entire 2018 season with a knee injury. Clancy, who had a team-high five home runs, will hit in the middle of a lineup that will be set by one of the area’s fastest players, junior outfielder Derek Furr (.440 in 11 games), who also missed time last year with an injury.

A fourth state tournament appearance in five seasons looked to be a longshot when Chantilly lost nine of its first 15 games last year, but coach Kevin Ford’s team caught fire in May and extended its season into June before falling to Battlefield in the Region 6D final and to eventual state champion West Springfield in the Class 6 semifinals. This year, Ford’s club returns a talented core led by Lafayette recruit Dylan Siesky (.333, 14 RBI) and fellow infielders Thomas Latham (team-high .358), Kyle Hodinko (.349, 19 RBI) and Connor Pennell.

Chargers pitchers Nicholas Zampiello (2.69 ERA) and Patrick Whittingham (3.25 ERA) are part of a versatile staff that could be asked to fill any number of roles depending on the situation and opponent.

Centreville lost two Division I arms in Cristian Sanchez (Virginia) and John Farley (Eastern Kentucky), but the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Bell (1.89 ERA, 30 K, 26 IP) looks ready to step in as the Wildcats’ ace in coach Scott Rowland’s second season.

Trinca, an all-league selection the past two seasons who hit .353 last year, could be the Concorde’s most talented overall player and will be surrounded by several returners to Rowland’s lineup. That group includes senior shortstop Derek Haynie, a Hofstra recruit who is joined by junior third baseman Gavin Collins to form an athletic and talented left side of the infield.

Coaches Poll
1. Westfield (20)
2. Madison (19)
3. Chantilly (18)
4. Centreville (13)
5. Oakton (5)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
Player of the Year: Thomas Trinca, Jr., OF, Centreville
Pitcher of the Year: Matt Howat, Sr., LHP, Madison

Westfield Bulldogs
Head Coach:
Rob Hahne, 6th year (54-52)
2018 Record: 8-12 overall, 3-5 district
Key Losses: SS Nick DiVecchia; OF Ross Steinhilber
Key Returners: Jr. OF Derek Furr; Sr. RHP/IF Joe Clancy, Sr. RHP/1B Danny Leo; So. OF Nick Lottchea
College Bound: Danny Leo (Chesapeake)
Coach’s Comments: “We have more depth on the mound and throughout the roster than we have had in several years. We have a chance to do good things. We have [Derek] Furr and [Jake] Hockett back healthy.  The district is extremely competitive again, so our focus is preparing for Concorde games and competition.”

Madison Warhawks
Head Coach:
Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand, 24th year (412-135)
2018 Record: 15-7 overall, 6-2 district
Key Losses: SS Kyle Novak; 3B Nate Leas; RHP Jake Nielsen
Key Returners: Sr. LHP Matt Howat; Sr. 1B/LHP Josh Gjormand; Sr. OF Ethan Lipp; Jr. C Chris Polymeropoulos; Sr. IF Luke Erdmann; Sr. LHP/OF Zach Perkins; Sr. SS Carson Hoffman; Sr. 3B David Favero
College Bound: Matt Howat (William & Mary); Josh Gjormand (Lynchburg); Luke Erdmann (Washington & Lee); Zach Perkins (Washington & Lee)
Coach’s Comments: “[We have a] very experienced and talented team with a nice mix of talented young players coming up from the JV. We have to replace a very good senior class, but I think this year’s 10 seniors will be ready to take over where those guys left off. We face the hardest regular season schedule in my 24 years at Madison, including a loaded Concorde District that has a number of players coming back.”

Chantilly Chargers
Head Coach:
Kevin Ford, 14th year (186-121)
2018 Record: 14-13 overall, 3-5 district
Key Losses: OF Christian Parana; 2B Ryan Hodinko; OF Joey Imperato
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/OF Nicholas Zampiello; Sr. RHP/1B Patrick Whittingham; Jr. IF Thomas Latham; Sr. IF Kyle Hodinko; Sr. IF/RHP Dylan Siesky; Sr. OF/RHP Connor Pennell; Jr. C Shane Dux
College Bound: Dylan Siesky (Lafayette); Connor Pennell (Christopher Newport); Patrick Whittingham (Penn State-Berks)
Coach’s Comments: “[We] will have a solid core group coming back this year with the addition of some younger players. We have some ability on the mound that will need to execute and a deep bench at the plate.  Defensively, we return defensive standouts at third base and behind the plate with some competition to fill spots in our outfield.”

Centreville Wildcats
Head Coach:
Scott Rowland, 2nd year (14-9); 18th year overall (270-127)
2018 Record: 14-9 overall, 5-3 district
Key Losses: RHP/OF Cristian Sanchez; LHP John Farley; C David Campbell
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/1B Hunter Bell; Jr. OF/RHP Thomas Trinca; Sr. SS Derek Haynie; Jr. 3B Gavin Collins; Jr. RHP/IF Eric Bohenek; Jr. RHP/OF Colby Shriner; Sr. 2B Conner Nguyen; Sr. C Julian Rodriguez
College Bound: Hunter Bell (Virginia Commonwealth); Derek Haynie (Hofstra)
Coach’s Comments: “Team offense and consistent pitching will determine how far the Wildcats go this season. I like our team, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will step up once the season begins.”

Oakton Cougars
Head Coach:
Justin Janis, 11th year (135-94-1)
2018 Record: 9-13-1 overall, 3-5 district
Key Losses: SS Eric Lingebach; 3B Jared Kimbel; OF Craig Benson; C J.P. Neary
Key Returners: Sr. LHP Seth Richards; Sr. RHP Jack Whipp; Jr. IF/RHP Julian Heitman
College Bound: Seth Richards (Villanova)
Coach’s Comments: “We have a great group of young men who do great in school and give great effort on the field. I expect our team to go out each day and compete to the best of their abilities.”

Photos of Centreville’s Hunter Bell by Tracey White and of Madison’s Matt Howat by Albert Jacquez