May 6 - Two of Loudoun County’s top underclassmen have been hit with injuries as ailments continue to pile up across the area this spring.
Freedom-South Riding sophomore two-way standout Casey Cook, a University of North Carolina recruit, is out indefinitely with a lower body injury and Heritage junior right-hander Dylan Saale has been limited to designated hitter duties while battling a shoulder injury.
Cook suffered what was initially diagnosed by an athletic trainer as an oblique strain in the Eagles’ 6-2 loss at Briar Woods on Tuesday. The injury, however, remains without an official diagnosis as he seeks additional medical opinions. Cook is hitting .465 with 13 RBI and has compiled a 2.52 ERA in 14 innings this spring.
“Casey’s absence in the lineup will have to be absorbed by someone else who is hungry to play,” said Freedom coach Mark Wrighte, who added that he was unsure of the severity of the injury or of any timetable for his return.
Wrighte’s club totaled nine hits against Potomac Falls lefty Nate Savino in a 4-3 win on Thursday in its first game without Cook. The Eagles, who are 11-5 overall and 7-3 in the Potomac District entering tomorrow’s game at Rock Ridge, have a deep staff that will be asked to adjust roles without the young right-hander. Freedom has had 10 hurlers see innings, and its staff has also gotten big campaigns from senior left-hander Bryce Eisenreich, senior righty Ben Williamson and another sophomore, right-hander Connor Kolarov.
Saale, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched since allowing a season-high five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 5.1 innings in the Pride’s 5-0 loss to Dominion on Apr. 23. The third-year starter has carried a heavy workload this spring, averaging 103 pitches in his five starts and topping 100 pitches four times. He’s 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.
Saale’s injury isn’t expected to limit him long term, and he could return to the mound as early as this week. Heritage (8-8 overall, 3-6 Dulles District) has lost four straight and seven of nine entering tomorrow’s game against Park View.
The injuries to Cook and Saale are the latest to befall current and potential Division I recruits this season. West Potomac senior right-hander Tyler Rulapaugh (George Mason) is missing the season following elbow surgery in March, and Riverside senior shortstop Carson Swank (Yale) recently returned after missing 12 games with a broken hand.
Photo of Freedom’s Casey Cook by Fred Ingham