Gunston District Preview: Wolverines Eye 2nd Straight Title as Linza Era Begins

March 12 - After going a quarter-century between league championships, West Potomac ushers in a new era under first-year coach Jimmy Linza as the favorite to win a second consecutive Gunston District title.

Despite losing senior right-hander Tyler Rulapaugh, a George Mason recruit, to season-ending elbow surgery, the Wolverines return a deep pitching staff that will be anchored by Jimmy Curley. Another Division I signee who will pitch at High Point, Curley went 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA en route to second-team All-Region 6C honors as West Potomac overcame off-field drama and injuries on the field to win the league before falling in the regional quarterfinals to W.T. Woodson.

Enter Linza, who has led two of the district’s other teams - Mount Vernon and Hayfield - to a combined four championships and takes the reigns after longtime coach Jim Sullivan stepped down. Linza has added former Wakefield skipper George Baker as his pitching coach, and depth at that position remains a strength despite the loss of Rulapaugh with the return of left-handers Jack Bachmore (2-3, 3.98 ERA), a first-team all-district selection as a pitcher and outfielder last year, and junior Adam Fischer.

T.C. Williams took a hit with the loss of Evan Waldner, a first-team all-district outfielder who was expected to be the Titans’ ace but has left the team. Nonetheless, second-year coach David Latham returns a talented young core led by junior shortstop Shane Tucker and sophomore catcher Josh Goodrich, who were second-team all-region picks a year ago. Also back are two juniors, outfielder Story Everett (.343) and first baseman Nathan Keough (16 RBI), and junior lefty Jaden Cox (1.92 ERA in 21.2 IP) and senior Jack Goodrich (3.21 ERA in 28 IP) will look to carry the load in Waldner’s absence.

Hayfield hopes to play spoiler behind a lineup led by junior utility man Jonathan Woolsey (.310) and junior second baseman Sam Graziano (.355). The Hawks’ get a lift with the addition of West Potomac transfer Logan Watts, who will team with junior Daniel Peterson (3.25 ERA) to anchor the staff.

Annandale’s young core is a year older, but might still be a year away from its first winning season since 2016. The Atoms will be led by sophomore Danny Salisbury, a two-way threat who earned second-team all-region honors as a first baseman last spring. He is one of six freshmen or sophomores who will be in coach Chris Bagot’s lineup.

First-year coach Jeff Fleetwood takes over at Mount Vernon, which returns senior second baseman Dewin Martinez, a first-team all-league pick, and junior third baseman Jake Coakley, a second-team selection.

Coaches Poll
1. West Potomac (22)
2. T.C. Williams (20)
3. Hayfield (17)
4. Annandale (10)
5. Mount Vernon (6)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
West Potomac
Player of the Year: Shane Tucker, Jr., SS, T.C. Williams
Pitcher of the Year: Jimmy Curley, Sr., RHP, West Potomac

West Potomac Wolverines
Head Coach:
Jimmy Linza, 1st year (0-0), 10th year overall (130-64)
2018 Record: 13-9 overall, 8-0 district
Key Losses: OF Alec Roberts; RHP Tyler Rulapaugh (injured); 1B Liam McClanahan; SS Justin Shelton; OF Sam Meyer; OF Vinny Crawn; IF Kurt Sullivan
Key Returners: Sr. RHP Jimmy Curley; Sr. LHP/OF Jack Bachmore; Jr. LHP Adam Fischer
College Bound: Jimmy Curley (High Point); Tyler Rulapaugh (George Mason); Jack Bachmore (Lynchburg)
Coach’s Comments: “The Wolverines will be young, with only five seniors. We are losing nearly all of our offensive production from last year as eight players who were on the all-district team have graduated, plus one college commit who recently underwent season-ending arm surgery. We will have to battle at the plate, plus lean on a deep staff of arms to compete in the much-improved Gunston District this year.”

T.C. Williams Titans
Head Coach:
Dave Latham, 2nd year (13-9)
2018 Record: 13-9 overall, 6-2 district
Key Losses: OF Ben Wilson; OF Octavio Orona; OF/RHP Evan Waldner
Key Returners: So. C Josh Goodrich; Jr. SS Shane Tucker; Sr. LHP Jack Goodrich; Jr. OF/RHP Story Everett; Jr. 1B Nathan Keough; Jr. OF/LHP Jaden Cox
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “Strong pitching staff with good defense behind them. Young, but promising bats in the lineup.”

Hayfield Hawks
Head Coach:
Mike Shore, 8th year (56-85)
2018 Record: 5-15 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: C Kofi Aboagy-Namye; RHP/OF Alejandro Rodriguez; SS Braeden Muir
Key Returners: Jr. UTL Jonathan Woolsey; Sr. OF Nick Newry; Jr. RHP Daniel Peterson; Jr. 2B/RHP Sam Graziano; Sr. OF Alexander Guidinetti
College Bound: Logan Watts (Mary Washington), Alexander Guidinetti (St. Elizabeths)
Coach’s Comments: “I am very excited for the season. The kids put in a lot of work between the end of last season and the start of this season. We have had to overcome a major obstacle in not having our field this season but all of the kids have been very positive towards us going over to the turf field at South County for practices and games. This is one of the best group of kids I have ever had as far as their attitude, work ethic and willingness to get better every day.”

Annandale Atoms
Head Coach:
Chris Bagot, 3rd year (8-35)
2018 Record: 7-15 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: C Ryan Gammon; RHP/1B Travis Beacom
Key Returners: So. RHP/1B Danny Salisbury; Sr. 3B/RHP Alex Brennan; Sr. OF/RHP Ethan Zimmerman
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “[We] are going to be young again, starting five sophomores and a freshman. Seniors Alex Brennan and Ethan Zimmerman will be key in how far this team will go. Brennan brings a steady glove and a power bat to the middle of the lineup, and Zimmerman has shown a combination of patience and power from the leadoff spot. Danny Salisbury will be the No. 1 pitcher again and hit near the top of the lineup, and he paced the offense by hitting over .400 last year.”

Mount Vernon Majors
Head Coach:
Jeff Fleetwood, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 2-18 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: RHP/UT Roberto Ocampo; IF/RHP Timmy Heltzel
Key Returners: Sr. 2B Dewin Martinez; Jr. 3B Jake Coakley; Jr. OF Weston Rogers; So. 3B Peter Dunn
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “[We are] very young, with a lack experience at the varsity level which will show at times. Good core group of juniors and sophomores that are hungry to compete. We’re looking to compete and get better each and every week, and looking to be in the mix for the third seed in the Gunston and earn a berth to regionals.”

Photos of Annandale’s Danny Salisbury and West Potomac’s Jimmy Curley courtesy of their respective programs