October 19 - Participation numbers among Virginia High School League schools fielding baseball programs have seen a steady decline in each of the past five seasons.
Since 2014, the state’s public schools have seen a 4.5 percent drop in the number of players taking the field, down from 9,392 six years ago to 8,968 this past season. On average, the VHSL’s 309 programs rostered 29.02 players in 2019, a decrease from 30.39 in 2014.
Locally, 66 public schools in the magazine’s Northern Virginia coverage area have fielded programs during that span - Colgan, Rock Ridge and Riverside have opened since 2014, so are not included in the study - and those programs have seen a smaller drop in numbers. They combined to field 2,258 players in 2014 and 2,203 in 2019, a 2.5 percent drop. The average Northern Virginia program carried 34.21 players in 2014 and 33.38 this past season.
Six area schools - Centreville, C.D. Hylton, Edison, Lee, Patriot and Stonewall Jackson - saw double-digit drops in numbers from 2014 and 2019. Patriot’s drop is a bit skewed, as the Pioneers had a state-high 53 players in 2014 and still rostered an above-average 40 players this past spring. Centreville, had 34 players in its program during a season in which the Wildcats earned a Class 6 state tournament berth. C.D. Hylton, which was in the state tournament as recently as 2016, saw its participation numbers reach an all-time low of 24 players this past season.
Low 2019 player turnout at Lee (18), Manassas Park (18), Stonewall Jackson (17), Park View and Freedom-Woodbridge (10) prevented the schools from fielding junior varsity teams. In 2020, Freedom-Woodbridge will field only a junior varsity team and won’t compete at the varsity level.
Find more information on participation numbers at VHSL and Northern Virginia programs in the tables below.
Photo of C.D. Hylton coach Jason Ritenour by Caitlyn Verberg