December 3 - Bishop O’Connell will have an Atlantic Coast Conference flavor this spring, with three Knights players now committed to play in one of the top baseball conferences in the county.
William Pickford, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior right-hander, has committed to pitch at Virginia Tech, making his decision public via Twitter earlier this evening. He joins two O’Connell juniors - left-hander Jake Berry (Virginia) and shortstop and right-hander Eddie Eisert (N.C. State) - as players bound for ACC schools.
“Proud to announce my commitment to continue my athletic and academic career at Virginia Tech,” Pickford wrote on his Twitter handle. “Thank you very much to everyone who has helped me get here.”
Pickford, who won’t turn 18 until next August, was initially considering taking a gap year and becoming a Class of 2020 recruit, but interest in him spiked after he was consistently in the upper-80s and had his fastball reach 90 MPH while guest playing with Team Northeast at the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in Florida in October.
He generally plays in the offseason with the Virginia Seminoles travel program.
After compiling a 3.99 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 11 walks in 26.1 innings as sophomore in 2017, Pickford struggled this past spring. He made five appearances, compiling a 10.86 ERA while allowing 33 base runners - 19 hits and 14 walks - in 9.2 innings for the Knights (10-14).
Nonetheless, the Hokies’ coaching staff sees the potential in a right-hander who will arrive at the Blacksburg school armed with a big fastball to match his physical stature. Pickford joins a Virginia Tech recruiting class that also includes Loudoun Valley righty Michael Grupe and Woodgrove’s 6-foot-6, 205-pound righty Nick Lockhart, both of whom have fastballs that reach into the high 80s.
The Hokies went 21-33 overall and 8-22 in the ACC in coach John Szefc’s first season.
Photo of William Pickford courtesy of O’Connell Baseball