January 1 - Vienna Post 180 has been named the magazine’s 2018 High School Offseason Team of the Year after winning the post’s first American Legion state championship since 1990.
The 2018 Teams of the Year are sponsored by Pitchers Edge in Vienna.
Managed by Nick Good, Vienna raced out to a 14-0 start and didn’t look back, knocking off rival Springfield Post 176 in the District 17 final and breezing past Adam’s Post 86 in the state final to become the first Northern Virginia team to win a state title since 1992. They did so behind a powerful lineup headlined by two members of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, Justin Taylor and Player of the Year Kyle Novak.
This year’s other nominees included: Diamond Elite 2019, which finished third at Perfect Game’s BCA 17U National Championship and No. 34 in its final national rankings; Leesburg Post 34, which made a Cinderella run to the championship game at the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regionals; the Marucci Stars 2019 Carroll, which won 40 games and finished third at the Perfect Game WWBA Super25 National Championship; Metro Senators 2021 Raley, which won 22 of 28 games over the summer; and the Northern Fairfax County 16-18 All-Stars, which won the Southeast Regional and advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series.
In the seventh story in our Year in Review series, the magazine summarizes each of the nominees for our High School Offseason Team of the Year:
Team: Vienna Post 180
Affiliation: American Legion
Head Coach: Nick Good
Assistant Coaches: Tom Gately
Record: 31-5 overall (includes playoffs)
Team Summary: A stacked roster featuring two players from the 2018 NOVA Nine Team - Justin Taylor and Kyle Novak, the magazine’s Player of the Year - led Post 180 to its first state championship since 1990. Behind a high-powered lineup that hit a collective .354 and scored just under 10 runs a game, Vienna jumped out to a 14-0 start and had two more seven-game winning streaks. The team escaped Winchester Post 21, 5-4, in the state semifinals before blitzing Adam’s Post 86, 15-1, in the final behind a complete-game effort from ace Jake Nielsen. A roster depleted by injury and outside commitments was unable to continue the run at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, but nonetheless the Vienna club turned in a memorable summer campaign. Taylor (Cornell), Novak (James Madison) and Nielsen (Brigham Young) are now playing at the Division I level and several others are or will play at smaller schools. Taylor hit a team-high .442 with 26 RBI and was named the MVP of the state tournament, Novak hit .421 with 29 RBI while Eric Lingebach (.441, 5 HR, 51 RBI), Avery Neaves (.393, 5 HR, 25 RBI) and Nate Leas (.348, 2 HR, 30 RBI) rounded out the middle of the order. Nielsen went a perfect 7-0 while pacing the staff in strikeouts (41) and innings (49.0), and Taylor compiled a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings as the team’s closer.
Team: Diamond Elite 2019
Head Coach: Sam Plank
Assistant Coaches: Bill Mason
Record: 27-4-1 overall
Team Summary: Featuring four players committed to Division I programs, Diamond Elite won regional Prospect Wire, Dynamic and D1Draftable events over the summer and excelled on the national stage by going 7-1-1 and placing third at the Perfect Game BCS 17U National Championship in Fort Myers, FL in July. Coached by Riverside High School skipper Sam Plank, the Loudoun County-based team finished ranked No. 34 in Perfect Game’s national ranking of Class of 2019 travel teams. Diamond Elite was paced by two players who were selected to the magazine’s 2018 NOVA Nine Team - Riverside shortstop Carson Swank (Yale) and Potomac Falls left-hander and outfielder Nate Savino (Virginia) - as well as two right-handers who will pitch at James Madison, Kettle Run’s Joe Vogatsky and Sherando’s Hunter Entsminger. Other standouts included Rock Ridge infielder Josh Harbinson and Riverside left-hander and first baseman Nick Connolly.
Team: Leesburg Post 34
Affiliation: American Legion
Head Coach: Brenton Peters
Assistant Coaches: Daniel Gershen, Kris Pratt, Brandall Peters, Forrest Walker
Record: 15-9-1 overall
Team Summary: Post 34 had an up-and-down regular season and an early exit from the state tournament, but as the host team found itself alive and well in the Mid-Atlantic Regional in August. The upstart Rangers then rode the bats of Connor Miller and John Marquart and the arms of Patrick Burke, Wes Glass, Michael Grupe and youngster Ryan Dudak to within a game of a second American Legion World Series in three years. After dropping its opening game at the double-elimination regional, Leesburg won four straight - including a 12-10 comeback victory over Souderton (PA) Post 234 in the semifinals - before falling to eventual World Series champion Winchester (DE) Post 1 in the final. Miller, the 2018 graduate of Loudoun Valley who is now playing at Randolph-Macon, paced the team in batting average (.446), hits (33), runs (25) and steals (13) and was the toughest out in the regional tournament. Loudoun Valley’s Marquart, meanwhile, led the team with two homers and 22 RBI. Burke, a Loudoun County grad who is now pitching at Roanoke, had a team-best 1.73 ERA while Glass, who graduated Riverside in June and is now pitching at Young Harris College, paced Post 34 with 51 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.
Team: Marucci Stars 2019 Carroll
Head Coach: Carson Carroll
Assistant Coaches: None
Record: 40-8 overall
Team Summary: Skippered by longtime travel and showcase coach Carson Carroll, the Stars turned in another successful campaign after their two predecessors had won this category. They went 34-6 over the summer, going 5-2 in pool play at the Perfect Game WWBA 17U National Championship in June and finishing third at the Perfect Game WWBA Super25 National Championship in July. The Stars rostered several Division I recruits, including Battlefield shortstop and right-hander Zach Agnos (East Carolina), a member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, as well as Lake Braddock first baseman and right-hander Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason), Centreville pitcher Hunter Bell (Virginia Commonwealth), Madison lefty Matt Howat (William & Mary), Loudoun County lefty Donovan Burke (James Madison), Battlefield outfielder Carter Cunningham (Gardner-Webb), Freedom-South Riding infielder Ben Williamson (William & Mary), Robinson catcher Ethan Rothstein (James Madison), Leonardtown (MD) outfielder Nick Burch (Naval Academy), Flint Hill pitcher Alex Walsh (Lafayette) and Colgan outfielder Ryley Johnson (East Carolina).
Team: Marucci Stars 2022 Molina
Head Coach: Pete Greenwood
Assistant Coaches: Jim Triantos, Greg Knowles, Dave Zamora
Record: 32-6 overall
Team Summary: The Stars went navigated a grueling schedule en route to the Perfect Game BCA 15U National Championship in June, then went 6-1 and barely missed advancing from their pool the following month at the Perfect Game WWBA 15U National Championship en route to a No. 6 national ranking at the end of the year. Team was led by three Division I commits, including Justice’s Dean Kampschror (Virginia) and Northern Virginia residents James Triantos (North Carolina) and Evan Smith (West Virginia) from St. John’s (D.C.). Other top players included Annandale’s Danny Salisbury, Lake Braddock’s Andrew Schaeb, Broad Run’s Connor Hale, Robinson’s Warren Holzemer, Madison’s Colin Tuft and Forest Park’s Nathan Williams.
Team: Metro Senators 2021 Raley
Head Coach: Dan Raley
Assistant Coaches: Bryan Blanton
Team Summary: The Senators won 22 of 28 games over the summer before stumbling in the fall after losing several players to their high school football teams, nonetheless turned in a stellar campaign under longtime Potomac High School assistant and area hitting instructor Dan Raley. During its summer run, the team won the Tri-County Schools Out 16u Tournament. The Senators were paced at the plate by Dylan Heil, who hit .402 with 26 RBI and 22 stolen bases, and on the mound by Phillip Gilbert, who compiled a 3.50 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 42.2 innings.
Team: Northern Fairfax County 16-18 All-Stars
Affiliation: Babe Ruth League
Head Coach: Dave Gould
Assistant Coaches: Donnie Bradley, John Lesch, Jeff Blevins
Team Summary: The NFC All-Stars bounced back after losing in the state championship game to Southwestern Youth Association, avenging the loss by defeating SYA in the Southeast Regional final to advance to the Babe Ruth World Series in New York. There, they advanced to the quarterfinals on thanks to a walk-off single by recent Chantilly graduate Christian Parana in their final pool play game. The team was led offensively by Parana, Ryan Hodinko, Justin Blevins, Matt Holsten and Jack Fitzhugh.
Photo of Vienna Post 180’s Justin Taylor by Joey Kamide