If the Briar Woods High baseball team shows improvement on the pitching mound this season, it could take huge strides as a program.
Briar Woods, in its first two years of existence, was 1-20 its first year in 2006 and 0-21 last year. The team showed good aptitude at the plate last year, but the Falcons’ pitching staff struggled all spring.
"We swung the bats very, very well last year," said second year head coach Josh Mosser, who served as a varsity assistant during Briar Woods’ inaugural season in 2006. "We had guys who could swing the bat, one through nine [in the batting order]. The problem was we had good pitching for the first three innings, but couldn’t close [games]. We had young starting pitchers and just didn’t have anyone we could bring in [for long relief]."
The Falcons’ overall team batting showed big improvement last year as Briar Woods was shut out just one time, compared to suffering four shutout losses the year before. But better production at the plate was not enough to get the Falcons into the win column. Briar Woods simply did not have the pitching arms to be competitive.
But this year, the team’s pitching could be improved. Mosser said he has 10 players on the roster who he believes can have success pitching. Four of those players are freshmen.
The Falcons should get a huge boost with the addition of Ian Hickman, a junior transfer student from Loudoun County High School, to the pitching staff. Hickman, who served as the Raiders’ closer last year at Loudoun County, will be Briar Woods’ No. 1 starter this spring. According to Mosser, Hickman throws in the low to mid 80s and uses both a curve a changeup pitch. In 29 innings of work last year, he struck out 33 batters.
"He works real hard at being the best pitcher he can be," said Mosser, impressed with the newcomers’ work ethic.
IN THE FIELD, key position players for Briar Woods will include shortstop Gavin Scherer, catchers Chris Wade and Logan Harris, center fielder Alex Munro and versatile player Kyle Haufler.
Wade, a junior, will likely be the team’s starting catcher. He can also play third base and pitch. He was a starting pitcher two years ago for the Falcons. Last year, as a result of a sore arm, he did not log any pitching innings. This spring, Mosser plans on utilizing Wade as the team’s closer out of the bullpen.
Harris, a sophomore, also will see action at both third base and catcher. He caught a lot last year.
"He’s the hardest working kid, and talented," said Mosser, of Harris,
Scherer, the team’s sophomore shortstop, will bat in the leadoff or No. 2 position of the Falcons’ lineup. He is a steady all-around ball player.
"He has lots of athletic ability," said Mosser. "He fields the ball well, hits to all fields and gets on base a lot. He started last year as a freshmen and I thought he played very well. He showed flashes of outstanding defensive play and flashes of being a good hitter."
Munro, who led the Briar Woods football team to the playoffs last fall as the team’s starting quarterback, is the baseball team’s starting center fielder.
"He’s a wonderful leader," said Mosser, of Munro. "He and I have talked about how the talent level and all around feel of the program has improved. Guys want to be here."
Munro is a third year starter.
"He’s got some pop in his bat and hits the ball well gap to gap," said the coach.
Haufler, a sophomore left-handed batter, has impressed his coach with his ability to play several positions. Mosser said Haufler could help the team this season in the outfield as well as at third or second base.
"He puts his nose to the grindstone and works his tail off," said Mosser. "He’s a good line drive hitter and has a good onbase [percentage]."
Mosser, whose team is made up of two seniors, two juniors and 13 freshmen and sophomore combined, said one of the team’s goals this season is to host a first round Dulles District tournament game. In order to do so, the Falcons must finish among the top four teams of the district’s regular season standings.
"It might be a lofty goal to set," said Mosser. "We have the opportunity with the boost to the pitching staff that Ian [Hickman] gives us."
Briar Woods is scheduled to open up its new season this Friday night with a 6:30 p.m. home game against Warren County High School. The Falcons’ Dulles District opener will be on March 25 against visiting Broad Run.