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For Young Herndon Baseball Team, Hopes are High

South Lakes looking to improve on last year’s 6-win season

In many regards, Herndon High’s 2010 baseball season was quite a success. The Hornets, who were under then-first year head coach Greg Miller, were in the running for the regular season Concorde District title right up to the final two weeks of the season before faltering in losses to district leaders Westfield and Centreville. Herndon ultimately lost its first round district playoff game to Oakton in extra innings to miss out on qualifying for the 16-team playoffs, which had been a goal throughout the season for the Hornets.

While there was disappointment as a result of not qualifying for regionals, Herndon did put together a fairly good overall season in Miller’s first year at the helm. The program had struggled in prior years so the Hornets’ 11-7 overall mark last spring was a breath of fresh air.

But the Hornets have graduated quite a number of players from last year’s team, including 2010 First Team All-Concorde District selections Nick Impellizzeri (outfield), Dan Shill (pitcher), and Zach Reif (DH).

Miller’s squad this spring consists of 15 players with no varsity experience. So 2011 will be a season in which talented but inexperienced players get their feet wet at the varsity level.

It could work either way this season. Herndon could surprise its district rivals and, with youthful gusto and enthusiasm, make a run at the regular season district crown. On the other hand, the Hornets could, perhaps, go through the normal growing pains of a younger squad and struggle to win consistently.

The great thing about baseball is, you just never know. Miller wants no part of a `wait until next year’ mentality.

“Despite our youth, we still have high expectations this year,” said Miller, whose squad consists of just three seniors. “Our defense will be much improved from last year, and we have competition at almost every position. We are hoping to build on the success we had last year. Although it was a good year, we certainly didn’t meet one of our major goals of making the regional tournament. This year we not only expect to get to the tournament but we expect to make some noise once we get there.”

Herndon certainly was impressive at its own season-opening Alan McCullock Invitational last weekend, where the Hornets won both of their games – 8-0 over Fauquier High on Friday, and 3-2 over Kettle Run (Nokesville) on Saturday. The tournament is named after McCullock, the popular, longtime former Herndon High baseball coach who stepped down following the 2009 season. The Hornets’ home field diamond – Al McCullock Field - is named in his honor.

Herndon’s lineup consists of three returning starters in sophomore outfielder Ky Parrot, senior second baseman/pitcher Dylan Garten, and junior catcher Matt Smith.

Garten, a right-handed pitcher, recently accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Shepherd University (West Va.). Two Herndon High seniors from last year, Impellizzeri and Paul Hvozdovic, are currently members of the Rams’ baseball team.

Herndon has received good early season contributions thus far from juniors Chris Dugan (third base), pitcher/outfielder Tyler Reif, and pitcher/second baseman Addison Wright.

Reif, in Herndon’s win over Fauquier last week, pitched a complete game one-hitter.

Next Wednesday night, March 30 at 6:30, Herndon will be at home against local rival South Lakes.

<b>SOUTH LAKES HIGH</b> is off to a 1-1 start. The Seahawks, under veteran head coach Galvin Morris, competed at the McCullock Invitational at Herndon last weekend. There, South Lakes lost a Friday evening game to Kettle Run, 6-0, then came back strong the following afternoon with a 10-4 win over Fauquier.

In the season-opener loss to Kettle Run, South Lakes tallied just one hit, that coming in the seventh inning off the bat of Billy McLaughlin, who was the lone base-runner of the game for the Seahawks.

South Lakes’ starting pitcher John Beck pitched well in the loss, allowing three runs and two hits over five solid innings.

South Lakes got its bats going in Saturday’s win over Fauquier. The Seahawks took command from the start by scoring five first inning runs and going on to their first victory of the season. Ryan Forrest, South Lakes’ leadoff hitter, knocked around three hits in the game, including a solo home run and a double. Also for South Lakes, right fielder David Odlen and first baseman Austin Gibbons both contributed key hits and drove in three runs. Other good games came from McLaughlin (1 hit, 2 runs), Nick Beaulac (3 runs, RBI), Will Sweet (double, RBI), and Nathan Vellayan (1 hit).

Sweet was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs and five hits over four innings as the Seahawks’ starter. Odlen pitched three innings in relief, striking out six.

South Lakes will be looking to improve on last year’s 6-16 season. The Seahawks, at last year’s district tournament, defeated Langley in a play-in game before seeing their season end with a 9-2 loss to Stone Bridge.