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Cavaliers Live Up to High Expectations

Woodson starts 9-1 following last year’s state playoff appearance.

Woodson senior David Rozner lifted a fly ball to center field against Langley on Monday, April 18. The left-hander didn’t get it all, but with the cozy, atypical dimensions of the Cavaliers’ home field, a blast wasn’t necessary.

Rozner’s fifth-inning glorified pop-up landed past the centerfield fence, located roughly 310 feet from home plate, for a two-run homer; part a four-RBI day that helped Woodson win 6-2 during the Highlander Cavalier 2011 Spring Break Baseball Tournament.

"It wasn’t one of the biggest home runs I’ve ever hit," Rozner said. "Once you see the centerfielder going back, you kind of realize that it has a chance."

Rozner’s teammates greeted him outside the dugout with a good-natured ribbing. After the game, head coach Chris Warren jokingly referred to Rozner’s homer as a "wall-scraper."

"They all count," Warren said.

Rozner’s homer was just one of many reasons the Cavaliers have had to smile during the 2011 season. Woodson improved to 9-1 with the win over Langley and has scored six or more runs in nine of 10 games. The Cavaliers’ lone loss came against undefeated South County, which, along with Lake Braddock, figures to be Woodson’s toughest competition in pursuit of a Patriot District championship.

In 2010, Woodson’s first season in the Patriot District, the Cavaliers finished region runner-up at 19-8 and reached the state playoffs for the first time since 1995.

"We definitely have higher expectations this year," Rozner said, "but I feel like we’re more ready to live up to it."

Senior pitcher and infielder John McGillicuddy is one of Woodson’s returning standouts. The right-hander started on the mound on Monday and earned the victory, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings, while walking none and striking out 11. McGillicuddy said last season’s experience has helped the Cavaliers’ mindset.

"We didn’t have the easiest trip to states," McGillicuddy said of beating Westfield, McLean and Lake Braddock in the regional tournament. "Coming into this year, with all the guys coming back to play, we know whoever we compete against, we have a chance. It doesn’t matter if it’s Lake Braddock, South County, even if we’re down, we know we can come back."

Last season’s success put a target on the Cavaliers’ backs, but Warren said he hasn’t changed his approach to coaching. McGillicuddy said he takes pride in facing an opponent’s best shot.

"When you do beat them," he said, "you’re like, ‘What else can they throw at us?’"

McGillicuddy is one of four Cavalier starting pitchers, along with seniors Joe McGillicuddy, Tyler Wislocki and Bryson Hough.

"We’re confident," Warren said, "when any of those guys take the mound."

Warren said junior catcher Joey Coogan has played an important role in the team’s pitching success, which includes holding seven of 10 opponents to two runs or fewer.

Offensively, Rozner has excelled.

"He’s been swinging the bat well all year," Warren said. "He’s squared some balls pretty well. The thing I like is he’s been hitting the ball to different parts of the park. He’s not locked in pulling the ball or just hitting the ball away. He’s hitting the ball where it’s pitched and that’s a good sign."

Seniors Matt Powell (infielder) and Ryan Fitzgerald (outfielder) have also been key contributors, Warren said.

John McGillicuddy, Hough, Powell and Wislocki are team captains.

Woodson will travel to face Lake Braddock on April 26, at 6:30 p.m.