2021 Preview: Strasburg Express

Organizational Details

  • Last VBL Title: 2016, in year two of back-to-back titles. The Express are almost always in the hunt for the Jim Lineweaver Trophy, as the club has made the finals in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019.
  • General Manager/Recruiter: Parker Neal
  • Head Coach: G.W. Laase: 2021 will be Laase’s first year at the helm of the Express, but he is no stranger to the league. He played for Staunton in 2003, and returned as head coach of Staunton from 2013 to 2017. He was assistant head coach at Harrisonburg in 2018 and 2019 as well.
  • Key Alumni: Josh Green (2016), Zach Peek (2017), Keegan James (2016), LT Struble (2017- just promoted to Triple-A)

2019 Recap

strasburg_express_logoThe 2019 Express clinched the North Division with two days left in the regular season, and finished one game ahead of Woodstock with a record of 26-16 (the second best regular season record in club history). Strasburg swept Winchester in round one, with scores of 8-4 and 10-8. Fans were treated to an epic semi-finals against Woodstock in round two, with Strasburg getting hammered in game one, 18-7, but fighting back to win game two, 4-3, and the instant classic game three, 11-10, when Brandon Henson beat out a double-play throw at first as the winning run crossed the plate in the bottom of the 9th. The magical run ended for the Express in the finals, as Charlottesville won both games, game one 11-8, and game two 4-1. The team MVP was Sonny DiChiara (Samford), team Cy Young was Mason Kenney (Furman, now at Troy), and the team “Glue Guy” was Bryson Horne (Columbus State, now with the Atlanta Braves!).

Returners

Key Hitters

(Stats are through Wednesday, May 26)

  • Graham Crawford (Pearl River CC- committed to Alabama)- .333 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.
  • Ty Hooks (Winthrop) is crushing the ball this spring- .343 with five doubles and a 20/18 BB/K ratio in 137 at-bats.
  • Mac McCroskey (Eastern Oklahoma State to Oral Roberts)- he’s hitting a whopping .409/.493/.614 in 176 at-bats, with 12 doubles, three triples, six home runs, and 10 stolen bases.
  • Irvine is hitting .312/.409/.398 in 93 at-bats, with five doubles.
  • Tripp McKinlay (St.John’s River State)- .322/.372/.475 in 177 at-bats, with nine doubles and six home runs.
  • Chad Fairey (Clemson): Redshirted in 2021 because of injury, but he’s healthy and ready to go.
  • JJ Sousa (St.John’s River State): Laase called him a “Hidden gem” who will be an impact player- hitting .347/.432/.545 with 19 doubles in 176 at-bats.
  • Cam Clonch (East Carolina)- he’s 4-12 this spring for a very good ECU team.
  • Mac Starbuck (Clemson)

Key Pitchers

  • Rhett Lowder (Wake Forest): Will most likely be the anchor of the staff, has started 12 games this spring, and struck out 78 batters in 67 2/3 innings.
  • Donovan Burke (JMU)- 38 K’s in 33 innings for the Dukes this spring.
  • Braden Ostrander (Florida Atlantic): Could also be a #1 starter- Has 18 K’s in 16 innings, mostly in relief, this spring.
  • Jem Sisco (Thomas Jefferson)- has a whopping 50 K’s in 34 innings this spring (in eight starts).
  • Daniel Ouderkirk (West Virginia): Local to the Valley (went to Spotswood High School), he’s a 6-foot-9 righthander.

Other Notes

  • The team has three local guys coming so far: Ouderkirk, Irvine, and Burke.
  • Irvine’s father, Daryl, pitched in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox from 1990 to 1992, appearing in 41 games. He also was MVP in the RCBL in 1995 (and played a season with the author of this crazy blog, too).
  • The Express are welcoming the franchise’s first two incoming freshmen this summer- Keegan Allen, a pitcher committed to Oklahoma, and James McCoy, an infielder committed to Kentucky.
  • In the offseason, Laase is a teacher at Staunton High School (oh- and he referees basketball games, too!).

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