Wake Forest is not traditionally a school that sends many players in the Valley League. In fact, from 1994 to 2019, a span of 27 seasons, 38 Demon Deacons were listed under the school banner- coming out to less than one a half per season. (The most decorated player from Wake would be Mac Williamson, a Harrisonburg Turk in 2011, who eventually played parts of five seasons for the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners.)
In 2021, however, Head Coach Tom Walter sent seven players to the Valley League; two each to Charlottesville, Strasburg, and New Market, and one to Harrisonburg. Most of them had outstanding summer experiences, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more made their way up from Winston-Salem in the future.
At any rate, the 2022 WF team is an excellent 13-3 at the moment, and at least one baseball writer- D1baseball’s Aaron Fitt– believes that they have the pieces to contend in the ACC.
So let’s take a look at the “Valley League Seven.” (In alphabetical order)
- Pierce Bennett (Charlottesville) is hitting .400/.500/.500 in 50 at-bats, with 16 runs scored, two doubles, one home run, eight RBIs, and nine walks against five strikeouts. Bennett hit .322/.456/.471 in 87 at-bats for Charlottesville in ’21, along with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, nine stolen bases, and a ridiculous 18/3 BB/K. I named him the 12th best hitter in the league.
- Adam Cecere (Charlottesville) is slashing .345/.414/.569 in 58 at-bats, with 12 runs, one double, four home runs, 21 RBIs, and 7/14 BB/K. He was in the VBL for about half of the summer; he hit .361/.473/.607 in 61 at-bats, with three doubles, four home runs, 13 runs scored, and 19 RBIs.
- Derek Crum (Harrisonburg) has appeared in eight games, all in relief, covering 11 1/3 innings. He’s 1-0, 1.59, with four walks, 11 K’s, and .194 OBA. On the mound last summer, Crum went 1-0, 5.10, with 22 strikeouts in only 12 1/3 innings.
- Seth Keener (New Market) is 2-1, 4.77 in 11 1/3 innings as well; he has two walks and 12 K’s. Keener went 1-1, 6.07 in 13 1/3 innings for New Market, along with 11 walks and 20 strikeouts.
- Rhett Lowder (Strasburg) has won all four of his starts; he’s 4-0, 1.93, with nine walks and 29 K’s in 23 1/3 innings this spring. Lowder was my top starter from 2021 after going 2-0, 2.36 in 19 innings, with only two walks and 27 strikeouts.
- Reed Mascolo (New Market) has started two games and relieved in three. He’s 1-0, 1.59 in 11 1/3 innings, with five walks and 12 K’s. Mascolo was named the 2021 Pitcher of the Year after going 4-1, 2.85 in 34 2/3 innings, with 16 walks and 42 strikeouts. I named him the 6th best starter from the summer.
- Crawford Wade (Strasburg) has appeared in five games, all in relief. He’s 0-0, 1.50 in six innings, with two walks and six K’s. Wade appeared in 11 games in the regular season, going 0-2, 9.17 in 17 2/3 innings, with eight walks and 20 strikeouts. I got a chance to talk to Crawford a bit in the playoffs; he helped me out with food recommendations in Strasburg… and shouted “Free bird!” at his teammates quite a bit.