Baseball coaches have faint hope to play some games after the pandemic

Lord Botetourt’s Thomas Mougin

The Lord Botetourt and James River baseball teams were scheduled to be off for spring break next week, but instead they’re off until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both teams were hoping to have good years. The Cavaliers had five starters returning from last year’s 15-8 team, including Roanoke College bound senior Brae Farrell. Other seniors who are missing their final season at LB include Thomas Mougin, Luke Hale, Cody Camper and Hunter Ponce.

“I’ve been texting the guys every now and then just keeping them updated on what’s going on and what I know, which isn’t a lot,” said LB coach Todd Smith. “Just like everyone else, my heart goes out to the seniors. So sad there’s a chance they never get to play high school ball again. I also hate it for the underclassmen, as many of them were ready to step into new roles and get some notoriety for themselves.”

The VHSL hasn’t ruled out a chance to play some kind of tournament in the summer, and Smith would welcome that.

“I do think we have a chance at playing some type of round robin region and then state tourney this year,” he said. “It isn’t a big chance, but since the VHSL didn’t completely shut the door, I’ll always be optimistic. I don’t know how it could work with schools being closed, but who knows. Fingers crossed.”

Photos by Brian Hoffman
Chase Oberg of James River and Mougin are among the seniors who are missing out on their final high school season.

James River coach Matt Gouker has seven seniors on the roster; Garrett Aaron, Kevin Austin, Dyllan McAllister, Chase Oberg, Ryan Pugh, Kevin Theimer and Hunter Wilson.

I’m trying to stay in touch with my players through an app called Teamapp,” said Gouker. “The last couple of messages have been videos to let them know the info that I need out.”

Matt is also hoping to be able to get in some games, but not overly optimistic. 

“At this point, I think it will be a 50/50 chance we get to have something,” he said. “We have plans with another school in the works if we do have a season. Whether we get to those plans, we will see.

“Our coaching staff felt really good about our team this year and we continue to be disappointed that we did not or may not see the potential of this squad. Most importantly, we also recognize that their health and safety is priority number one.”

Matt and his wife Miranda are both coaches at James River. 

“As a teacher, we have continued to work our normal business hours,” he said. “I have also tried to spend my down time with family. We are trying to spend time with our new daughter and make the best of our situation.”

more recommended stories