Monday marked the official opening of spring sports for high school teams, and Botetourt County schools will have a busy week of action.
The season opened Monday, and two events kicked things off. The James River girls lost to Salem in soccer, 5-0, and the Lord Botetourt girls dropped a 9-0 tennis match to Glenvar in Roanoke County. Despite the loss, coach Shannon Quinn is optimistic.
“I am very hopeful it will be a solid season,” she said. “The team is made up of half returners and half beginners, so it will be a good season for learning and working together. There is a nice dynamic within the team, which is always a good sign.”
Blake Johnson returns as boys’ coach, and the Cavaliers were scheduled to play at Glenvar on Tuesday, but results were too late for publication. The tennis teams play Salem on Friday with the girls at Salem High and the boys at the Salem Civic Center. Hollins University, the previous home for LB teams, is no longer available to the Cavaliers.
On Tuesday, baseball opened with Patrick Henry at Lord Botetourt and Rockbridge at James River. The Cavaliers will be at E.C. Glass today and host Pulaski County on Friday.
“We are hoping to rely on some past success and experiences from the older guys to spread to the younger guys that will need to contribute,” said LB coach Todd Smith. “We only have five returning starters from last year’s team, but some talented players from the JV team will get valuable experience early in the season.
“For pitching, we don’t really have a dominant arm, but we have eight or nine guys who can throw it pretty good, so hopefully we can play good defense and score enough runs. Offensively we are going to have to string some hits together and get some timely at-bats.”
James River will be back in action on Thursday when the Knights host Salem. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“Our coaching staff is pleased with our progress, and we anticipate success this season,” said coach Matt Gouker. “We are excited about the team, and we see good potential for this season. We feel that we have the grit to win those tough games early and late in the season. We have many players who will contribute to the success of this season and to our program. We hope to feel off of the school spirit that we saw in our winter sports.”
In softball, the James River girls were scheduled to open at Rockbridge. This weekend the Knights are in the 11-team Salem Invitational at the James I. Moyer Complex in Salem. River will play the host Spartans at 7 p.m. Friday night, then take on William Fleming Saturday morning at 11 a.m. There is also a tournament for jayvees, and the River girls will play Salem Friday at 5 p.m. and Halifax County Saturday at 1 p.m.
The LB girls have a new softball coach as Megan DeHart moves from Cheryl Shockley’s assistant to head coach. LB has four seniors, including ace pitcher Rhyann Jones, Gianna Sloan-Lebron, Maddie Carroll, and Lexi Turner. The Cavaliers were scheduled to open in Salem Tuesday, and they’ll be home to Blacksburg Friday.
The LB boys’ soccer team also has a new coach as former Cavalier player Taylor Leonard takes the reins. Botetourt was scheduled to open at Glenvar on Tuesday, then host Brookville tonight. On Friday, the Cavaliers are at Salem.
“We have 13 seniors on our team this year,” said Leonard, who has been an assistant at LB since 2017. “A couple newcomers, but the majority have seen some time on the pitch during their past three years at LBHS. With a strong senior class, that leads to a lot of leadership opportunities, which will help with our chemistry.”
The LB girls have looked good in the preseason and are looking for a strong year under coach Giuseppe D’Arpa.
“Very talented and young team,” he said. “Very fast, will be a fun season to watch.”
The girls are at Brookville tonight and home to what should be a good matchup with Salem on Friday. The Spartans shut out James River in the season opener for both on Monday, 5-0.
“We have a young team this year,” said River girls’ coach Bill Smith. “For half the girls, this is their first high school soccer season. I am encouraged by the spirit of the team and the quality of play I have seen so far in practice. We may have a few bumps along the way, but this will be a good year.”
River’s boys’ soccer team won’t open until next Monday, March 21, with a home game against Rockbridge.
“I’m excited about how our team is coming together,” said coach Jared Whiting. “I think we are overall very balanced and have great chemistry. We were strong contenders last year, and I feel we will be stronger this year, rostering 12 Seniors and eight Juniors, most of whom have played together for years. We looked really good in our scrimmage with a few minor things to work out before regular-season starts.”