2023 Broadway Baseball & Softball Season Preview
by: Ben Elliott
Contrary to Punxsutawney Phil I can’t help but feel like Spring is right around the corner. No, I didn’t see my own shadow, I’ve got a better measure to tell when seasons are upon us.
There is no better measure for the arrival of Spring than the arrival of softball and baseball season.
Just like the previous two seasons, I feel a sort of attachment to the spring season. Maybe it’s the school kid spirit that I still possess, but to me, Spring rings of a sort of loosening up of heavy responsibility for the year. The weather progressively gets better and better, grills start to get uncovered and most importantly, the diamond makes its grand return. Which I put higher on my list of greatest events to occur within the yearly berth of Springtime.
Something about baseball and softball contrasts deeply to the previous sports we’ve discussed on this blog before in previous seasons. The diamond sports have a much more lax feel to them than their hash mark and hardwood counterparts. There is no clock (at least not yet) in between pitches, nothing to signal any sort of rush. You can go to the ballpark and get lost in the games. That laid back attitude and atmosphere gives you something you don’t find with the other sports as an observer in the stands. It also helps that the concession stand isn’t as far away as it might seem to the naked eye.
Warm weather and concession stand talk aside, Broadway Softball and Baseball are back and it’s time to get into our 2023 Spring Season Preview!
Both teams are coming off of playoff appearances yet find themselves at different points so to speak, in their respective journeys. Both teams had their fair share of talent graduate, as is normal for the cycle of high school sports. Both have an influx of young talent ready to play under the lights for the first time with their varsity squad. That experience can be breathtaking at first, but once you get the hang of it, there’s nothing better.
Starting with the Softball team. Head Coach Becky Cantrell is the seasoned leader of the Lady Gobblers program. Cantrell is a real veteran of the game. A no-nonsense, flat out fearless leader, who is the textbook example of how to lead a program. Her team made a playoff appearance in Brookville despite finishing with a record under .500. I know from my limited experience so far here at BHS over the years that playoff experience can go a long way for a young team. The Gobblers, who were young a year ago, will return a now-seasons group of veterans. The Gobblers graduated just two seniors from last year's team, and should return many of the major contributors from the lineup from last season. Emma Morris, who started the season in the circle for the Gobblers, will be a welcome addition after her freshman year was cut short due to injury. With the influx of new faces from last year’s explosive JV squad, the Gobblers will look to compete deep into June. The Lady Gobblers schedule is packed with great opponents that will leave the team battle tested by the time we meet season’s end.
The team will play the usual Valley district foes while making a handful of trips out of the area. A couple of those trips include, Skyline, Fluvanna as well as taking part in an invitational at Brookville High School. The Gobblers open their season on March 13 by hosting Fort Defiance.
When you play 20+ games over the course of a regular season schedule with some hefty travel mixed in along the way, the whole year can feel like a grind by the time you’re finished with it. But with a veteran coach like Cantrell, I expect the team to be right where they want to be come playoff time.
The Baseball team finds themselves with a new man in charge. Head Coach Tim Turner retired this past year after a great stint as Head Coach for the Gobblers. I was lucky enough to be one of the many players that got to play under Coach Turner and I can confidently say that I’ll never forget the many lessons he taught us. Most importantly of which was to always stay even keel which I’ll keep with me as long as I live.
The new head man for the Gobblers is George Laase. Coach Laase previously Coached at Staunton High School and has also spent time Playing and Coaching in the Valley League and the Rockingham County Baseball League. Coach Laase also won the 2021 Valley League Championship as the Manager of the Strasburg Express.
I haven’t known Coach Laase for very long however, it didn’t take long for him to become someone I go and visit regularly after school. Laase is the BASE teacher at BHS, which is a role he’s done a tremendous job in. His room stands as the arena for daily afternoon chess and checkers games which has made his classroom a favorite of mine.
Without further ado let's get into our Baseball portion of our season preview!!
The Baseball schedule will feature the same Valley District rivals as usual with the addition of friend of the blog, Head Coach Jordan Biller’s East Rock high school Eagles. East Rock will be joining the Valley District next season, but will begin a home and home schedule with each team starting this season. Other than the addition of East Rock, the boys will travel to Fluvanna once again, which I must say has become quite a fun rivalry over the past handful of years. The team will also travel to Rappahannock County to take on the Panthers. A trip to Wilson Memorial to clash with the Hornets. Coach Laase and the Gobblers host Fort Defiance on Monday, March 13 to open the 2023 season.
The Gobblers, who finished last season 14-7 and fell to Rustburg in the Region 3C Tournament, will look to replace six seniors from last year’s roster, including Division I Pitcher, Noah Hertzler, who is now playing at William & Mary and four year starter Ryan Anderson and Landen Stuhlmiller as well as Ryan Martin, Cameron Showalter, Brade Smith and Ben Hutcheson. The Gobblers will also welcome back a key member to the 2023 squad as junior Bransen Hensley (Committed to West Virginia) will return after suffering a season-ending injury early last season. Hunter Deavers heads into his senior season coming off a great year last year. Hunter hit over .400 with 14 RBI for Broadway last year. Broadway also returns Sophomore Sy Crider, who, after hitting over .300 in his Freshman season, recently signed to play collegiately at West Virginia. Broadway will also welcome new faces from the JV team to round out the 2023 roster.
I expect great things from each squad. We’ve waited through gloomy winter (weather wise, not sports wise) to finally get to the warm, beautiful weather of a Shenandoah Valley Spring. Softball and Baseball season is upon us and the gang here at the Gobblers Sports Network couldn’t be any more excited about it!
To see the 2023 Spring Sports Broadcast Schedule on the Gobblers Sports Network visit our Baseball/Softball Broadcasts page.
The BHS Baseball Field features a picturesque backdrop that displays the beauty of a Shenandoah Valley Spring.
Photo by: Danny Grogg