With a senior-heavy roster and plenty of experience to draw from, the Summit baseball team hopes it has a district championship formula. But in order to accomplish their title dreams, the Jaguars will have to unseat crosstown rivals Legacy, who took home the 15-4A trophy in 2013.
“Legacy ran away with the district last year, and you’ve got to say with what they’ve got coming back they’re the favorite,” Jaguars coach Chris Peacock said. “After that, I think you’ve got a lot of [teams] that are very similar and definitely in the mix. I think Lake Ridge will be much improved. It’s a very competitive district.”
Summit, which lost in the second round of the playoffs last season, features a roster of 10 seniors, many of them lettermen.
“We’re still pretty senior-heavy. A lot of the guys have been on varsity for multiple years. So we still have a lot of experience with a few new guys mixed in,” Peacock said. “This is a senior class that we’ve been excited about since they were freshmen. They’ve been a good group all the way through and have been contributors for a long time. This is kind of their year to shine.”
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Among those seniors are shortstop Anthony Montalvo, pitcher/second baseman Drew Montoya; center fielder Creighton Eldridge, Christian Vandergrift in left field, utility player Ross Roark, and Dustin Miller, who pitches and plays first base, as well as twins Sam and Max Durland, who have played at the varsity level since they were freshmen.
“We have a lot of guys who’ve been up here a while, so it’ll be easier for us to teach the young guys how to adjust to the speed of the game,” Max Durland said.
Underclassmen expected to contribute this season are juniors Scott Sorenson and Hunter Todd, and sophomores Alex Palmer and Braden Nolen, who started at quarterback for the Jaguars football team this past fall.
With its foundation largely in place, it would stand to reason that Summit would get off to a good start, and players and coaches feel they’ve done that.
“So far we’ve been hitting well,” Montoya said. “We’ve been stroking it and our defense has looked really good. Every pitcher has been hitting his spots, so if we just keep that up I think we’ll be pretty good this season.”
“I knew we’d be good defensively and pitching, but I was worried about hitting,” Miller added. “I didn’t think we’d be as strong hitting-wise, but as the games have gone on, we’ve been better and better at the plate.”
All this adds up to high expectations for the Jags, but that’s nothing new at Summit.
“Expectations for us are always high,” Peacock said. “We don’t necessary put a number on it, but we just want to go out and play as hard as we can play and continue to build on what we’ve done the last couple of years and get better every single year. The guys have worked hard in the offseason to make this a special season.”
With so many seniors, it’s the last opportunity for most of the team to make its lasting mark, and they know that.
“That’s basically our senior goal right now, to get a district championship before we leave,” Montoya said. “On top of that, we’d like to get a state championship, but right now we’re just trying to focus on getting a district title and being undefeated in district.”
Peacock won’t make any explicit predictions, but does feel good about his team’s chances for success this season.
“When it’s all said and done, and we put our best team out, I think we have a chance to be pretty good.”