Nansemond-Suffolk Academy's new Head of Upper School Mike King throws the first pitch of a Peninsula Pilots game, and NSA's mascot observes on Thursday as part of the NSA Night at the Pilots festivities at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton. (Photo Submitted by Ashley Greene)
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy's new Head of Upper School Mike King throws the first pitch of a Peninsula Pilots game, and NSA's mascot observes on Thursday as part of the NSA Night at the Pilots festivities at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton. (Photo Submitted by Ashley Greene)

Fun at the ballpark

Published 9:10pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

NSA hits the Coastal Plains League

For the second year in a row, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy head baseball coach David Mitchell opened up a relaxing opportunity for NSA families to spend a summer night at the ballpark, watching good college baseball and raising the profile of the school.

In the summer, Mitchell serves as a coach with the Hampton-based Peninsula Pilots in the Coastal Plains League. NSA spectators are given a decent shot at seeing some good baseball, because the CPL is a professional development league designed to help elite college players get to the majors. It also helps Major League Baseball draftees boost their value prior to being signed, as it did for Suffolk’s Josh Henderson last year.

NSA Community Relations Coordinator Tracie Thorndike worked with Mitchell to make Thursday the NSA Night at the Pilots. Though rain came in the fifth inning and postponed the remainder of the game to another day, families had already been treated to a pleasant evening.

“It’s a great night, both last year and this year,” she said. “We had a lot more families that showed up this year.”

Thorndike had a table set up at War Memorial Stadium, where she gave away about 100 NSA ball caps, free water and other “goodies and giveaways.”

The Pilots’ game against the Edenton Steamers got off to a Saints-flavored start when new Head of Upper School Mike King threw out the first pitch of the game.

“We thought that it would be very apropos to have him (do it), since a lot of people are just getting to know him,” Thorndike said. “And he’s a huge baseball fan.”

Mitchell said NSA mascot Bernie even got in on the fun.

“Bernie got to run around with the Pilots mascot, Slyder, and shake hands and give high fives,” he said.

NSA rising junior Patrick Suttle has distinguished himself by announcing games for Saints varsity baseball, as well as girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball, which he enjoys. Thursday brought an exciting new opportunity for him.

“He actually got to go up in the press box and announce the second inning,” Mitchell said. “That was fun listening to him do that.”

Mitchell said other Nansemond-Suffolk students have been participating in day-to-day activities with the Pilots. Rising junior Toby Buchanan is the team’s full-time bullpen catcher, and “numerous players come out and do some workouts for home games over at the Pilot’s stadium.”

The desire to recognize these student-athletes helped give Mitchell the idea for the event last year. He said the other motivator was giving NSA families from Hampton and all over the chance to “to come out before summer ends and kind of a have a good all-American-style evening at the ballpark. Get a hot dog, popcorn, nachos and sit back and watch a good college baseball game.”

“A majority of our baseball players and their families came out,” he said.

Thorndike said the game against the Edenton Steamers was chosen with NSA community members in mind.

“We have a lot of families that are from Edenton, so we thought that would be a good game,” she said.

Mitchell was excited how families from Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, the Western Branch area, Suffolk, as well as Hampton and Newport News come out.

Several NSA administrators were on hand, including Head of School Debbie Russell and the girls’ and boys’ athletic directors, Betty Jean Riddick and T. W. Johnson.

Given the exposure Nansemond-Suffolk got on the night, Thorndike was prepared with materials for anyone interested in learning more about the school.

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