Seasoned NRHS braces for unexpected

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nansemond River High School junior catcher/pitcher Robert Fitzwater is expected to be one of the Warriors’ standouts this year.

Nansemond River High School junior catcher/pitcher Robert Fitzwater is expected to be one of the Warriors’ standouts this year.

Nansemond River High School brings an experienced baseball team into a season full of unknowns.

The Virginia High School League’s realignment takes the Warriors from being a team fighting for post-season life in the Southeastern District to one fighting for that life in the Ironclad Conference against Suffolk and Peninsula opponents.

“It’s a different set of umpires, it’s a different mentality of teams,” NR head coach Mark Stuffel said. “It’s baseball, but it’s a little bit different.”

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While his players know many of their opponents in the Southeastern District, Stuffel said they know far fewer from the conference Peninsula schools — Denbigh High School, Heritage High School and Phoebus High School.

Stuffel said his team will have to overcome the unexpected.

“I don’t mind us playing the same size schools, I just don’t care for how our conference is set up,” he said.

Stuffel’s complaint has nothing to do with the teams in the conference, but rather the lack of consequence to regular season games against those teams.

Every team makes the conference tournament at the end of the season, which Stuffel is fine with. But regional qualification is determined solely by a team’s performance in that tournament, not the regular season during which conference teams play each other twice.

Stuffel said, “If you’re going to play everybody twice, there should be a conference champ,” one that is automatically awarded a regional berth based on their regular season success.

The coach expects some regular season success this year, at least in the context of the old Southeastern District. He said the district is strong this year, but also said the 2014 Warriors would be very competitive in the old alignment.

“We’re a well-rounded team this year,” Stuffel said, highlighting his squad’s decent pitching, solid defense and good hitting. They will still be tested against district opponents in non-conference play.

The Warriors went 14-7 overall last season, 11-7 in the district, losing to Western Branch High School in the opening round of the district tournament.

Nansemond River lost six seniors from that team. The Warriors have a similar number of seniors this year, some of which are going to be the team’s standouts.

Senior center field Trevor Riggs is back and has committed to Radford University. He could see at least some time on the mound for Nansemond River this year.

“He’s a very, very good baseball player,” Stuffel said. “He’s a leader on the team.”

A primary contributor on the mound will be senior Mike Parmentier.

“If he does what he can do, he should have a pretty good year,” Stuffel said.

Parmentier can also swing the bat well and is a utility player when he is not on the mound. His non-pitching services may be required, initially, to fill in for senior second baseman Chase Williams, who broke his finger and will be out for at least three weeks.

Stuffel said two transfers, who are good, also bolster the senior class, including Shane McCaw from Lakeland High School and Shane Woods from Alliance Christian Academy.

Also expected to shine for the Warriors are junior shortstop Kieton Rivers and junior catcher/pitcher Robert Fitzwater.

The Warriors, additionally, have some quality underclassmen who are fighting for spots, including sophomore outfielders Wil Davis, Corey Fago and Dion Jordan.

“We’ve got a good mix of the young and the old,” Stuffel said.

Nansemond River starts the regular season on Tuesday against visiting Grassfield High School.