Fitzwater, Nichols are top spring athletes
Published 4:19 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015
Remarkable play on the baseball diamond and the soccer field gained further recognition through this year’s male and female Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Spring Players of the Year.
Drawing the accolades were Nansemond River High School senior baseball star Robert Fitzwater and King’s Fork High School sophomore soccer standout Cydney Nichols.
“We’re proud of them, and we’re proud of all the athletes in the community,” said Duke Automotive vice president Eley Duke, following the award presentation ceremony held at his dealership on Thursday.
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“Our congratulations to Robert Fitzwater and Cydney Nichols,” said Suffolk News-Herald publisher John Carr. “These young athletes have much to be proud of this year, and we look forward to hearing about more of their achievements in years to come. We also want to thank Duke Chevrolet, whose partnership makes these awards possible.”
Fitzwater was outstanding for the Warriors (18-5) at the plate, on the mound and in the infield, where he spent time playing first, second and third base.
In 64 at-bats this season, he had a batting average of .531 and a slugging percentage of .953. He had 34 hits, including 17 singles, 12 doubles and five home runs. He registered 28 runs batted in, only struck out three times all year and had an on-base percentage of .610.
In 47 innings pitched, he had a record of 7-2, threw 66 strikeouts and had an earned run average of 1.49.
In 92 innings as a fielder, he had only one error.
“I feel very accomplished,” Fitzwater said of his senior year. “I feel like I’ve put hard work all season long in school and out and just feel like I’ve really accomplished a lot of things.”
His on-field performance led to his being named the 2015 Ironclad Conference baseball Player of the Year. He also made the all-conference first team as both a pitcher and a utility player.
Receiving all the accolades “just makes me strive to proceed to do better in life, just keep on going forward in baseball,” Fitzwater said.
Alluding to the balance all student-athletes must successfully strike, his parents drew attention to what he accomplished both on the field and in the classroom.
“On the field is awesome, because he puts a lot of work into it, but the biggest pat on the back to me is to see him graduate, move on to the next level,” Gilbert Fitzwater said.
“He’s worked hard, and he’s come a long way,” Christy Fitzwater said. “He strives to make himself better. That’s a big thing with Robert is that he really does work hard to make himself better and to grow, not just with baseball, but with school work and all that stuff. And as a parent, you can’t be any prouder than that.”
Cydney Nichols played in every game this season for the Lady Bulldogs, helping them go 14-4 by producing 33 goals and 16 assists.
In many instances, she helped her team to victory by scoring all of its goals in a game, and this was the case more than once against some of the best opponents her team faced. She scored both goals in a 2-1 overtime victory against Grassfield High School, the first in King’s Fork history.
She also recorded a hat trick in the Lady Bulldogs’ 3-2 win over Tabb High School.
Of her sophomore soccer season, Nichols said, “I think it went great, I really do.”
She did not have any particular expectations for herself coming into the season.
“Just like my freshman year, I went in, and I played the best I could and did what I could for my teammates,” she said. “And it paid off.”
Her performance made her the clear choice for Ironclad Conference girls’ soccer Player of the Year, and she made the all-conference first team.
“It excites me for next year,” she said of all the awards she has accumulated. “I’m going to work hard, I’m going to work hard in the summer and see if we can go to states next year.”
Reflecting with his wife on what their daughter accomplished this season, Overton Nichols said, “It’s kind of amazing, it is really. It’s a combination of hard work, dedication and just involvement from her parents — us — and coaches and the teammates and the school.”
“I would say that we’re extremely proud of her, just extremely proud,” said Damita Boney-Nichols.