NR baseball seniors garner state honors
Published 8:37 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015
Two of the brightest stars on Nansemond River High School’s baseball team in 2015 were recently named to the Virginia High School League Group 4A all-state first team.
Robert Fitzwater was selected by 4A coaches at the pitcher position while also making the second team as a utility player, and shortstop Kieton Rivers drew a first-team selection for the second year in a row. Both players graduated from Nansemond River in June.
Fitzwater was recognized at the state level last year as a pitcher by the Virginia High School Coaches Association, making its all-state second team, but this was his first year to receive any kind of all-state honor from the VHSL, and it was his first year making an all-state first team.
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“I was very excited,” he said of his selection. “I didn’t think I was going to get it because we didn’t make it that far in the regionals, but I was very excited once I found out that I got it.”
Warriors coach Mark Stuffel said Fitzwater was well-deserving of the accolade.
“He had a good year, very good year,” Stuffel said. “I think he was one of the best pitchers in the state, and it’s nice for him to be represented in that way.”
Fitzwater had the key stats that voters are looking for when preparing to classify someone among Virginia’s best.
“His record, (earned run average) and strikeouts are the three things that stick out when you’re looking at that level,” Stuffel said.
In 47 innings pitched this season, Fitzwater went 7-2 with a 1.49 ERA, and he threw 66 strikeouts.
Last year, Kieton Rivers was named to both the VHSCA and VHSL all-state first teams.
He described making the VHSL first team this year as another accomplishment due to the strong field of shortstops in Group 4A, including those from Hanover High School and Glen Allen High School. The former team ended the Warriors’ season in the regional quarterfinals and advanced as far as the state semifinals, and the latter team won the state championship.
“It is an honor, as well, once again to be named all-state shortstop,” Rivers said.
“I thought he was the best shortstop,” Stuffel said. “He had another really good year and was completely deserving again.”
To make the all-state first team two years in a row, Rivers said, “It does mean something special to me because I can leave high school on a good note, a good career.”
Stuffel said he thought voters keyed on both Rivers’ defensive and offensive abilities when considering him for selection at the state meeting.
“A lot of times it comes down to the offensive stats when you’re in meetings like that because that’s what you can see when you haven’t seen the players play,” he said. “He was really good on both sides, defense and offense, though.”
In 21 games at shortstop, Rivers had an .896 fielding percentage.
At the plate this season, he had a .471 batting average with a .912 slugging percentage and a .513 on-base percentage. In 68 at-bats across 21 games, he had 32 hits, including 13 singles, 12 doubles, three triples and four home runs, 31 runs scored, 16 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases.
Rivers will be continuing his baseball career at Coastal Carolina University, and Fitzwater will play for Patrick Henry Community College.