NSA takes home opener

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s baseball team won its home opener on Saturday against Covenant, emerging on top 7-6 in eight innings.

Spring is quickly approaching, which means high school sports shift from indoor back to outdoor. NSA’s first win of the baseball season came against a Covenant team considered to be a powerhouse in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association.

At the end of the seventh inning, the game was tied at 6-6. In the eighth inning, the Saints were able to pull out a quality win for their season opener.

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“We kept telling our guys, ‘Let’s stay process-oriented, and let’s focus on one pitch at a time,’” NSA baseball coach David Mitchell said. “We knew if we stuck to the process, we would have a chance and, sure enough, we saw ourselves in a tied ball game with extra innings. If we continue to do those things, we will compete in a lot of games this year.”

Last year, the Saints finished the season with a record of 17-6. Statistically, they enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history, being ranked in various state polls.

This year’s Saints are relatively fresh. They are returning only two seniors, James Mullen and Mitchell Williams, from last year’s team.

Mullen and Williams are the two captains of the team this year and have been in the program for five years. As seniors, both will be leaned on heavily this year.

NSA hasn’t set lofty goals for this season. With a young team, the Saints are hoping the developmental process is the greater reward.

“We told the guys this year we want to focus on the process and not the outcome,” Mitchell said. “We want to be a more process-oriented team this year, with this group of young men that we have.”

There are, however, statistical goals that will measure the team’s development. They want to lead the league in bases on balls, hit-by pitches, singles, walks by their pitching staff and defensive field percentage.

“We figure if we can accomplish those things, we can find ourselves in ball games against very good teams,” Mitchell said.

“It also takes the pressure off of the guys after coming off an excellent season last year. The last thing we wanted to do was put pressure on a new team, trying to make them live up to last years’ season.”

The strengths of the Saints team this year will be in their pitching system and defense. Mitchell is confident that all the players in their pitching system have a chance to be successful.

NSA will face Highland School at home Saturday, March 11 at 11 a.m.

Covenant 6, NSA 7 (eight innings)

  • Sophomore Zac Morris was 2-3 with a RBI.
  • Junior Robby Tew was 2-4 with a triple and stole home with two outs in the eighth to win it for the Saints.
  • Junior Spencer Salmon had two RBIs with a sacrifice fly and a squeeze bunt.
  • Senior Mitchell Williams scored two runs.
  • Junior Caden Anselm got the win on the mound, pitching the eighth.
  • Five Saints pitchers combined to scatter nine hits, six runs and only one walk in eight innings.  The pitchers were D.J. Minor, Colby Owens, Spencer Salmon, Kieran Conway and Caden Anselm.