Krupp, Markins to lead Colonial Heights
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Mar 11, 2013, 15:51
Colonial Heights High School senior Blake Davis pitches during a scrimmage against Manchester on Friday at Shepherd Stadium. The Colonials will open their regular-season schedule on Tuesday at home against Fredericksburg Christian (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
COLONIAL HEIGHTS – If baseball were blackjack, Brian Holt would be holding the perfect hand.
The fifth-year coach presides over a Colonial Heights High School roster that boasts a bona fide ace in pitcher Mack Krupp and a jack of all trades in catcher David Markins.
But baseball is more akin to poker, meaning the challenge for Holt this season will be coercing a handful – at least a pair – of other players to exceed expectations.
“If I have Mack on the mound and David behind the plate, I feel like we’re as good as anybody in the [Central] District at those two positions,” Holt said following a scrimmage against Manchester at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights on Friday. “I’m also very comfortable with Matt Hettinger in centerfield.
“He’s as good as anybody roaming the outfield, but [pitcher and catcher] are the only two positions that I can definitively say that I don’t think anybody has an advantage over us.”
Krupp, a hard-throwing lefty who will play at Virginia Tech next spring, has been tabbed by many as one of the best pitchers in the Central Region. His partnership with Markins – a stalwart on offense and defense – dates back to Little League.
“It’s a bond that nobody can break,” Krupp said. “Us two, we’re good together.”
Unfortunately for the Colonials, the impact of their marquee battery will likely be lessened by a recent revision of the Virginia High School League’s pitching regulations. The new policy mandates that pitchers be given a minimum of two days rest after throwing between four and seven innings.
Because most district contests take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the addendum will usually prevent Holt from using Krupp – even sparingly – in more than one outing per week.
As a result, Holt said settling on a capable second starter is the team’s foremost priority. Senior Keith Jones, junior Bobby Holleman and freshman Noah Murdock are all candidates for the starting slot, though Jones and Holleman are battling injuries.
“With the new pitching rules, we have to find a way to get through the second game of the week,” Holt said. “I feel pretty good about what we can do one time a week. It’s the same situation as last year. We just have to figure out the second guy.”
Rain-delayed games or other scenarios that force the team to play three games in a week could prove problematic for the short-staffed Colonials.
Holt said he understands and agrees with the logic behind the policy change, but added that it puts smaller schools at a disadvantage. “Everybody is in the same boat,” he said. “But having said that, it’s different for a school with 2,000 kids and nine pitchers to pick from.”
Colonial Heights has the smallest enrollment in the eight-team district, and the numbers quandary has been compounded by a rash of preseason injuries. No fewer than seven Colonials players are dealing with ailments of some variety.
“We have to get healthy,” Holt said.
The rule change and health concerns have done little to quell Krupp’s confidence. “I expect us to be one of the top teams in the district this year,” he said. “I think we have the depth and the talent to compete with the better teams.”
In addition to the senior trio of Krupp, Markins and Hettinger, Holt also highlighted juniors Matt Young and Matt Falls as key returners. He hailed Murdock, junior Zach Stewart and sophomore Seth Markins as promising first-year players.
Seth Markins – David’s younger brother – will be used as a utility infielder. The pair’s older brother, Josh Markins, also played at Colonial Heights before moving on to Virginia State University.
“The Markins family has been good to Colonial Heights,” Holt said.
All things considered, Holt said he’d be pleased if his team manages to finish the season with a winning record. “We have to get 10 wins,” Holt said. “I think the schedule bears out a 10-10 season. Everything above that would be somebody having made a play or done something a little extra.”
The Colonials finished 13-8 in 2012, 10-10 in 2011 and 8-12 in 2010.
As for the district campaign, Holt said the club will go as far as its seven seniors carry it. He hopes their best efforts earn the Colonials a spot in the district tournament at season’s end, but last year’s district coach of the year identified the reigning champions as the preseason frontrunners.
“I have a hunch Matoaca is going to be the one,” Holt said. “Nobody really knows who the best players are, but I think that’s going to be the best team. I think you could probably flip a coin on Prince George and Dinwiddie [for second and third], and I think you could probably flip that same coin on us and Thomas Dale.”