Baseball

Prep Notebook: William Byrd’s baseball coach stepping down

Prep Notebook: William Byrd's baseball coach stepping down

Like most of the individuals who have coached in William Byrd’s baseball program over the past 40 years, Neil Zimmerman was helped along by former Terriers coaches.

Now Zimmerman is one.

Zimmerman has resigned after seven years as Byrd’s head coach, departing after a season that saw the Terriers reach the Region 3D final before dropping a close game at Abingdon.

Zimmerman said it was a difficult decision to leave the Byrd job where former head coaches such as Gary Walthall, Rodney Spradlin, Gene Riggs and Chris Carr maintained varying levels of contact with the program.

Zimmerman said longtime assistant coach Doug Pence also is leaving the program after helping for parts of five decades.

“It gets in your blood,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a hard place to totally walk away from. A lot of people are still involved. We kind of look out for each other, help each other out, help the program out.

“That’s what makes it kind of special. I hope to help the next guy out, but I don’t want to get in his way. If I could help with alumni guys and booster activities, I would relish that opportunity.”

Zimmerman said he is looking forward to the opportunity to follow his children’s athletic careers.

“My two daughters play three sports: basketball, soccer and volleyball,” he said. “My oldest daughter is playing volleyball, rec soccer and travel softball all at the same time.

“I missed out on stuff like that their whole life. This is my 16th year [coaching]. They don’t know anything but ‘Dad the coach.’ ”

Zimmerman will represent Byrd on Aug. 14 as one of the coaches in the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame’s game for 2021 high school seniors at Haley Toyota Field.

Led by pitchers Tyler Dean and Isaac Fix — a pair of Division I signees — Byrd finished 11-4 this spring with a season-ending 2-1 loss to Abingdon when Dean allowed just one hit in six innings.

“We were one hit away from winning that game. We just couldn’t drive in that run.”

LB’s Prince commits to VMI baseball

When it came time for Lord Botetourt baseball standout Owen Prince to pick a college, he kept it in the family.

The rising senior catcher chose VMI, where his father, Bobby, played basketball for the Keydets in the 1990s.

Prince picked VMI over offers from James Madison and Longwood.

“I like the staff. I went and toured the school. It just felt right,” he said. “I thought long and hard about it, slept on it a lot. It felt like home. When it was time to make my decision, I was happy.”

Prince said he was recruited to play catcher and outfield at VMI, which finished 18-29 in 2021 under head coach Jonathan Hadra.

Prince batted over .400 in Lord Botetourt’s abbreviated spring season and has been a mainstay with Team Virginia on the travel circuit.

“He’s my best catcher, but he can play any position,” Botetourt coach Todd Smith said. “He’s played shortstop, center field and pitched. Any position, he’s played it and played it well.”

Liberty’s Cunningham picks Grace for track

Recent Liberty graduate Crishaun Cunningham has signed with the track and field program at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Cunningham placed third in the 100 meters in the VHSL Class 3 outdoor championships in June with a time of 10.98 seconds.

Grace has dual membership in the NAIA and National Christian College Athletic Association.

The Lancers won the 2021 NCCAA men’s outdoor national title. They placed 18th in the NAIA national meet, earning All-American status in three events.

Ex-Bassett, PC coach named Rockbridge AD

Rockbridge County High has hired former Bassett and Patrick County boys basketball coach Adam Haynes as its athletic director.

Haynes replaces Mike Gale, who spent one year at Rockbridge as the Wildcats’ AD and boys basketball coach. Gale is now the girls basketball coach at Fort Defiance.

Haynes, 45, coached at Bassett for six seasons from 2014-19 and for five at Patrick County. His wife was in the first graduating class at Rockbridge County.

The Wildcats still need a boys basketball head coach.

Is Haynes a candidate for the job?

“We haven’t talked about that,” he said. “My primary focus is to do the best job I can with the one I’ve got.”

 

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