Baseball Season Starts Feb. 4

Virginia Peninsula Community College baseball coach Shane Harrison knows what it will take for a successful 2024 season.

“Make the routine plays routine. Don’t overcomplicate everything. Just play the game,” he said. “If everybody does their job on the field, nothing can go wrong. It’s all about relying on each other.”

The games start Sunday, Feb. 4, with a doubleheader against Allegheny Community College (Pa.) at Heritage High School in Newport News. The first game is scheduled to start at noon. Highlights of the 53-game schedule include games against three of the top nine teams in the NJCAA Division III preseason rankings: Caldwell Community College (N.C.) is ranked fifth, Owens Community College (N.Y.) is sixth, and Paul D. Camp is ninth and coming off an appearance in the 2023 NJCAA College World Series.

“I did not put an easy schedule together,” said Harrison, who was named the head coach in April 2023 after spending one year as the interim head coach and one as an assistant coach.

Harrison is optimistic for a couple of reasons. One is because of how the team performed in scrimmages and practices in the fall.

“We looked good. Everybody was getting a fair shake to see where they might be on the depth chart,” he said. “We were pleasantly surprised by a couple (players) we thought might need a good year of getting bigger, stronger, and faster. They looked good in the fall.”

The team’s depth is another reason for optimism.

“A strength is definitely our numbers. We’re up about 12 guys from last year,” he said.

He has 32 players on his roster and plans to keep all of them. He would like to grow the program to about 50, which he said most schools have.

“We’re still not where we need to be but we’re getting there,” he said. “Every year, our numbers are moving up, which is great. And we’re getting kids from different states. The word’s out that we’ve got something special going on here.”

With 15 pitchers on the roster and another two who can pitch and play the field, that should be a strength, too.

“Our pitching staff looks great,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of arms.”

While he likes the number of players, he is concerned about having only two catchers.

“That’s a grueling position,” he said. “To have two with our 53 games we have scheduled right now, we’ve got to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have any injuries there.”

On the positive side, he said the two catchers, Gavin Price, and Caleb Gonzalez, are talented.

“Both are really, really good catchers,” he said. “They call a good game and take control.”

He also believes speed should be a strength.

Just seven players are back from last year, but several are redshirts, so it’s their third year playing college ball.

“We’re very, very young,” he said. “We had two, that when they got here in August, they were still 17. … But the guys that are back, they are being great leaders.”

Among them are shortstop Logan Dees, first baseman Blake Harrison (the coach’s son), pitcher Garrett Hedgepath, and Isiah Bracy.

Harrison is big on creating a family atmosphere, which he said goes a long way in determining success on the field.

“We do a lot of things together outside of baseball,” the coach said. “I tell them you can take a really good team that doesn’t get along and they’re going to be horrible. If you take a mediocre team that’s bonded like a family, they can be something you don’t want to mess with.

“I’m excited.”

For more information on VPCC and its athletics programs, visit