The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

First-years step up as baseball is in full swing

Jonathan French and Andrew Thornton help the Generals baseball team gain momentum as their season heads toward its second half
Generals Sports

After a slow start, superb pitching and a loaded first-year class demonstrate the Generals’ potential as it crosses the halfway point of the 2024 baseball campaign.

Generals baseball began the year with an 11-inning loss at Cap’n Dick Smith Field against Centenary University of New Jersey. Following the loss, the Blue and White responded by winning the next two games of the three-game series, 8-2 and 5-4 respectively.

Following the series victory, Generals baseball dropped a tough game in Lexington to nearby Southern Virginia University, 5-7.

On February 23rd the team traveled to the D3 Baseball Showcase in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where the Generals began their 3-game set with losses versus Berry College and the University of Rochester.

After their 2-4 start, a flip seemed to switch for the Generals. After scoring 11 runs in a victory over Susquehanna University to close out the D3 Showcase, the bats finally came alive. On the way back to Lexington, the Generals hitting continued, putting 16 runs on the board against Greensboro College in North Carolina, to come out victorious.

Back in Virginia, the Generals made it a streak after the offense continued terrorizing pitchers with a 16-2 win over Hampden-Sydney. Over the next 6 games, they went 4-2 dropping a close contest against Hampden-Sydney.

The Generals’ only other loss came against nationally-ranked no. 1 Shenandoah University in extra-innings, where the generals received solid pitching from first-years Cooper Charneco and Sims DeLong.

Over the Generals’ last four games, they have cooled back down, going 2-2, splitting a series against nationally-recognized Randolph-Macon. The Generals got revenge against SVU, beating them 14-0, but lost a shootout in Harrisonburg against Eastern Mennonite University.

Heading into April, the Generals have shown their potential with big contributions from the incoming first-year class. Since starting the year 2-3, Generals baseball has come alive going 8-4 over their last 12. The biggest difference for the Gennies has been their offense, which is averaging 8.75 runs a game in their last 12.

There have been contributions from everybody, but none larger than Jonathan French, ’27. French, a center-fielder from Atlanta, Georgia, started his freshman campaign on the bench. But, on March 11 after batting .857 (6-7) with three runs batted in (RBI), five runs, two walks, and five stolen bases, French was named to his first Old Dominion Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolade. French certainly has provided a much-needed spark for the Generals offense, leading the team in batting average (.395) and stolen bases (15).

French said as the season’s progresses, he’s become more comfortable in his role.

“Early on the transition was hard, but once the season got moving and I settled in it got better.”

He said in college, “pitchers have more movement and location, so it just takes more focus and intent than in high school to succeed.”

French has not been the only first-year to see the ball well this year. Andrew Thornton, a third-basemen from Houston, Texas, has been an everyday starter for the Generals this season. Thornton has started 16 games, hitting .286 with an impressive .840 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS).

First-year additions to the bullpen have made an impact as well. Righty Sims DeLong, ’27, has been impressive all year long. It all came together for DeLong against the no. 1 nationally ranked Shenandoah Hornets, where he went five and two-thirds innings pitched with just two earned runs.

Another righty, Cooper Charneco, ’27, relieved DeLong against Shenandoah and has shown flashes of brilliance with 16 strikeouts on the year. In his first season, Cooper has been able to pitch to his brother, junior Catcher Campbell Charneco.

Raleigh Craft, another first-year righty, has been one of the General’s aces. Through six innings pitched, Craft has allowed 1 earned run, giving him an earned run average (ERA) of 1.42 on the year.

Nathan DeWitte, 27, from Alexandria, Virginia, has been a utility player and pitcher for the Generals. After elbow surgery last spring, DeWitte has come on strong with 3 pitching appearances, highlighted by a win against Randolph-Macon.

Since 2018, Generals baseball is 85-96. With contributions from returners Evan Blair, Nick Lagges, and Campbell Charneco, the Generals enter the second half of their season looking to make a run down the stretch.

That began on Sunday, March 24, with a doubleheader in Lynchburg, Virginia, against defending national champions, the University of Lynchburg Hornets.

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