Gross to be a Mountaineer

April 29, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Frederick senior Billy Gross has already had a season to remember. On Wednesday, Gross enjoyed a day he likely will never forget.

Gross, who has led the Cadets to a 13-1 record and the top spot in The Herald-Mail baseball poll, cashed in by signing a letter of intent to play for West Virginia University next school year.

"They gave me an offer that was pretty hard to turn down," said Gross, who will receive a full scholarship. "I've been up there a couple of times and really liked what I saw. The facilities are amazing, and it's the Big East Conference."


"(West Virginia) has been doing great and that's certainly exciting for Billy to get the privilege to play college baseball," Frederick coach Phil Rhodes said. "It's an exciting time for Billy, his family and those of us in the Frederick baseball community."

Rhodes is 5-0 with a 0.58 ERA and has struck out 53 in 36 innings of work so far this season. He's been pretty handy with a bat, too - he's hitting .490 with eight doubles - but it's his work on the mound that has drawn the most attention.

"The velocity has certainly jumped out. He tops off at 91 for us, and he's currently throwing consistently at 88," Rhodes said. "The other thing they see that we certainly see is he's a pretty confident pitcher. He knows that he's in control and he just has command of all of his pitches and shows that confidence on the mound. He knows he's the guy to beat."

Now that he's made his decision, Gross is looking forward to helping the Cadets make a deep run in the playoffs.

"I knew as long as I worked hard during the season, someone would pick up on what I've been doing," Gross said. "It's a big burden off my shoulders, and I can relax and go play ball again."

n Walkersville, Md., native David Haller Jr. has signed to play baseball at the University of Tampa, a Division II program.

Haller, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-hander, played for Walkersville High School for part of his junior season last year but decided not to be part of the team this season. He made his impact in summer camps and the Baltimore Metro Fall League.

Wildcats on the prowl

The stranglehold the No. 3 Catoctin and No. 4 Brunswick softball teams had on the rest of the MVAL Antietam Conference this season came to a startling end on Wednesday.

No. 7 Williamsport - which had quietly been playing well and holding steady in third place in the league - made a loud statement with a 6-2 victory over the Cougars. It was Catoctin's first loss in 25 league games since the MVAL expanded into three conferences.

"Catoctin is good, period, and for us to beat them, it has to be a morale booster that even for one game, we can play with a team like that," Wildcats coach Tom Dzur said. "It's given confidence to our kids."

Williamsport has been getting it done with team depth, rather than one or two superstars. Six players are batting better than .300 - Jessica Patey (.425), Beth Ryan (.333), Jessica Bennett (.326), Adrienne Munoz (.326), Emily Huff (.320) and Heather Taylor (.316) - and Catie Vancour (.298) is knocking on the door. The Wildcats can turn to three different pitchers - Bennett, Huff or Courtney Hutchinson - all of whom have logged 20-plus innings and been effective.

"We've been hitting well, the kids are just hitting the ball hard," Dzur said. "(The pitchers) pick each other up. I've used them in relief of others, and they're not discouraged. They know it's a collective effort."

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