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2012 Roanoke Rails Pre-season Preview

Over the past five years, the Roanoke Valley has produced a strong group of talented high school baseball players, Many of those players can now be found on college campuses, plying their trade and representing their university. During the summer months, these top players gather in Roanoke, pool their talents, and hit the diamond as members of the Roanoke Rails.

The Rails are the brainchild of former Roanoke Catholic pitcher Mike Blanchard and his father Dennis, who, created the team to provide a playing vehicle for local college talent. A member of the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League, based in North Carolina, the Rails play ball clubs from North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee during their doubleheader-heavy fifty plus game schedule.

The 2012 edition of the Roanoke Rails will feature a distinct local flavor.  The Carolina Virginia Collegiate League summer team which begins its fourth season on May 26, offers a long list of diamond stars who honed their craft in the Roanoke Valley.  Newcomers will include 2011 Timesland Player of the Year Tyler Duke (James Madison/ James River HS) and 2010 Timeland Player of the year Craig Hoelzer (Johns Hopkins/North Cross).  James Madison hurlers, and former Northside teammates, Trent Cundiff and Pat Arnold will also join the Rails providing a potent one-two punch to Coach Matt Cox’s revamped pitching staff.

Like Cundiff and Arnold, the Rails will field several pairing of high school teammates including: outfielder Lincoln Evans (Lynchburg College/Botetourt HS) and high school senior slugger, Dylan Powers (Botetourt HS),  ODAC Freshman of the Year, pitcher Zach Whitaker (Hampden-Sydney) and former Patrick Henry catcher Will Kaufman of Division II power California University of Pennsylvania, pitcher Aaron Stidham (Hampden-Sydney) and third baseman Jacob Clifton (Roanoke College) of William Byrd, along with the aforementioned Duke and outfielder Andrew Tucker (Hampden Sydney) of James River High School.

First year players, infielder Nick Colliver (Patrick Henry CC/Franklin County HS), pitcher Tyler Grouten (Roanoke College) and infielder/outfielder Alex Stepp (Roanoke College/Salem HS) will join a strong returning cast highlighted by ODAC stars Mark Manthe (Roanoke College/Blacksburg HS) and Eric Houff (Emory & Henry/Blacksburg HS). Houff’s Emory and Henry teammates Brandon Lucas (Auburn HS)and Blake Camarillo (Roanoke Catholic) will reunite with 2011 Rails field mates  pitchers Carter Brown (VA Tech Club/James River, Richmond) Zach Folger (Roanoke College/ Jefferson Forest HS), Ryan Anderson (Bryan University/Roanoke Valley Christian) and Roanoke College catcher Nick Spulati (Blacksburg HS) .

A group of selected college players complete the Rails roster including Outfielder Andrew DeLuca (Adrian College) who returns from the 2011 team, new additions;  infielder D.J.Russ (Emory  & Henry),  catcher Ronald Loy (Glenville State), and switch-hitting outfielder Kendal Fowler (Walters CC) from Mountain View High School in Stafford, Virginia.

The Roanoke Rails home games are played at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Virginia and admission is free to the public.

For further information please contact Jon Kaufman (540-819-8040).

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