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After leading Lafayette’s baseball team to its first state championship in program history, Rams head coach Rick Schenk was named Group 3A Coach of the Year.
Lafayette also had two players – outfielder Luc Lipcius and utility player Daniel Blankinship – named as second-team All-State selections.
And while Schenk was honored to receive Coach of the Year honors, he did take exception to some of the voting results with regards to how his players were recognized.
“It’s a great honor, but I didn’t do it by myself,” Schenk said. “I wasn’t happy to learn that none of my guys earned first-team All-State honors. We wouldn’t have done what we did without some of those guys being [first-team] All-State, because it definitely wasn’t all me.”
Lipcius finished second in batting average (.380) for Lafayette and drove in 21 runs, which is tied for a team high with his brother Andre. Lipcius recorded an on-base percentage of .464 and struck out only six times all season. He also led the team with 16 stolen bases.
“He was very focused. He wasn’t swinging at bad pitches. A lot of the time he was pitching around him and a lot of teams pitched around him,” Schenk said of Luc Lipcius. “He knew he had to get on base to allow the three and four hitters to bring him in. Most of the time he didn’t get good pitches to swing at.”
Schenk also alluded to Lipcius’ potential to play baseball beyond the college level and work his way through professional farm systems.
“He’s got the height, he’s got the arm and he’s got the speed,” he said of Lipcius. “He’s capable of doing a lot of things and I’m not just talking college.”
Blankinship, Lafayette’s top pitcher, earned All-State honors as a utility player. As a pitcher, Blankinship posted a 5-2 record with a 2.18 ERA.
As a batter, Blankinship displayed an impressive ability to get on base despite holding a .294 batting average. The senior drew 15 walks and struck out four times in 88 plate appearances, which helped lead to a .432 on-base percentage.
“He played whatever position I needed for him to play,” Schenk said. “I could have pitched him nine or 10 games this year, but I didn’t. That’s why he was selected, in my opinion, second-team All-State. He batted for me, played second base and third base for me.”
In Schenk’s mind, this year’s state-championship team could be surpassed talent-wise by next year’s group. It is a bold statement to make this soon removed from a state title, but Schenk believes his Rams will be in the same position next season.
“I’ve got nine or 10 returning guys. They might not have been a starter, but they played,” Schenk said of next year’s group. “Next year we should be even stronger than we were this year. That whole team of mine played throughout that state tournament. I had a core group that played every inning, but the rest of the team was important and got to see playing time.”
Below are the All-State selections:
Player of the Year: Jack DeGroat, senior, Loudoun Valley
Coach of the Year: Rick Schenk, Lafayette
Pitcher: Jack DeGroat, senior, Loudoun Valley
Pitcher: Noah Murdock, junior, Colonial Heights
Pitcher: Reid Merrikan, senior, Kettle Run
Catcher: Keegan Woolford, senior, William Monroe
First Base: John Page, senior, Monticello
Second Base: Seth Markins, senior, Colonial Heights
Third Base: Steve Mangrum, senior, Western Albemarle
Shortstop: Dean Hermanson, senior, William Byrd
Outfielder: Kendall Shelton, senior, Tunstall
Outfielder: Ashton King, senior. Christiansburg
Outfielder: Henry Kreinbaum, senior, Western Albemarle
Outfielder: Brenton Doyle, senior, Kettle Run
Designated Hitter: Dylan Wray, senior, Tunstall
Utility: JD Mundy, junior, Northside
Pitcher: Trent Abernathy, junior, Turner Ashby
Pitcher: Spencer Hoyt, junior, Staunton River
Pitcher: Brenan Hanifee, junior, Turner Ashby
Catcher: John Colliton, senior, Rockbridge County
First Base: Tyler Johnson, senior, Kettle Run
Second Base: Jacob Knight, senior, Rustburg
Third Base: Andrew Lohr, senior, Loudoun Valley
Shortstop: Hayden Lilek, junior, Kettle Run
Outfielder: Luc Lipcius, junior, Lafayette
Outfielder: Kyle Bowles, senior, Loudoun Valley
Outfielder: Sam Urban, senior, Loudoun Valley
Outfielder: Scott Ellis, senior, Staunton River
Designated Hitter: Cody Spencer, junior, William Monroe
Utility: Daniel Blankinship, senior, Lafayette