Virginia Tech’s club baseball team is set for another great season following the first national championship in school history.
The team, which is one of 29 club sports at the university, lifted the trophy at the 2021 National Club Baseball Association World Series in Pittsburg, Kansas, last June.
Junior pitcher Braden Huebsch pitched a perfect game against Iowa State in the final game, winning 6-0 to claim the title. The perfect game earned him co-MVP honors and bragging rights to fellow MVP pitcher Skylar Petry.
“After the pile of dogs, Skylar [Petry] came and found me immediately and I might have insisted a little bit that I threw a perfect game right after his hit,” laughed Huebsch.
A combination of competitiveness and camaraderie fueled the Hokies’ championship chase, earning the school its first national title. Missing a chance to compete for the title the previous year added extra motivation.
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“Before the start of the season, we always talked about how if COVID-19 hadn’t cut short our season last year, we would have [won the national championship]”, Petry said. “We were confident in the group of guys we had. Everyone on this team is an absolute stud. We kept saying that and we just hoped to have a season. and not just talking and going back to what we said we were going to do was pretty crazy.
The Hokies faced another hurdle in their championship season last year: raising money for the trip to Kansas. The club needed to raise $8,000 to complete the 900-mile trip and received enough money through donations to do so. In addition to funding the trip, Virginia Tech’s fan base was able to show their support during the tournament, cheering on the Hokies in person and online.
“Once we got there, everyone in the stands cheered us on, and if you go back and look at the Facebook videos, there were a ton of our fans watching and commenting on all of our games,” Huebsch said. . . “I went back and watched some of them and it’s really cool to see.”
The party didn’t stop there for the Hokies. The team held a banner unveiling ceremony before their game against Coastal Carolina in November. Fans and players’ families were invited to the ceremony to commemorate the team’s national championship.
“It was good to be recognized,” senior receiver Kyle Eagle said. “The VT club office did a great job with the banner and the marketing department as well. It was just great to see former players and old parents. We had parents of kids who graduated last year and came back to town for the [unveiling] and it was just awesome to celebrate once again with everyone who may not have been able to make it to Kansas or attended last year [team].”
The club welcomes nine new faces for the 2022 season, including six senior classes. With eight of the nine players Tech started in the championship game against Iowa State returning, the new additions should provide additional depth as the team seeks to defend its title. Center fielder Joseph Rutherford, who graduated last spring, is the only starter who won’t return.
Virginia Tech begins its quest to win back-to-back titles against Virginia in Charlottesville on February 19. The Hokies’ spring schedule includes home meetings with Longwood, James Madison and William and Mary, as well as a trip to College Park to take on Maryland. Tech will also travel to Panama City Beach on March 6 for the Swing into Spring tournament.
Fans can donate to the club at vtclubbaseball.weebly.com.
– Written and submitted by Jack Brizendine