WINCHESTER, Va. — Even with their first summer in Jefferson County six months away, the Charles Town Cannons of the Valley Baseball League are quickly forming the roster for the team’s initial 44-game season in the well-established league.
The Cannons are moving to Sager Field at Jefferson High School from Luray (Va.) where they were known as the Wranglers.
This will be the first team from Jefferson County to ever play in the Valley Baseball League that has franchises spread throughout the Shenandoah Valley, numbering 12 in all.
Charles Town has sent out 32 contracts to prospective NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, and junior college players and has had 31 of them returned with players’ signatures.
The colleges with the most players returning signed contracts are Alabama State (Division I) with four, Sam Houston State (Division I) with three, Neosho CCC (junior college) with three, Florida International University (Division I) with two, Oklahoma State (Division I) with two, Liberty (Division I) with two, Central Arkansas (Division I) with two, and Lake Sumter CC (junior college) with two.
All of these schools have one player returning a signed contract: Missouri (Division I), Furman (Division I), Stetson (Division I), Jacksonville (Division I), Texas-Pan Am (Division I), Florida Southern (Division II), George Mason (Division I), Ventura CC (junior college), Broward CC (junior college), and Northeast (Texas, a junior college).
The signed contract for a George Mason player is from pitcher Chris Payne, a former Jefferson High athlete.
Contracts have come in from four pitcher-and-second-position players, 11 right-handed pitchers, six left-handed pitchers, three catchers, five outfielders, four middle infielders, two first basemen, one third basemen, and two utility (non-pitcher) players.
Five of the junior college players have already accepted scholarships for the 2013-14 school year from either Division I or Division II colleges.
The Valley Baseball League has a pair of six-team divisions labeled as “North” and “South”.
Charles Town is in the North Division. The other five teams in the North Division are Aldie, Winchester, Strasburg, Front Royal, and Woodstock. Aldie will be another first-year franchise having moved from Haymarket where a team was located for several years.
The South Division has Rockbridge, Covington, New Market, Harrisonburg, Waynesboro, and Staunton.
Valley League seasons begin near the first of June and continue until the last week in July. Eight of the 12 teams reach a tiered playoff system that lasts about two weeks into August. The playoff survivor is the Valley League champion.
The Luray team that is locating in Charles Town missed the 2012 playoffs for the first time in many seasons.
It’s six months until the Cannons fire their first shot from Sager Field, but the franchise is already getting set for Valley League baseball in Jefferson County.