by Ken Brown
WINOOSKI – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) junior varsity baseball team beat Winooski last week for their first win of the season and the first victory for the rebooted program in over four years.
Freshman ace Grayson McNaughten struck out six Spartans to earn the victory to lead the Chargers to a 12-8 road win last Thursday. Landon Miller, Clavin Cacciamani, and McNaughten strung together a trio of hits in the top of the first to give CA an early 3-0 advantage. The Chargers batted around in the second, highlighted by a double from junior Dylan Washer for nine more runs by the visitors. McNaughten added two hits on the day from the plate and was relieved by Miller to finish up the game.
“It was nice to see some of the younger ball players on our team have an excellent game. Winooski came back to rally for eight runs, but overall I was very pleased with how we played. Grayson had the best game I’ve seen him throw from the mound so far this season,” said coach William Garske.
Garske and coach Shaun Allen are in the process of reviving baseball at the high school level for the Chargers this spring. The baseball program went dormant at CA in 2015 and was rebooted as a JV program under Craig Wilson four years later before COVID-19 took away all of Vermont spring high school sports in 2020. Baseball has only existed at the youth and middle school level at CA ever since.
Allen is a ‘96 graduate from CA and played on the varsity baseball team for five seasons. Garske is a teacher at CA and coached the varsity boys’ soccer team last fall. Allen has coached at the youth level in the community the past few years and partnered with Mark Royan, April Royan, and John Amell to create Craftsbury Baseball over three years ago. The absence of any semblance of youth baseball at the Common for more than a decade, as well as varsity baseball at CA fueled Allen, his partners, and many volunteers throughout the community to bring back Tee Ball and Little League. Interest has since exploded with over 80 children participating in the program last summer in Craftsbury and surrounding communities, offering tee ball, minor and major league baseball for ages 4-12. The growth culminated last summer with the newly renovated Dustan Field hosting the 8–10-year-old District IV Little League Championship. CA athletic director Connor Bean, Allen, and Garske believe the high participation numbers the last three years at the youth level and at the middle school and junior varsity level this spring, is a stepping-stone to bringing back varsity baseball to CA in the Mountain League in the near future.
“April, Mark, and John, as well as countless volunteers have done most of the work and have created a lot of interest in the program. You need that interest from the kids to make the program successful, but it is the parents that really make it happen at the youth level. We are so lucky to have so many hungry parents and volunteers in this community that want to see kids get after it and have fun playing this game. William and I are so excited to help bring baseball back to CA and we have a great group of kids. We are a small school with a lot of sport choices and dual athletes, so it’s important that we keep working to generate interest in baseball at the youth level,” said Allen earlier this spring.
The Chargers will be back in action at Dustan Field on Wednesday with a match-up against St. Johnsbury Academy and will host Enosburg next Tuesday on Senior Night.