By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(May 25, 2014) – After undergoing Tommy John surgery and a school transfer, Broad Run High School graduate and College of Charleston pitching ace Taylor Clarke (2011) has been named to the Gregg Olson Award watch list for 2014.
The Olson Award is an honor given to college baseball’s “Breakout Player of the Year,” and Clarke winning this award would not come as a surprise.
Originally a member of the Towson University baseball program, Clarke had a premature end to his freshmen season after going 1-4 with a 3.88 ERA and had to go in for a surgery which pitchers around the country at all levels of play know too well.
The sophomore’s 2014 campaign is a much better story and consisted of a Colonial Athletic Association best 9-3 record – which is tied for 16th most Division I wins in the nation – a .209 opposing batting average and a 2.44 ERA. Clarke helped lead the Division I Cougars to the No. 2 seed in the CAA with a 38-17 record including a 15-6 mark in the conference. Charleston will take on the winner of the James Madison versus North Carolina Wilmington on May 22 in the second round the CAA championship.
The Olson Award is named after former Auburn University pitcher Gregg Olson, who after his shaky freshmen season with the Division I Tigers, became one of the country’s shining stars being named a two-time All-American, first round MLB draft pick, the American League Rookie of the Year and a MLB All-Star. His extreme turn around between his freshmen year and the rest of his baseball career inspired the trophy’s name.
Other notes from the past weeks in college sports:
- James Madison University softball pitching star Heather Kiefer was named to the Northeast region first team after her successful regular season with the Division I Dukes. The 2011 Potomac Falls High School graduate finished her junior season with a 20-8 record, a 2.04 ERA which factored in six innings of shutout relief in JMU’s CAA championship game victory. Stone Bridge High School graduate Niki Prince (2012) picked up third team Northeast region honors after her freshmen season with the Dukes.
- Another former Loudoun softball pitcher, Broad Run High School graduate Anna Blessing (2010), was named the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 27. In her first outing of the week against Saint Louis, Blessing went six innings allowing just two earned runs as the Division I Patriots fell to the Billikens, 2-1. The following weekend Blessing took the circle against Massachusetts where she threw a four-hit shutout earning her ninth win of the season as GMU rolled, 5-0. In part two of the doubleheader, Blessing tossed the first three innings for the Patriots allowing just one earned run in her no decision.
- Loudouners continued to make noise on the diamond as Freedom High School graduate Matt Malacane (2012) helped the Division II Seton Hill Griffins to a sweep of the NCAA Atlantic Regional and an appearance in the NCAA DII baseball championship tournament. Thus far in 2014, Malacane is hitting .328 with 21 RBI and 20 runs scored all while transitioning from an outfielder to the everyday Griffin first basemen. Seton Hill will take on Minnesota State University, Mankato, in the first round of the DII national championship on May 25.
Heritage High School graduate Ross Madison (2009) signed a deal with the Washington Redskins after attending their rookie minicamp tryouts in mid-May. After being a standout defensive back and running back for the Pride in high school, Madison played free-safety for four years at the University of Toledo. Madison helped the Division I Rockets to three straight bowl game appearances including a win over Air Force in the 2011 Military Bowl in Washington, D.C.
- A fellow 2009 LCPS graduate Zach Thompson also recently signed a deal with an NFL team as the Stone Bridge High School graduate has landed with the New York Jets. Thompson played defensive end in 43 games during his Wake Forest career recording over 150 tackles including 22 for a loss and 12 sacks. While at Stone Bridge, Thompson helped the Bulldogs to a 50-5 record including a VHSL AAA Division 5 state championship victory in 2007.
- While Madison and Thompson signed their deals with professional football teams, Broad Run High School graduate Holly King (2009) signed a new deal with a developmental soccer team. In 2013, King was selected 19th overall in the National Women’s Soccer League by the Washington Spirit before moving to Colorado to play for the United Soccer Leagues’ W-League Colorado Pride in their upcoming 2014 season which starts at home on May 22 against the Colorado Storm. Prior to playing postgraduate soccer, King played at the University of Florida where she was named an All-American, an academic All-American and the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year during her senior season in 2012.
Loudoun County High School graduate Olivia Mackey (2010) joined King in the United Soccer Leagues ranks after signing a deal with the Seattle Sounders of the W-League. Mackey who attended Elon University after graduating from Loudoun County, will play against King as both women will compete in the W-League’s western conference.
- Former Dominion High School golfer Sam Stilwell (2013) placed third in the Denison Ted Barclay Invitational in Ohio on April 12 and 13 while golfing for the NCAA Division III’s No. 4 Wittenberg University Tigers. In 2011, Stilwell brought home the VHSL AA state championship just two years before former Dominion teammate and University of Delaware commit Erik Dulik brought home the VHSL 4A trophy.
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and will enter his senior year at Syracuse University this fall. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!