Cannons Coming Back Home
By: Matt Davis
PURCELLVILLE, VA—It’s almost that time of the year again. Fresh cut grass, infield dirt, crack of the bat and the pop of the ball hitting the leather glove. Yes, Cannons fans the 2018 season is just around the corner. With all of the new faces for the 2018 Cannons, there will be some familiarity for fans as the Cannons have five returning players from the 2017 season. Three will be toeing the rubber on the mound and the other two will be anchoring their positions on the left side of the infield and the left-handed batter’s box. The Cannons are proud and excited to welcome back to Fireman’s Field, Dalton Whitaker, Sean Gabel, Parker Dyson, Jacob ‘Shaggy’ Freeland, and Nolan Ritchie.
Dalton Whitaker is a 5’11”/195lb. right-handed pitcher from Winthrop University. He arrived in Purcellville last year at the start of the season with only one question to answer…. ‘Can you be the guy?’ Whitaker let his pitching do the talking. In 13 1/3 innings, he allowed only eight hits and four walks. In 10 appearances, he had a 1-0 win/loss record and recorded five saves and a zero ERA. Although he didn’t finish the season due to an injury late in the season, at the time of his injury in late July his five saves led the Valley League. Cannons fans can delight that when Dalton walks to the mound, the game is over.
Sean Gabel is a 6’2”/200lb. right-handed pitcher from Valdosta State University. Sean was part of a dominant starting rotation for the Purcellville Cannons. Although Gabel reached his innings limit, he still started in six games, had four wins and totaled 34 2/3 innings on the season. Gabel was in the top 15 pitchers in the league and second on the Cannons with an ERA of 3.89. Gabel was very consistent for the Cannons in his six starts, going at least six innings in 67% of his starts in 2017.
Parker Dyson is a 6’5”/220lb. left-handed pitcher from West Liberty University. Dyson was part of a very consistent and tough Cannons bullpen during the 2017 season. Parker was a very durable reliever, coming in to mop up a game, or in tough situations he didn’t disappoint. In 11 appearances, Dyson pitched 17 innings and struck out 28 hitters and had an ERA of 0.53. He also tallied a win and a save. With Dyson and Whitaker as the anchors to the bullpen, Cannons fans will rest easy when the game is turned over to the bullpen.
Jacob ‘Shaggy’ Freeland is a 6’2”/205lb. infielder from Faulkner University. Shaggy was a midseason acquisition for the Cannons, playing in 17 games. When he arrived, he clicked immediately with the team and fell right in to the lineup. In those 17 games, Shaggy had four homeruns, 19 RBIs and hit for a solid .305 average. Freeland also contributed to the fun and competitive environment in Purcellville. The Cannons are excited to welcome back a great player, teammate and fun guy to have in the dugout.
Nolan Ritchie is a 6’2”/190lb. infielder from Abilene Christian University. Nolan was a crucial part of the Cannons infield in 2017. Moving around between shortstop and second base, Nolan seemed comfortable wherever he was moved to during the season. In 36 games, Ritchie had nine RBIs, and launched a crucial solo homerun in the first round of the playoffs against Winchester. Ritchie’s glove was a vacuum for the Cannons during the 2017 season and a very dependable second baseman helped the Cannons to a Northern division title. A great teammate and fun guy to have in the dugout, the Cannons welcome back Nolan Ritchie to Purcellville.