By Jack Mackey
As June begins and summer weather starts rolling in, the Alexandria Aces step up to bat for their tenth season in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The Aces are part of the league’s South Region and will play 40 games over the next seven weeks, vying for a chance to compete in the 2017 League Championship Series for the league title.
The Aces finished the 2016 regular season with a 23-17 record, losing their first game in the 2016 championships to the Herndon Braves. Head Coach David DeSilva assessed this year’s squad as his team readied for its first regular season game.
“The strength for us [this year] is defensively and on the mound,” said DeSilva. The challenge, according to DeSilva, is whether the Aces can keep up with other teams offensively, as recent injuries to the team’s middle-of-the-order hitters may hinder their ability to score runs.
The Aces lost their first and only 2017 exhibition match against the Herndon Braves 3-0 on June 4.
“I would’ve managed the game a bit differently if it were a regular season game,” said DeSilva. But the game provided the Aces with an opportunity to field as many players as possible so they could become familiar with their new teammates.
“From what I could see, [the players] were all meshing really well together,” said General Manager Kimberly McCarthy. The game against the Braves also allowed Aces hitters to become accustomed to the wooden bats in the Cal Ripken League, since they play with metal bats in college.
Both DeSilva and McCarthy hope the Aces will vie for the league’s championship this season. Alongside those ambitions, DeSilva wants to make the summer baseball experience worthwhile for the players.
“I’m one of the most competitive guys out there,” said DeSilva, but he also enjoys “watching players develop in the summer, seeing them go back to school and having better seasons and seeing the guys get drafted.”
Fostering better relationships with the players through positive experiences with the Aces also helps DeSilva in the recruiting process.
“Recruiting is a 12-month job,” he said. “Once you build good relationships with college coaches, you can start recruiting more from that school.”
The Aces have completely revamped their roster, only returning one player from the 2016 season: catcher Cody Miller (Wofford College). DeSilva attributes the roster turnover to players who might have returned but instead chose to play this season in the Cape Cod Baseball League, considered the pinnacle of wooden bat summer leagues. Further, the Aces have lost 12 players from the anticipated 2017 roster who had signed last year to play in Alexandria this summer.
Nevertheless, DeSilva believes the Aces will field a strong roster this summer. Of the
team’s 31 players, 28 come from schools that play NCAA Division I baseball. An early
standout for the Aces is Eli Boggess, a senior at Morehead State University, who has a
collegiate batting average of .425. Boggess’s average ranks him second among all NCAA Division I players. In 55 games this season at Morehead, Boggess had 88 hits, 54 runs 40 runs-batted-in.
McCarthy, who is moving to the general manager position after being assistant general manager for the past two years, is looking to improve the game-day experience for staff and spectators.
“I want to make sure game-day staff are learning and having fun with it,” she said. “I love to see everyone having fun and all the younger players coming out.”
The Aces started off the 2017 regular season strong. winning their first game against the DC Grays 10-3.