Madison baseball ready to strike

Texas-bound junior Andy McGuire leads a loaded Madison squad in pursuit of a state crown. Courtesy of Albert Jacquez

This story originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of ESPNHS Greater D.C.

Back in 2002, no one on the diamond had swagger like James Madison.

The senior-laden crew embarked on an unprecedented 29-0 Virginia state title run en route to a consensus top-five ranking nationally.

“Every time they stepped on the field, they knew they were going to win,” says Madison skipper Mark Gjormand.

That team was feted at a preseason banquet last month, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of that historic season. At some point in the night, the discussion turned to the 2012 squad and whether it could make a run reminiscent of its predecessors.

“A lot of people see similarities: Both teams were very experienced in big games and had some heartbreak,” says Gjormand.

A year before capturing the trophy, the ’02 team bowed out in region play — a finish twice shared by the current squad, which was bounced by eventual state finalists West Springfield (’10) and South County in successive years.

This spring’s cast appears poised to make a name for itself, however, buoyed by a deep lineup and a pitching staff seeking respect after being overshadowed by the more highly touted throwers in the Liberty District. The offense is lethal with seniors Nate Favero and Jonny Graham and Texas-bound junior Andy McGuire ready to tee off on the opposition. And senior Tim Davis and junior Dan Powers are battle-tested hurlers who have emerged as frontline starters, along with junior flamethrower Daniel Bayer.

Playing for a program that has won numerous conference and region crowns, this year’s crew will ultimately be judged by what it does in the playoffs — and that’s fine by McGuire and Co.

“There’s definitely pressure to live up to those guys,” McGuire says. “But they’re all rooting for us. They want us to win — just to lose one game first.”

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.