HENSPTS-04-30-21 KVA1

Kerr-Vance Academy baseball player Shane Musselman (center) gets swarmed by his teammates after hitting the walk-off solo home run to end Wednesday’s matchup against New Life Camp.

HENDERSON -- An afternoon that saw three Kerr-Vance Academy baseball players hit home runs was more than enough for the program to defeat New Life Camp and improve to 7-7 on the year Wednesday.

Head coach Mike Rigsbee admitted that the 2021 season for KVA has been challenging in multiple ways but is confident that the team is starting to gain the necessary momentum to make a run at a fourth straight NCISAA 1A Championship.

“They’ve started to swing the bat these last few games,” Rigsbee said. “The pitching has been there even though we had some guys tonight that haven’t pitched much. We’ve played some good teams this year and tonight was a really good one.”

The first runs of the game belonged to New Life Camp at the top of the second quarter. Senior Cole Merritt walked three batters on the mound but the KVA outfield managed to hold New Life Camp to only two runs.

Senior R.J. Johnson made up for the lackluster sequence on the mound by draining a home run out towards centerfield. This ended up bringing two other runners home for KVA and gave them an advantage they would not surrender for the rest of the day.

Rigsbee said that Johnson now has MLB scouts observe him on a regular basis, which he believes is a testament to the culture that he helped former head coach Todd Wilkerson create during his time with the program.

“We’ve produced some good players over the last six years,” Rigsbee said. “We’ve had one or two go to college when Todd was the head coach. We’ll be young next year but if we keep battling, good things can happen and that’s what makes me want to come here.”

The New Life Camp outfield had no answer for KVA’s efficient hitting and they were forced to watch as their opponent loaded the bases at the bottom of the fourth inning and extended their advantage to five runs.

Senior Michael Holtzman helped strengthen KVA’s grip on the lead in the fifth inning with a grand slam before a walk-off solo home run by junior Shane Musselman moments later gave his team a 12-2 lead, which ended the contest by mercy rule.

Although KVA now sits at .500 on the year, Rigsbee said that injuries and a tough schedule have prevented his roster from showcasing their full potential but he fully anticipates KVA being competitive in the full season as long as everyone keeps focusing on the team’s strengths.

“I want us to keep swinging,” Rigsbee said. “The main thing is that we need to keep playing hard. Good things will happen if we play hard.”

Only one game remains for KVA before the start of the NCISAA 1A Playoffs. That contest will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday against Oakwood.