Former Statesmen help shape Tigers

Published 12:18 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2019

It is understood that members of Randolph-Henry High School’s (R-H) talented baseball program go on to the college ranks and make a difference on the diamond at the different levels of the NCAA, but a special kind of Statesmen impact can be felt right now within the Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) baseball program.

Presently, the Tigers program features former R-H standout Bradford Webb, now a sophomore pitcher in college. Then on the Tigers coaching staff are former Statesmen head coaches Billy Catron and J.R. Allen.

Catron and Allen work together with Robbie Bailey to make up H-SC Head Coach Jeff Kinne’s complete staff.

Catron was head coach of the Statesmen when they won the state championship in 2002 and 2005, and he joined Kinne’s staff in the fall of 2008. He first served as a volunteer and now occupies a paid assistant baseball coach position.

“He really does a great job, coaches our infielders, and we’ve been (in the) top half of the league pretty much every year he’s been here in team defense,” Kinne said. “And it’s nice to have somebody who’s been a head coach so that when things go awry, then I can have somebody to lean on who’s been there and done it.”

The Tigers have been limited this year by injuries and more affecting their bullpen, but they entered this week with a 14-14-2 record that includes a road win over the No. 3 team in the nation at the NCAA Division III level, suggesting H-SC can compete with anyone.

“Coach Allen, he’s new, he’s kind of getting his feet wet with this level of baseball, but he’s been a nice addition to the coaching staff,” Kinne said.

Allen, serving as Tigers volunteer assistant baseball coach, coached the Statesmen to stellar records and repeat regional appearances in recent years.

Emerging as an impact player for the Tigers on the mound this year has been Webb.

“Bradford was pretty much the fourth pitcher — maybe even the fifth pitcher — on a high school team which generally uses two pitchers,” Kinne said. “But they had two guys going to (James Madison University), the one that goes to Longwood now, then a guy goes to Randolph-Macon all pretty much ahead of him in the pitching depth (chart), but I saw Bradford at a camp, (and) I was like, ‘Wow, this guy could be really, really good, and nobody knows it.’ So a bunch of schools were there, two of us kind of picked up on it, but he thankfully chose to come here, and he’s been great.”

Webb holds a record of 2-3 and has thrown 21 strikeouts across nine appearances this season.

“He’s not only a great player, he’s a great person,” Kinne said. “He’s an RA (Resident Assistant) on campus. He’ll be Head RA next year as a junior, which is kind of unheard of. So, he’s a campus leader, a great person and just the kind of person you want to be around all the time.”