Culpeper’s Jake Dudley was named to the Class 3 baseball all-state first team as announced by the VHSL on Monday.
Dudley, a senior third baseman, batted .431 with a 1.344 OPS, seven doubles, two triples, five home runs and 17 RBIs for the Blue Devils this spring.
The all-state selection is the latest in a series of postseason accolades Dudley has earned. He was named the Region 3B player of the year at the beginning of June, and had already garnered Class 3 Northwestern District player of the year honors in late-May.
“It just feels great to receive these honors, especially with it being my final year of high school baseball,” Dudley said. “As I’ve said previously, I wanted to go out with a bang and I was beyond blessed to be able to do just that.”
Culpeper head coach Brandon Mack said earlier this season that he believed everyone was just seeing a glimpse of Dudley’s potential on the diamond.
“People got a glimpse of what [Dudley] can actually be this season,” he said. “At the plate, nobody wants any part of him.”
Dudley, who committed to Harford Community College (MD) earlier this year, recently reopened his commitment after Owls head coach Tom Eller left to become the new hitting coach for the Aberdeen IronBirds, a Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
“[Coach Eller] is a very talented guy and he was a major reason why I chose [Harford],” Dudley said.
Dudley added that, since he announced his decision to decommit from Harford on Twitter last week, his phone has been flooded with calls and texts from college coaches showing interest in adding him to their respective programs.
As for the remainder of the all-state team, state champion Fluvanna was well represented.
The Flucos had four players make the team, catcher Jacob Critzer was named the state player of the year and coach Joel Gray was named coach of the year.
Gray guided Fluvanna to a 23-3 record and the first state championship in program history. The Flucos also won Jefferson District and Region 3C championships. After losing to Abingdon in the Class 3 state semifinals last season, Gray and the Flucos were determined to get back to Salem and win a state championship this year, taking on the motto “Unfinished business” for the season.
On Friday, the Flucos took care of business, beating Tabb 16-10 in the state championship game at Kiwanis Field.
“We never doubted that we could get back here,” Gray said Friday. “We had some breaks. We were on the ropes a couple of times, but we got back. These guys are baseball players to the core and coaching is easy when you’re got kids like this.”
One of those kids is Critzer, who had a state tournament to remember. The senior hit a walk-off home run in the state semifinals on Thursday against Brentsville, then hit another homer in the Flucos’ victory over Tabb in state championship game on Friday.
“Just knowing that this is going to be my last high school game and come out with a state championship, it captures it all,” Critzer said Friday.
Critzer also was a first-team all-state selection for Fluvanna, as was Andrew Ward. The Flucos’ junior pitcher was dominant on the mound this season, highlighted by a 21-strikeout no-hitter in the regional playoffs against Spotswood. Ward was just as effective at the plate. In Friday’s state championship game, he went 5-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored.
Ward’s brother, Kevin, was a second team all-state selection. Kevin Ward tossed a no-hitter against Powhatan during the regular season. He also shined at the plate in the state championship game, finishing with four hits, including a sole home run, and four RBI. Kevin Ward was joined on the second team by teammate Ryan Groome, who recorded the final out of the state championship game.
William Monroe’s Alex Kinsey also made the all-state team. The senior outfielder was a first-team selection.
Devin Payne of The Culpeper Star-Exponent contributed to this report.