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.”