Tribute to the Dukes

Published 10:19 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

We would like to take a moment to celebrate and commend the 2019 Cumberland County High School varsity baseball team for its success.

The Dukes worked hard this year, and it put them in a position to make history by the end of the season.

The Virginia High School League’s new alignment allows more teams to have opportunities to make regional play. Even so, Cumberland put itself in a great position with its regular season play, earning the No. 3 seed in the Region 1B tournament out of seven seeds.

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On May 28 in the first round, the Dukes hosted No. 6 Rappahannock County High School and won 5-0.

Cumberland Athletic Director Alfonso Bell noted that this was the first-ever regional playoff victory recorded by a Cumberland varsity baseball team.

Additionally, the win pushed the Dukes’ overall 2019 record to 11-9, guaranteeing they would finish the season with a winning record.

“It’s been over 20 years since we’ve had a winning season in baseball,” Bell said. “Buddy Martin and myself were the coaches then.”

Cumberland’s current head coach, Carter White, deserves praise for managing the team well in his first year. He took a moment recently to reflect on the Dukes’ success.

“It’s pretty remarkable what we have been able to accomplish once you start putting it in a historical perspective here at Cumberland, and it’s certainly been a fun season, but I had a feeling that we were going to have this kind of success before the season even began,” he said. “It’s been a few years since we have really had a (junior varsity) program, and (this) has forced some young guys to play at the varsity level before they were really able to compete. This year we have been able to field a team comprised of mostly juniors and seniors, and it has shown in our results.”

The Dukes mounted a late rally against host No. 2 William Campbell High School in the regional semifinals before ultimately falling 5-2 to finish the season with an 11-10 record. Naturally, Cumberland wanted to advance further, but the successful legacy of the year had already been set, and this loss did not change that.

After that final game, Dukes senior catcher Cole Fillman, who has played baseball since he was 5, spoke from the heart on what the season and his teammates meant to him.

“I will honestly remember this year as the best baseball year of my life,” Fillman said. “I will never forget these guys. I don’t have the words to describe how much this meant to me, this whole year, honestly.”

A mark of successful teams is that rather than entertaining selfishness, players instead play for each other, and that was part of the Dukes’ DNA this year.

Speaking on behalf of the team’s five seniors, Fillman said, “I think that we’re just really proud of all the underclassmen, because they came out here in the beginning of the season, and they said they were doing this for us.”

That selfless approach commands respect, and it makes us even more excited to celebrate Cumberland and its success.

We also commend the Dukes for raising the profile of baseball in Cumberland, which will hopefully inspire others in the county to participate in the sport and spearhead future success on the diamond.

Congratulations to the 2019 varsity Dukes, which included the following:

Addison Boyles

Jason Cooke

Cole Fillman

Calvin Foster

Braden Gilman

Garrett Jensen

Caleb Johnson

Jordan Newman

Alex Parker

Cal Smith

Jordan Smith

Tristan Stinson