Wease Touts Turks

MVP Billings Set To Return
Written By Matt Jones
Daily News Record

Harrisonburg – Harrisonburg Turks manager Bob Wease leaned back in his chair inside his Wease Auto office Tuesday and knocked on a nearby wooden cabinet. Barring some bad luck, his 2016 Valley Baseball League lineup has some serious potential, Wease said. “I honestly believe if everything holds true, this is going to be the best lineup I’ve had in a long time,” the 72 year old VBL veteran said.
Wease has poured over his likely starting lineup for this summer, he said, checking his players’ college statics for about 15 minutes every morning. What he finds, he said, has him excited.
Leading the returning players from last year’s team that finished 30-15 and was eliminated in the first round of the VBL playoffs for a third straight year is reining league MVP Shane Billings.

Billings, a junior outfielder at Wingate University, hit a VBL-best .418 last season. He is currently batting .408 this season with 43 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, 79 runs scored and 10 hoome runs this season at Wingate. Wease said he will pair Billings with North Carolina-Greensboro freshman outfielder Andrew Moritz, who is hitting .400 for the Spartans.
Wease said he recently took a trip to see Greensboro play and spoke with Spartans coach Line Jarrett, who played for the Turks in 1992.
“He told me that (Moritz) is the best looking baseball player he’s had in all his years coaching,” Wease said.
Of the eight position players Wease said he expects to fill Harrisonburg’s starting lineup, seven are currently hitting at least .328, Cowley (Kan.) Community College first baseman Caleb Eldridge – a transfer from Oklahoma State – is batting .369, and Greensboro shortstop Tripp Shelton, a returnee from last year, is hitting .385.
“Our position players look so good, it’s unbelievable,” Wease said. “It really looks good, I mean really good.”
The Valley League is a wooden-bat summer baseball league for college players hoping to improve their skills and, perhaps, catch a professional scout’s eye. Most players spend just a simgle summer with a team, but the Turks – who open their season on June 1 at Veterans Memorial Park – expect to return three  pitchers from last year, according to Wease: left-handers Donte Lindsay (Bethune-Cookman) and James Madison’s Tucker McCoy and Eric Yankey.
JMU freshman right-hander Christian Bourne is also slated to pitch for Harrisonburg, Wease said.
McCoy and Yankey – Spotswood and Turner Ashby High School graduates, respectively – are two of five Turks players with area high school connections. Utility men Ty Comer (Luray, now at Ferrum College) and Tanner Dofflemyer (Page County, now at JMU) will provide depth in the infield, Wease hopes.
Former TA star Luke Shiflett, now at Division II Alderson Broaddus, will also join the Turks this summer, Wease said.
“All of the coaches were telling me, “Bob, this can can really hit,” Wease said. “So I hope they don’t just fall on their faces when they get here.”
Harrisonburg led the league with a .285 team batting average last season. The Turks also had the best team earned-run average at 2.92, but struggled late in the season when pitchers were injured or returned to college early.
Wease said his top arms this summer are expected to be Wake Forest right-handers Donnie Sellers and John McCarren, as well as Division II Washburn (Kan.) right-hander Nick Silva and NAIA Oklahoma City University right-hander Mark Simon.
“I mean if our pitching comes through, I think we’re going to be pretty good,” Wease said.
Wease, a longtime veteran of the Valley League, has no plans to step down. Umprompted, the 15th year manager with a record of 396-231 said he’s as strong as ever.
“I know I’m older, but I feel great. I feel great. I’m 72, but I feel 40,” Wease said. “I don’t have anything wrong with me that I know of. I see people that are my age and I go, “Oh my God, tell me I don’t look that bad.” I’m going to do it as long as I can because I enjoy it.
“I get up in the morning, go by Sheetz and buy a cup of coffee, read the paper, shoot the crap with the guys that come in here. Sell a car here and there. I don’t think you should ever retire. You’ve got to have a reason to get up in the morning. Can you imagine getting up and not having anywhere to go? I think you need something to get up for.”