Walls Finds New Home With Turks

Harrisonburg Opens Valley League Season Today In Staunton

By Greg Madia
Dailey News Record

HARRISONBURG – It’s an important summer for Caleb Walls.

The Harrisonburg Turks leadoff hitter and outfielder is between schools after finishing his junior-college career at Pasco-Hermando State.

“Absolute, there’s a little bit of pressure there,” Walls said. “But I’m focusing on the process and if I play well, hopefully I’ll get some opportunities and find a school that’s a good fit.”

Harrisonburg opens it’s 2018 Valley Baseball League campaign tonight in Staunton at Gypsy Hill Park. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.

Seventeeth-year Turks skipper Bob Wease said he is happy to land Walls, who batted .321 and stole 10 bases while playing for Covington last summer. Walls hit .35, drove in 43 runs and swiped 16 bags during his final JUCO season.

“I’m going to help him because he’s a tremendous ballplayer,” Wease said. “And we’ve had that situation happen before, and when that happens the players seem to want to work harder and try to get better.”

“I’m definitely looking to improve upon last year,” Walls said. “I’m looking to hit with a little more power, steal some bags, get on base and help us manufacture some runs.”

The hope from Wease is that Walls’ desire to improve and find a permanent collegiate home translates into the 5-foot-11 speedster serving as a catalyst atop Harrisonburg’s lineup.

Walls will have a better idea about what four-year school he’s headed to once the MLB Draft and College World Series wrap up later this month.

Wease said the team has strong gap-to-gap hitters and most of the projected regulars run well, which means the group should be able to hit-and-run and steal bases.

Joining Walls in the outfield are Georgia Tech’s Michael Guldberg and Eastern Florida State’s Paul Castillo. Wease said Virginia Tech’s Cameron Irvine, a Spotswood grad, will see time in right field and aat third base.

James Madison shortstop Josh Jones was added to the roster last week. Jones, an All-Colonial Athletic Association rookie-team choice, finished his freshman season with the Dukes hitting .296 to go along with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs.

“Josh, I watched him all spring and I like the way he plays,” Wease said. “He’s going to be a great asset and he was a great pickup.

“Last year we were a little weak at short and second. And this year I think we’ll be very strong there.”

Rider’s Kyle Johnson slots in at second base while Illinois’ Grant Van Scoy can play third and Shenandoah’s Luke Nussman should get time at first base.

Nussman was with the Turks in 2017 and hit .333.

Brett Whelton (McNeese State) and Bryce Bonner (Purdue are expected to split time behind the plate.

Harrisonburg pitchers include returners Midland College’s Cade Bullinger and Virginia Tech’s Luke Scherzer. Wease said he’s also excited about Georgia Tech’s Jake Brace, Florida State’s Alex Carpenter and Texas-San Antonio’s Nathan Alexander.

Alexander could be selected in the MLB Draft, whih begins Monday.

Bullinger is in the same spot as Walls- still in searach of a four-year school after completing his JUCO career.

“He’s a big, strong right-hander,” Wease said.

Bulinger was 2-0 over 22 1/3 innings for Harrisonburg in 2017.

The Turks’ home opener is set for Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.