Jackie Bradley Jr., Prince George Baseball, Softball become champions

From the games I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard and the people I’ve talked to, Prince George County — for years and years and years — has been an incredible place for baseball and softball.

2018 wasn’t so much about finally crowning them as champions for this year alone — but about recognizing them for the champions it feels like they’ve forever been.

Jackie Bradley Jr., the baseball star from Prince George, didn’t just become a World Series champion in name along with his Boston Red Sox teammates. He helped his Sox get there as the ALCS MVP, racking up nine RBIs in the five-game series versus the Houston Astros on go-ahead efforts (a three-run double and a two-run homer) in two of the games and a grand slam in Game 3. And while the Red Sox did take that one World Series loss to the Dodgers, it was Bradley who helped tie the game in the top of the eighth on his solo home run and, unbeknownst to him or anyone else at the time, paved the way for history to happen, as it took the Dodgers 18 innings in 7 hours and 20 minutes — the longest game in World Series history — to beat Boston 3-2.

JBJ became a clutch hero in his team’s run to the title of World Champions, putting the golden crown on an already phenomenal spring for Prince George High School.

One state championship team alone would’ve been incredible, especially considering how good both the Prince George baseball and softball teams have been in recent seasons and throughout the years. In the three seasons I’ve covered the baseball team, I’ve just watched them build and build, setting school records with each campaign they assembled from 2016 to 2018. At the same time, Prince George Softball, also dominating their regular seasons and having gone to the state tournament before I came on board, was going into the 2018 season with a dream team of mostly seniors.

Every single player on the baseball and softball teams was a talented and dedicated player on his or her own. Put them all together, and there was no surprise when both teams made the state tournaments.

But Saturday, June 9, 2018 — what a day that was! Both Prince George Baseball AND Prince George Softball became first-time state champions, adding those much-deserved rings to show how hard they’ve worked and how much passion they have for their sport not just this year, but in the seasons leading up to it. Nearly five months later, that day still hasn’t sunk in.

If Bradley’s role on the Red Sox doesn’t draw attention to just how much of a leader Prince George County is in the game of baseball and softball, then I don’t know what will. And Prince George absolutely is not alone. Thomas Dale, Dinwiddie and Hopewell also saw their ball teams reach the state tournaments with Dinwiddie Baseball and Hopewell Baseball winning the regional championships. This area is stacked with incredible talent, as several current collegiate players and college-bound high schoolers from the Tri-Cities would not surprise me if they were to join Bradley in not just becoming a part of a major league team, but becoming a star contributor to one.

Also, Prince George Baseball head coach Mickey Roberts, who also coached JBJ, has to be the happiest man on the planet.

Congratulations to Jackie Bradley Jr., congratulations to Prince George Baseball and congratulations to Prince George Softball. Thank you for representing your county and Tri-Cities region as well as you have. You all deserve the championships that you have won and all other accolades that have come — and will come — your way.

Nick Vandeloecht may be reached at nvandeloecht@progress-index.com, 804-722-5151 or @NickVanDelPI on Twitter.