SALEM — Carter Plunkett became a first honoree for his baseball program Wednesday at Salem Memorial Stadiumprior to the start of the Salem Red Sox’s High Class A Carolina League Baseball game against the Lynchburg Hillcats.
Plunkett, a graduate of Class 5 Patrick Henry who has made a non-binding verbal commitment to NCAA Division III Roanoke College of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), is the first Patriots player to win the Ray Bellamy Award, which has been presented annually since 1992 by the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame.
Plunkett helped lead the Patriots to the River Ridge District championship, its first title since 2013 when they captured the Western Valley District crown.
Plunkett, a shortstop/pitcher, was chosen from a group of seven finalists that included former Franklin County prep standout Cameron Mullins, a finalist for the second consecutive year.
As a pitcher, Plunkett was 3-2 with two saves, 48 strikeouts and a 3.62 earned run average (ERA) in 38 2/3 innings.
A first team Region 5D performer, Plunkett batted .570 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, two triples and 38 RBIs. He was 11 of 15 at the plate in postseason play.
The award is a memorial to the late Ray Bellamy, a long-time amateur coach, umpire and patron of baseball. It recognizes the high school Player of the Year from a eight-county region.
Players who compete for schools in the counties of Alleghany, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Montgomery and Roanoke as well as the independent cities within their boundaries are eligible for nomination.
Local high school coaches are given the opportunity to nominate players. The finalists and the award winner are chosen by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.
The Hall of Fame has given then award since 1992 and Plunkett is its 28th recipient. Four former Franklin County prep stars, all of whom played college baseball at the NCAA Division I level and two of whom played professionally, are recipients: Chad Foutz, Gray Hodges, Larry Bowles and Bobby Basham.
Patrick Henry is the 12th school to have at least one Bellamy Award winner.
Hidden Valley has the most recipients with five, followed by FCHS, William Byrd and Northside each with four, Jefferson Forest, Glenvar and Cave Spring each with two and Salem, Blacksburg, James River-Buchanan, Lord Botetourt and Patrick Henry each with one.
Mullins, a three-year varsity performer for the Eagles, spent the summer competing for Rocky Mount Post 6’s American Legion Seniors squad, which won the District F championship and qualified for the state tournament, which was contested in Lynchburg last week.
This past spring, Mullins helped lead FCHS to a 14-7 record. Its season ended with opening-round losses to Patrick County in the Piedmont District tournment and to James River-Midlothian in the Region B tournament.
James River-Midlothian reached the Class 6 state semifinals.
Mullins, who has given a non-binding verbal commitment to continue his baseball career at NCAA Division III Emory & Henry College, was voted Player of the Year in Region B and the co-Player of the Year in the multi-classification Piedmont District. He was a first-team honoree in both the region and the district as a pitcher and a second-team performer as an infielder (first base) in the region.
As a pitcher, Mullins, a right-hander, appeared in 12 games, 10 of which were starts, and was 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA.
In 50 1/3 innings, Mullins surrendered 44 hits, 10 walks and a hit batsman, while striking out 50.
Mullins batted .394 with five doubles, one triple, three home runs and 35 RBIs. He finished his high school career with six home runs.
Other finalists were pitcher/outfielder Brae Farrell of Lord Botetourt; catcher Nick Funk of Staunton River; pitcher/shortstop Brady Kirtner of Christiansburg; third baseman Hunter Meador of William Byrd; and outfielder Parker Stallard of Salem.
Kirtner and Stallard were juniors this past season.
Keith Reed of Class I state champion Auburn is this year’s Posey Oyler Scholarship winner. A first-team All-State player, Reed belted 10 doubles, stole 20 bases, scored 39 runs and drove in 28 runs.