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Region Roundup: Bedford legend Cutler to be enshrined, Rustburg's Blankinship and Riddle earn all-state volleyball honors

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Longtime Liberty High baseball coach Jim Cutler will be inducted into the Virginia Baseball Coaches Association's inaugural Hall of Fame class next month, the organization announced Tuesday. 

Cutler, who led the Minutemen from 1961 through 2005, will be enshrined as part of a 10-person class Dec. 9 at the VBCA's annual convention in Fairfax. 

Cutler ranks fifth all time among Virginia High School League coaches with 513 victories. Known as "Mr. Baseball" in Bedford, Cutler posted 38 winning seasons during his 45-year career as head coach and 15 Seminole District titles. He also guided the Minutemen to the 1977 Group AA state championship. 

This is the third hall of fame honor for Cutler, who is a member of the VHSL and Salem/Roanoke Baseball halls. He also was named Virginia state coach of the year in 1996. His memoir, "The Life of Mr. Baseball," was published in 2021. 

Other baseball coaches to be inducted include: 

  • Ron Atkins, who led the University of Richmond to 717 victories and seven NCAA tournaments during a 22-year tenure after success at J.R. Tucker High; 
  • Bill Brown, who coached George Mason for 41 years, won 1.083 games and ranked 10th among active coaches in wins at the time of his retirement; 
  • Tom Harding (posthumously), who for 46 years led Honaker High and who leads the VHSL in wins with 633; 
  • Chuck Hartman (posthumously), who coached Virginia Tech and High Point and racked up 1,444 career wins — which ranks 10th among Division I baseball coaches all-time. Hartman, a member of nine halls of fame, took the Hokies to four NCAA tournaments and posted 35 winning seasons in 36 years between the two schools; 
  • Paul Keyes (posthumously), who led VCU for 18 years, earned 603 victories and took the Rams to eight NCAA tourneys and brought home the Colonial Athletic Association championship five times; 
  • Marty Miller, who won 718 games in 32 seasons as head coach at Norfolk State, where he won 17 conference titles and was named Center Intercollegiate Athletic Association coach of the year 15 times; 
  • Mack Shupe, a VHSL hall of famer who won eight state titles in 40 years between J.J. Kelly and J.I. Burton high schools and who won 631 career games, good for second all-time in the VHSL. At J.J. Kelly, Shupe won four state titles from 1981 through '84 without losing a game, going 83-0; 
  • Ron Tugwell, who won two state titles in a 27-year career at West Springfield in Fairfax, and whose teams captured 12 district championships and never lost more than three games in a row; 
  • Norbie Wilson, who earned 417 victories, a state title and 14 district championships in 26 seasons as coach at First Colonial High in Virginia Beach, and whose 1993 state championship squad was ranked No. 6 in the nation by USA Today. 

The induction ceremony will be held at the Fairfax Marriot at Fair Oaks. The induction will take place at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at vbca.org

RHS’ Riddle, Blankinship earn all-state volleyball recognition

Following a 19-3 season and a run to the Class 3 state quarterfinals, Rustburg saw two players earn all-state recognition Tuesday.

Setter Emma Blankinship and outside hitter Reagan Riddle, both juniors, were named to the all-state second team after leading the Red Devils’ offensive attack.

Riddle tallied more than 250 kills to lead RHS and was third on the team with just over 200 digs in her first season seeing significant playing time. She also chipped in 31 aces and 18 blocks.

Blankinship, also starting for the first time in her volleyball career, tallied more than 750 assists as the Red Devils’ primary setter. She led RHS in aces with 50 and recorded the team’s best serve percentage, at better than 94%. Blankinship also was an important contributor defensively with 23 blocks and 175 digs.

For the full all-state team, scroll to the bottom of this report. 

Football region championship times set

This weekend's VHSL region championship games will take place over the course of two days for area squads. Four teams from this newspaper's coverage area are still in the playoffs: Appomattox, E.C. Glass, Heritage and Liberty Christian. 

In the Region 2C title game, fourth-seeded Appomattox (9-3) travels to No. 3 Glenvar (9-3) for a Friday game that kicks off at 7 p.m. 

In the Region 3C championship, No. 2 seed Heritage (10-2) travels to Williams Stadium to play top-seeded LCA (11-1) at 7 p.m.  on Saturday. 

And in a Region 4D heavyweight matchup, No. 1 seed E.C. Glass (11-1) hosts No. 3 Salem (10-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Lynchburg City Stadium. 


VOLLEYBALL

Class 3 All-State Teams

Player of the Year: Caleigh Ponn, Hidden Valley.

Coach of the Year: Jonathan Amaral, York.

First Team: Ramsie Pittman (York), Kendall Abercrombie (York), Caleigh Ponn (Hidden Valley), Sara Waller (Warren County), Baylee Blalock (Fort Defiance), Morgan Hunter (York), Alli Pratt (Tabb), Ashley Hunt (York), Nala Shearer (Rockbridge), Lauren Atwell (York).

Second Team: Callie Anderson (Hidden Valley), Emma Blankinship (Rustburg), Aubrey Hyndshaw (New Kent), Nina Smith (Goochland), Ellie Cook (Fort Defiance), Gracie Rigney (Tunstall), Reagan Riddle (Rustburg), Ava Dickerson (Warren County), Sophie McLaughlin (New Kent), Addison Hammond (Fort Defiance).

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