‘Hoos powering Monsters?

Trio of UVa commits play key role in Vermont’s success
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Lake Monsters had a torrid July, and they haven’t cooled off much in August either. The team has won 29 of its last 33 games, and their 40 wins on the season have already set a new Futures League record. With a 6-4 win over Westfield Tuesday at Centennial, the Monsters also clinched the top seed in the upcoming Futures League playoffs.

There are plenty of reasons for Vermont’s success in recent weeks, but a contingent of commits to one College World Series regular certainly hasn’t hurt. Anhtony Stephan, Justin Rubin, and Futures League MVP finalist Ethan Anderson were three of the Monsters’ best position players this season, their first above the high school level.

Stephan and Rubin form an impressive middle infield duo and neither is a slouch with the bat either. Anderson meanwhile did nothing but tear the cover off the ball since from day 1, hitting .427 when the league average is nearly two hundred points lower than that.

The Futures League is somewhat unique at the collegiate Summer league level in allowing incoming freshmen to play, and due to a long-time friendship between Monsters manager Pete Wilk and Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor, Vermont had the three Cavalier commits playing big time roles before their departure eary this week.

This weekend, the 2015 national champion head coach, who has taken Virginia to Omaha five times in the dugout and once as a Creighton player, made his first ever trip up to see his guys play. O’Connor says it would be tough to be any more impressed by Burlington.

“Well I’ll tell you, this is my first time I’ve been to Burlington,” O’Connor said Sunday evening. “I flew up here two days ago to get a chance to see what it’s like up here because Coach Wilk has just raved about what a great community it is, what a great facility it is, and how they take care of the players here. So I decided that I’d fly up here and check it out, and I can guarantee you this: there will absolutely be University of Virginia players every year coming up here to Burlington. I think it’s great that this league allows incoming freshmen into college to play in it, and these three are exceptional players. They’re very, very talented, they’re doing a nice job, and I’m glad that they could impact this club this Summer. And it’s great because I believe it prepares them for what they’re gonna see at the elite level of college baseball and I know this, when we start our classes here at UVa in two weeks, they’ll be ready to go because of the experience they had this Summer.”

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