Behind future JMU pitcher, Bethel baseball in hunt for Peninsula District title

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Behind the arm of a future Division I pitcher, a coach that’s a former draft pick and a team that has seven seniors and seven juniors, the Bethel baseball team is having its best season in years.

“We have some opportunities next year as well,” coach Chris Ochsenfeld said. “But it’s probably not going to be the same with having Cayden on the mound.”

Cayden would be Cayden Ochsenfeld, the coach’s son, an elite pitcher who has given up one earned run in 21 innings with 48 strikeouts.

He recently committed to James Madison, and he throws a mean fastball.

“When JMU came out, I hit 96 [mph],” Cayden Ochsenfeld said.

Catcher Austin Debusk knows how strong of a pitcher Cayden is, and he knows opponents fear him.

“I was catching when Cayden threw a no-hitter,” Debusk said. “One of the hitters was like ‘I’m a freshman, this is not fair.’ Three pitches later he was out, short story. Not a lot of hitters are fond of it, but it’s fun for me.”

Coach Ochsenfeld was a fourth-round draft pick of the Dodgers as a pitcher in 1994, and he knows talent when he sees it.

“I’m biased, of course, because he’s my son,” Chris Ochsenfeld said. “On the mound he’s just the type of guy that you can give the ball to and you know the other team is going to have a hard time making contact.”

The Bruins are not a one-man team. Few good baseball teams are. They’re currently in first place in the Peninsula District and are trying to hold on and claim their first district crown in 16 years, but there are goals beyond that as well.

“We want to make it to the state tournament,” Chris Ochsenfeld said. “We’re trying to get to the dance to see what happens.”

While Cayden Ochsenfeld looks forward to his college career at JMU, he said there’s unfinished business with Bethel.

“Obviously gonna try and make it to states and go as far as possible,” Cayden Ochsenfeld said. “I want to play as long as I can with this team. It’s family.”

Having an ace on the mound doesn’t hurt the Bruins odds.

“The one thing we do have is a guy that can throw like Cayden,” Chris Ochsenfeld said. “That does give me something in my back pocket that most teams don’t have.”

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