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Benedictine's Jay Woolfolk named Gatorade state player of the year, despite the season being canceled

Benedictine's Jay Woolfolk named Gatorade state player of the year, despite the season being canceled

Baseball Benedictine St. Christopher

Benedictine’s Jay Woolfolk is committed to play football and baseball at the University of Virginia.

The past two months have dragged by for Jay Woolfolk. The Benedictine junior has spent the days taking online classes, throwing baseballs and training for the next football season.

But on Thursday morning, the last day of classes for the Cadets, Woolfolk got some big news. His baseball coach, Sean Ryan, called to let him know that Woolfolk had been named the baseball state player of the year by Gatorade.

The athletic beverage brand has named the top high school player in each sport in every state since the 1985-86 school year. Because there wasn’t much of a high school baseball season, the 2020 winners were chosen on past accomplishments.

As a sophomore, Woolfolk (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) went 6-0 on the mound with 58 strikeouts in 37.1 innings pitched, and the Cadets won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state championship. He was on the mound when the Cadets recorded the final out of the championship game, and Woolfolk earned the save. Then in the fall of his junior year, playing quarterback, he led the football team to the state title.

He’s been named second-team All-Metro as both a baseball and football player.

Benedictine’s baseball team played one game in 2020 before the season was shut down. Within a matter of days, sports were ceased, school buildings were closed and education transferred to an online format.

“Everything happened so quick,” Woolfolk said. “I really wish I could have played.”

Missing the 2020 season gave Woolfolk time to rest up. He suffered a freak injury before the season began, tearing the meniscus in his right knee while swinging a baseball bat. It was painful for a second, he said, then he couldn’t straighten his leg. He missed the beginning of the year but was due to return in April.

Had the season been played as normal, the state championship game would have been contended last Saturday.

Woolfolk has kept conditioning his arm, throwing 60 or 70 pitches per week. His velocity touched 94 mph hour this week, he said, with his fastball mostly sitting between 90 and 92.

“As he walks to the mound, he doesn’t look like he’s going to gas it up there at 90-plus,” St. Christopher’s coach Tony Szymendera said. “But then he does — repeatedly and effortlessly.”

Jay’s dad, Pete Woolfolk, played basketball at the University of Richmond and was named to the school’s hall of fame. He helped lead the Spiders to the Sweet 16 in 1988.

Baseball America ranks Jay the No. 35 prospect in the country in the Class of 2021. He has committed to the University of Virginia to play both football and baseball, but he’ll also be considered a high-level Major League Baseball draft pick next spring.

The last local player to win this award was Steward’s Nic Enright in 2015. Nathan Kirby (2012) and Austin Stadler (2008), both of James River, also won it.

Because Woolfolk just finished his junior year, he has the chance to win the award twice. That hasn’t happened since Justin Upton of Great Bridge won it in 2004 and 2005. Upton, the No. 1 pick of the 2015 draft, has played in the major leagues the past 13 seasons.

(804) 649-6109



Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, sports, coronavirus and protests for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 after graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in English. (804) 649-6109

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