Just like his spring, Thomas Francisco’s summer was a smashing success.
The former Abingdon High School baseball star had a stellar showing for the Charlottesville Tom Sox of the Valley League, a collegiate showcase circuit that uses wooden bats and features a bevy of prized prospects.
Francisco hit a league-best .412 with one home run and 30 RBIs in the regular season, while batting .400 with one homer and six RBIs in the playoffs.
Charlottesville won the Valley League championship and Francisco was a first-team all-league selection at designated hitter.
“The key was having confidence in my abilities and focusing on having a quality at-bat every time I stepped into the box,” Francisco said. “One of the biggest things I learned is that there is talent at every level and no matter what your goals are you have to work if you want to play at the next level.”
His summer-league showing came on the heels of Francisco’s freshman season at East Carolina University in which he compiled a .319 batting average for the American Athletic Conference regular-season champions.
A week after the Pirates were eliminated from the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament by Louisville, Francisco was back on the field.
He hit safely in his first 23 games for Charlottesville and overall had a hit in 32 of the 34 games he played.
“It was surreal,” Francisco said. “I knew that I had [a long hitting streak], but my main focus was to have quality at-bats.”
Francisco ended his summer celebrating a championship.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Summer ball is a grind and to come out on top is a great feeling.”
Francisco’s former AHS teammate, Cade Hungate, also played in the Valley League and hit .189 with one home run and four RBIs in 14 games for the New Market Rebels. Hungate is a sophomore at Florida State University.
“We played against each other once,” Francisco said. “I would’ve rather played with him, but it was still fun. Cade is a great player.”
Meanwhile, former Falcon and Radford University junior Will Harless compiled a .308 batting average with five homers and 18 RBIs for the West Virginia Miners of the Prospect League.
Harless has compiled a .252 batting average with six home runs and 36 RBIs in his first two seasons at Radford.
“I would say the biggest thing that helped me was taking time to try new things and playing relaxed,” Harless said. “The game really slowed down for me this summer and I’m looking forward to how that translates to this fall and [the 2020] season. The biggest thing that I learned from summer ball was you can only control so much that goes on during the game. Being a good teammate and focusing on your job is all you can do to contribute to winning.”