That was the first word that came to the mind of 18-year-old Pat Doudican when asked how he felt about throwing the first pitch in Purcellville Cannons' history.
After a three-year hiatus from Virginia, the Cannons moved back to Old Dominion from their previous residence in Charles Town, West Virginia, finding a new home in the city of Purcellville at the historic Fireman's Field in Loudoun County.
The Cannons' 2016 season begins on Thursday with a trip to Front Royal to take on the Cardinals--a game that features Doudican on the mound as the starting pitcher.
Doudican, a 6'2'' lefty from John's Island, South Carolina, was redshirted this past season at the College of Charleston and will transfer to Polk State in Winter Haven, Florida next fall. The lengthy left-hander brings a great mixture of pitches to the table, something that attracted the eye of manager Brett Fuller for the team's season-opening affair against Front Royal.
"He was redshirted this year so he didn't pitch a whole lot, so, he's fresh. He's a crafty guy, a four-pitch guy, who hits his spots well," Fuller said about his opening-day starter. "I hope he can give us six solid innings tomorrow night and then we can turn it over to our bullpen and see what we've got."
Fuller continued to mention that his starter has a fastball that can hit in the low 90s range, something that Doudican was a bit modest about in preparing for his first appearance of the summer, "I can get up to the mid-to-high 80s. I don't want to say more than that and not deliver," he explained with a laugh.
Doudican is not the only one excited for baseball to come to Purcellville. The Cannons’ spirit night at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday got a great turnout, with plenty of fans showing up to get autographs and take pictures with the players and of course, the famous “Eat Mor Chikin” cow.
“We’re looking forward to providing this community with a brand of baseball that has never been played here before,” Fuller said of his squad moving back to Virginia.
When the team was in Charles Town, they were the only member of the Valley Baseball League (VBL) to be located outside the state of Virginia. Now, they have moved to Fireman’s Field, a place that the players seem to take a strong interest in. “When I got here, I could definitely feel a great atmosphere in the city and the field is in the center of town and seems like a great facility,” Doudican said.
The Cannons may be on the road to start their season, but they will host their first game at Fireman’s Field on Friday, a matchup with the New Market Rebels that Fuller hopes will draw a high number of fans to the ballpark. “I certainly expect a good turnout. From what we can anticipate, weather permitting, we’re looking at anywhere between 1200-1500 hundred people and we could eclipse that and be near 2,000, which would set the record for attendance in the history of the Valley League.”
But in the meantime, the Cannons have set their collective focus on Thursday’s season-opener against Front Royal. Last season against the Cardinals, the Cannons lost five of six contests, but did score 14 runs at Bing Crosby Stadium on July 19th, 2015, their second-highest offensive output of the year.
Overall, the Cannons finished 16-26 in the cellar of the North division, while the Cardinals ended the year atop the standings, but would lose to the Strasburg Express, the eventual VBL champions.