MADISON — Connor Houser and his family have spent most of their summer vacations over the past five years at travel ball tournaments or college showcases.
The time spent has proven to be well worth it for the Madison County senior, who recently announced that he has verbally committed to play college baseball at Shenandoah University in Winchester.
“Shenandoah was always at the top for me,” Houser said. “After making numerous visits to other programs, I was sure SU was the right fit.”
Houser’s admiration for the Hornets’ program extends well beyond a single visit to the Winchester-area campus. The senior standout has been a regular at Coach Kevin Anderson’s baseball camp since he was in eighth grade and the two have formed a strong bond.
“Coach Anderson is very straightforward and honest,” Houser said. “He made no promises other than an opportunity to compete. Shenandoah players graduate at a very high rate. It didn’t hurt that Shenandoah has done exceptionally well in the postseason for many years.”
Houser said that he received interest from numerous Division II programs and most of Old Dominion Athletic Conference schools, but admitted Shenandoah was always high on his list.
“I really like the campus, the student environment, the Winchester area and especially the baseball coaching staff,” Houser said.
Houser has been a fixture for Madison County’s baseball program for the past three years. As a freshman, he was part of a team that qualified for the VHSL Class 2 state semifinals.
Last spring, he was a key contributor at the plate and on the hill for the Mountaineers. Houser hit .422 as a junior with a team-high 25 RBI. He was a first team Bull Run District and Region 2B performer as a designated hitter.
At the college level, Houser is expected to play a corner infield position. He has played third base for the Mountaineers since his freshman year, but Anderson and his staff believe he could play first base as well for the Hornets.
“The coaches like my size [6-4, 240] and my ability to play multiple positions on the field,” Houser said. “Plus, hitting coach Bruce Cameron said he really liked my left-handed swing.”
The Madison County product admits that Shenandoah doesn’t traditionally play a lot of true freshmen.
He understands that he may have to wait his turn but hopes to give Anderson and his staff something to think about and showing that he can help the team right away.
“I will have the opportunity to compete for playing time as a true freshman,” Houser said. “SU will be graduating several all-conference players this year, which should open up a few opportunities at DH, first base and the outfield.”
In the classroom, he hopes to major in secondary education, specializing in mathematics. Houser plans to pursue a career as a math teacher and coach baseball at the high school level following college.
The Madison County senior couldn’t be happier with his choice of schools.
“The decision was not that difficult,” Houser said. “The entire atmosphere at Shenandoah felt like a family. The coaches and players are all top notch. All the baseball players are required to adhere to very high character and academic standards.”
Unlike previous years, Houser said there’s no plans to visit any fall or winter prospect camps. Instead, he’s working out with former major league pitcher and Orange County High standout Chris Haney to help him refine his skills on the hill for the upcoming season.
“Right now, I’m working on improving my strength and athleticism,” Houser said. “I probably won’t itch in college, but I enjoy pitching for the Mountaineers. I am working out, focusing on classes and preparing for basketball and baseball seasons.”
Expectations are high this spring for the Madison County baseball team and Houser is excited to be a part of it.
“I hope to be a good leader, on and off the field,” he said. “We made it to the 2A state semifinals when I was a freshman and Coach David Londrey thinks we can have that kind of success this season and I agree with him.”
Houser credits his parents for helping him pursue this dream.
“My parents sacrificed most of their summers and falls for a lot of years so I could play all over in travel tournaments and college showcases,” he said. “It means a lot to know that all the hard work I have put into baseball, and their sacrifices, paid off.”