JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bradley Hodges is focused on the future and not looking back.
Well, maybe just a peek.
Hodges, the All-News4JAX baseball player of the year from St. Johns Country Day, just put a bow on one of the most dominant seasons ever by an area high school player.
He turned in a monster year for the Spartans, hitting .516 with 32 RBI, 11 doubles and nine home runs. The powerful left hander was even better on the mound, going 10-0, allowing just 18 hits all season and averaging nearly two strikeouts an inning.
Hodges is bound for the University of Virginia next — unless the Major League Baseball draft next month changes those plans — and has no regrets on how he and his Spartans teammates left the St. Johns program. The Spartans played for a state championship, finished runner-up in a national tournament and gave the Class 2A program more visibility in the sport than there’s ever been.
And that’s worth celebrating, even if it’s briefly.
“I don’t want to live too much in the past, but I definitely want to take pieces of what I learned this year, from a leadership standpoint and just as a player, and I want to take that with me to Virginia,” Hodges said. “So, it’s not like I’m living in the past but I do want to take what I’ve learned and hopefully get Virginia to a title next year.”
The most unforgettable moment of Hodges’ sterling career does require a bit of looking back. And surprisingly, it didn’t happen during his senior season, a year in which Hodges finished runner-up for the state’s Mr. Baseball honor and headlined the nationally recognized Spartans against some of the top competition in and out of state.
That came four years ago when Hodges was a freshman standing on the mound staring down University Christian with a shot at a district championship.
Coach Tom Lucas put the ball in Hodges’ hands, a game that still sticks out like a sore thumb Hodges’ high school resume.
Hodges faced 23 batters, struck out 19 of them and allowed just one hit. St. Johns won 8-0 for its first district championship since 1998.
It wound up as one of the final games he’d play with his brother, Jack, and delivered a title that was more than two decades in the making. That game finally got St. Johns over the hump and triggered a new era of Spartans dominance that will continue on into next season.
“Most memorable thing about my career is definitely a district championship my freshman year,” Hodges said.
“… [The strikeout total] wasn’t something I was focused about, it was just something that had happened. And it was just a special moment for me and looking over the stands and seeing people hold up signs and how many strikeouts there were. It was pretty cool. And I feel like after that was kind of the turning point in our program.”
Hodges committed to Virginia, one of the country’s top programs three months later.
The Spartans were officially back on the map.
Hodges fronted a lineup that was the area’s toughest for the better part of the last three years.
St. Johns had won all of two FHSAA playoff games in a history that dated back to 1977 before Hodges and the Class of 2022 arrived. From 2019 through this season, the Spartans won six postseason games and played for the Class 2A state title in 2021. The pandemic-scuttled season in 2020 kept that total lower than it should have. And while this season ended at 23-5 and an upset loss in the regional finals to Tallahassee North Florida Christian, Hodges said the ride was a good one.
“It was definitely an emotional career for me at St. Johns,” Hodges said. “We went through a lot. And there’s a lot of ups and a lot of downs but they’re all fun moments for me.”
Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable
P, Garrett Corbett, Bishop Kenny, Jr.
Excellent season for the Crusaders ace. Went 7-0 with 1.21 ERA, 51 Ks in 52 IP. Logged 4 complete games. Was a second-team All-News4JAX selection last year.
P, Bradley Hodges, St. Johns CD, Sr.
All-News4JAX player of the year was thoroughly dominant in his final season. Went 10-0 with 121 Ks in 63 IP and allowed just 18 hits. Hit .526 with 9 HR, 35 RBI, 30 runs scored, 11 doubles. Virginia signee and runner-up in Mr. Baseball voting.
P, Ashton Pocol, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Went 5-1 with 71 Ks, 1.88 ERA in 56 IP. University of Tampa signee.
P, Malachi Witherspoon, Fletcher, Sr.
Dominant two-way player for Senators. Went 9-2 with 95 Ks, 1.31 ERA on the mound. Hit .493 with 5 HR, 28 RBI, 21 runs. JU signee.
C, Hunter Carns, First Coast, So.
Rising star is a two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Hit .523 with 4 HR. 21 stolen bases, 14 RBI. Florida State commit.
IF, Colton Avera, Trinity Christian, Sr.
Excellent final season for the Conquerors. Led team in the Triple Crown categories (.377, 6 HR, 32 RBI). Also, a team-best 23 runs for 20-9 Trinity.
IF, Matthew Gill, Suwannee, Sr.
Multiple votes from coaches as area’s top player. Hit .453 with 30 RBI, 2 HR, 33 runs scored in leading Bulldogs to 4A state semis. On the mound, he was 4-1 with 2 saves, 3.16 ERA, 79 Ks in 55.1 IP.
IF, Finn Howell, St. Johns Country Day, Sr.
The pitcher/infielder was a two-way threat. Hit .424 with 36 hits, 8 doubles and 3 HR. On the mound, he lost just two games in career that began with a varsity appearance in 8th grade. Was 4-1 with 0.86 ERA, 40 Ks in 32.2 IP. UNF signee. Second-team All-News4JAX selection last year.
IF, Justin Nadeau, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Two-time All-News4JAX selection. Hit .372 with 20 RBI, 35 runs scored, 6 HR and 7 doubles. JU signee.
OF, Brody DeLamielleure, Bartram Trail, Jr.
Led the Bears in average (.409), hits (38), RBI (23) and triples (2). Had 3 homers. Committed to Notre Dame.
OF, Jordan Taylor, St. Johns CD, Sr.
Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Multi-year star for Spartans. Hit .457 with, 8 doubles, 7 HR and 16 stolen bases. Florida State signee and likely MLB draft pick.
OF, Max Williams, Clay, Sr.
Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Led Blue Devils at the plate (.391, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 34 H, 27 runs scored). Alabama signee.
UT, Hayden Gustavson, Columbia, Jr.
Team-leading .372 average with a HR, 27 RBI, 32 hits, 14 doubles and 15 runs scored and paced Tigers to 5A state semifinals. Committed to Florida State. Whiffed 28 in 21.2 IP, had 2.58 ERA, 2 saves in limited time on the mound.
UT, Kyson Witherspoon, Fletcher, Sr.
Another two-way star for the Senators, he hit .308 with 4 HR, 17 RBI. On the mound, he was 4-1 with a sub-1.000 ERA, 74 Ks. Northwest Florida State College commit.
UT, Nick Wrubluski, Bishop Snyder, Sr.
Led Cardinals to their best season, hitting .480 with a HR, 21 RBI. Also went 3-0 on the mound with 63 Ks, 2.10 ERA in 43.1 IP. JU signee. Career .384 hitter for Snyder caught, pitched and played in the infield.
Pos., Player, School, Class
P, Brandon Adams, Clay, Sr.: Went 6-1 with 1.34 ERA, 84 Ks in 57.2 IP. Has signed with UNF.
P, Dylan Cope, First Coast, Sr.: Went 5-1 with 75 Ks, just 12 walks, 1.11 ERA in 42.2 IP. Also picked up 2 saves for 16-9 Buccaneers.
P, Aidan King, Bishop Snyder, So.: Ace of Cardinals district champion team. Went 6-2 with 72 Ks, just 12 walks and 1.63 ERA in 51.6 IP. Hit .340 with 20 RBI, 10 runs scored.
P, Jordan Martin, Mandarin, Sr.: Went 5-2 with 0.95 ERA, 73 Ks and a save in 51.1 IP for 17-6 Mustangs.
C, Hayden Perry, Episcopal, Sr.: Hit .325 for the Eagles with team-highs in HR (5), hits (27), RBI (27). Didn’t miss an inning behind the plate over the last 2 seasons. Samford signee.
IF Nove Masci, Providence, Jr.: Second on the Stallions in batting (.344). Led the team in RBI (31), hits (31) and doubles (9) against one of the toughest schedules in the state.
IF, Peyton Waters, Suwannee, Sr.: Hit .390 for the state semifinalist Bulldogs. Tied for team lead with 30 RBI and scored 19 runs. Team-best 5 HRs.
IF, Cooper Whited, Sandalwood, Jr.: Pitcher and first baseman went 5-1 on the mound with 2.32 ERA, 58 Ks in 45.1 IP. Hit .369 with 24 hits, 14 runs scored, 9 RBI.
OF, Sean Benjamin, Fernandina Beach, So.: Led Pirates to regional finals. Hit .361 with team highs in HR (2) and RBI (27).
OF, Sully Brackin, Bolles, Sr.: A mainstay in Bulldogs’ lineup on the mound and at the plate.
OF Andrew Tabor, Bishop Kenny, Sr.: Hit .412 with a HR, 15 RBI, 33 hits and 28 runs scored in helping push Crusaders to regional finals.
UT, Leo Diaz, Oakleaf, Sr.: Hit .370 with 20 RBI, 27 hits and 3 HR, all team bests for 16-10 Knights.
UT, Chandler Howard, Columbia, Sr.: Hit .367 with team-best 36 hits to help lead Tigers to 5A state semis. Had 11 doubles. Had 24 Ks in 25 IP, save, 1.96 ERA in pitching role.
UT, Eli Maddox, Paxon, Sr.: Hit .417 with 17 extra-base hits, 21 RBI. JU signee played catcher and outfield for Golden Eagles.
UT, Trenten May, University Christian, Sr.: Hit .397 with 18 stolen bases for Christians. On the mound, he was 6-0 with 55 Ks in 53 IP, 1.50 ERA.
Pos., Player, School, Class
UT, Mo Alamo, Wolfson, Jr.
IF, Seth Alford, University Christian, So.
IF, Sean Ashenfelder, Creeksider, Fr.
IF, Alonzo Austin, Trinity Christian, Sr.
C, Alex Bairan, Stanton, Jr.
C, Ben Barrow, Providence, Jr.
IF, Tyler Bernstein, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
OF, Josh Biringer, Bishop Kenny, Sr.
OF, Kyle Boylston, St. Johns CD, So.
IF, Holden Bradshaw, Sandalwood, Jr.
OF, Jay Cohen, Union County, Sr.
IF/P, Brett Corbitt, Eagle’s View, Jr.
OF, Kody Daneault, St. Johns CD, So.
P, Brett Dennis, Providence, Jr.
IF, Jackson Denton, Fernandina Beach, Jr.
IF, Cole Durham, Stanton, Jr.
OF, Devin Dzion, Oakleaf, Jr.
P, Brady Ellison, Trinity Christian, Sr.
P/IF, Austin Eppley, Episcopal, Sr.
P, Evan Faulkner, Paxon, Sr.
IF, Josh Fernald, Suwannee, Jr.
IF/P, Jonathan Fischer, Fort White, Sr.
C, Eric Fouraker, Trinity Christian, Sr.
UT, Jomar Garcia, Englewood, Sr.
UT, Jonathan Germany, Palatka, Sr.
IF, Billy Girgis, Ridgeview, Jr.
IF, Tucker Hardee, Fort White, Jr.
OF, Levarn Harvin, Baldwin, Sr.
IF/ P, Tucker Hardee, Fort White, Jr.
OF, Malcolm Harvin, Baldwin, Sr.
OF, Dalton Hollingsworth, Keystone Heights, Sr.
P, Luke Hayes, St. Augustine, Sr.
P, Clay Hendry, Middleburg, Sr.
IF/P, Kaden Hobbs, Hilliard, Sr.
UT, Andrew Johnson, Providence, So.
OF, Jamil Jones, Baker County, Sr.
P, Jake Larson, Nease, Jr.
IF, Alex Lodise, Bartram Trail, Sr.
P, Patric Menk, Bolles, Sr.
IF, Charley Mims, Parker, Sr.
UT, Ian Moore, Episcopal, Sr.
P/IF, Jack Newman, Bishop Kenny, Jr.
IF, Angel Oquendo, Fletcher, Sr.
IF/P, Sebastian Ortiz, Bishop Snyder, Sr.
OF, Logan Padgett, Middleburg, Sr.
C, Dom Patruno, Englewood, Fr.
UT, Jordan Rhoden, Baldwin, Sr.
IF, Evan Rodriguez, St. Joseph, Sr.
P/IF, Andrew Stancin, Stanton, Jr.
P, Dakota Stone, Sandalwood, Sr.
OF, Abram Summers, Fleming Island, Jr.
P, Divine Valle, Fleming Island, Sr.
P, Nathan Webb, Mandarin, Sr.
P/IF, Logan Wilson, Clay, Sr.
OF, Brady Wright, University Christian, Jr.