- - Saturday, June 23, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Andrew Rash thought he’d be playing professional baseball this summer. Instead, the Virginia Tech senior finds himself in limbo, unsure if he’ll return to the Hokies for one more season or just move on with his life after baseball.

“I don’t really know right now what I’m going to do,” Rash said from his family’s South Carolina home this week. “I’d love to come back and play. At the same time, I have to see what’s best for me and what’s best for the baseball program.”

Rash is set to graduate from Tech in December. Many, including Rash, assumed he’d be selected in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft earlier this month. He didn’t join any summer league team and the Hokies’ baseball program didn’t set aside any scholarship funds for him to play in 2013.

But while Tech teammates Ronnie Shaban, the former Cosby High School star, and Joe Mantiply were selected, Rash’s name wasn’t called during the 40 rounds of the draft.

“It was frustrating,” Rash said. “I was getting a lot of interest from teams. It was definitely a frustrating process. I don’t understand a lot of it.”

What Rash does understand is that a subpar season combined with injury questions is probably what dropped his draft stock.

As a sophomore in 2011, he hit .335 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI, all career highs. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 36th round, but opted to return to Virginia Tech to play another season for the Hokies and raise his draft stock.

Instead, Rash hit .273 this season, the lowest average of his three-year Hokies career, with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs.

It was part of a disappointing year for the Hokies, who went 34-21 and missed the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament after finishing 11-19 in league play.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Rash missed the final two games, ACC contests at North Carolina, with a concussion.

“He’s one of the top kids in the league,” Tech coach Pete Hughes said. “He had a bad year. I was hurting for him, too. He deserves the chance to play at the next level.”

Hughes would like to give Rash a chance to play one final season for the Hokies, if he can make the numbers work.

“We’re trying to make that happen,” Hughes said. “We definitely want him in uniform for us.”

Cancer claimed Rash’s father when Rash was just 6, and his mother, Frances, raised him and his two sisters. Now, Rash doesn’t want to place an extra financial burden on his mother just so he can spend one more year playing baseball.

“We’ll try to make it happen,” Hughes said. “He’s someone we’d like to have in our program.”

Rash is confident Hughes will help him out if possible.

“I know he’ll do what he can for me,” Rash said. “He always has.”

Read more about the Hokies at TimesDispatch.com