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Future looks bright for Hurricane baseball

May. 01, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

HURRICANE -- Brian Sutphin will be the first to tell you that he inherited a good situation as the head baseball coach at Hurricane this year.

In his first year guiding the Redskins, the team has been highly ranked statewide in Class AAA and looks to be heading toward better things in the post-season.

"Hurricane has a strong baseball tradition," said Sutphin. "Coach (Billy Joe) Hicks and his staff did a great job. They always fielded good teams. They had a remarkable run of really good players that went on to play in college and do some great things. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to come here and coach."

But it's not all about wins and losses. The talent that Sutphin found on the Hurricane roster is a veteran group that already knew how to win. And Lola Meeks Field is one of the best in the area.

"We really have a nice facility," Sutphin said. "A lot of work went into it. They really upgraded it. We're very fortunate. The kids have the best opportunity to succeed, no question. We'll continue to try to improve on it over the next few years."

Sutphin has plenty of coaching experience. He was an assistant coach at his alma mater St. Albans for the past five years. He was the head coach at Nitro from 1997 to 1999, went to West Virginia University as an assistant in 2000 and was the head coach at Alderson-Broaddus from 2001 to 2003 before returning to the high school ranks.

"One of the first things that I did (at Hurricane) was go out and get some good assistant coaches," Sutphin said. "I've been very fortunate on that end."

Billy Biggs is one of those coaches. He is a former Hurricane standout who went on to pitch at WVU.

"Billy played there when I was coaching at WVU," Sutphin said. "That's when I really got to know him. When I was at Nitro, we couldn't beat Hurricane (with Biggs pitching)."

The Redskins' hitting coach is Kyle Jones, a native of Pennsylvania and a former first-team All-American at West Virginia State University. He was the home run leader in NCAA Division II for 2006.

Ryan Brown is another Hurricane player that has returned to coach for the Redskins.

"They're not only good baseball coaches but they're good people," Sutphin said of his staff. "They're the type of guys that you want around high school kids."

They have plenty of talent to work with this season.

Brett Barber is a shortstop and pitcher for the Redskins. He has already signed to play at Ohio University.

Barber has enjoyed a dominant year on the mound, with an earned run average of 0.60, 54 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched and a 4-0 record. He has also contributed 15 stolen bases on offense.

"Brett is a talented young man that does well in the classroom and the field," said Sutphin. "He's getting better every time out. He gives us a chance to win every time he goes out (to pitch).

Senior outfielder Jordan Stowers is hitting .390 and has 19 RBI and leads the Redskins with four home runs.

"Jordan comes from a long line of players at Hurricane," Sutphin pointed out. "His dad and two brothers played here at Hurricane and at West Virginia State. Jordan has put a lot of time and work into it during the off-season. He's gotten stronger and he's really coming into his own. He's improving every day."

Other seniors contributors include James Eminger, Stephen Workman and Parker Lang.

Eminger is carrying a batting average in the range of .430 for the season, one of the top marks in the state. Workman has 19 RBI and Wheeling Jesuit recruit Parker Lang is another exceptional student and player who plays pitcher and outfield.

"James has really stepped up for us," Sutphin stated. "He's definitely getting better and plays hard. Stephen has played second base and outfield for us. He's a solid baseball player that is versatile."

"This group of guys believe in each other," said Sutphin. "They'll find a way to get it done. They're fun to be around."