Top players take field
HUNTINGTON — Local baseball fans have a chance to see at least two potential future greats as Class AAA high school baseball gets under way in the Mountain State.
Spring Valley senior Elijah Wellman, and Huntington High junior Joe Mundy are two of the most explosive players in the state -- Wellman as a shutdown ace, and Mundy as a dangerous batter at shortstop.
Some may recognize Wellman more from the gridiron, where he led Spring Valley to its first playoff win in program history and signed to play for West Virginia University.
But Wellman is also a dominating presence on the mound, with a cannon arm capable of delivering a fastball at over 90 mph.
"He's fun to watch," said Timberwolves coach Jim Hensley. "He improved so much last year from his sophomore year."
Hensley said Wellman's continued progression has to do with his work ethic and his attention to detail.
"I think it's his concentration that's gotten better," Hensley said. "He used to walk the bases full and then strike out three batters in a row. Now, it's like just strike out the first three batters. Naturally, we're expecting big things from him."
A few miles away, the Highlanders are counting on a big season from Mundy, who is turning into a slugging sensation.
"He may be one of the best hitters in the state, if not the best," said coach Danny Harbert. "His work ethic and dedication to hitting, I've never seen it in any other player. He hits for two hours a day on top of what we do in practice. Everywhere he goes he's got 'The Science of Hitting' by Ted Williams with him. It's like a Bible to him."
Of course, both coaches know their teams are built around more than one player.
"We have a few more seniors than we normally do, and I think they expect a lot out of themselves," Hensley said. "This team is a real team, you can tell they really get along. Sometimes you get 20 kids and not everyone likes each other. These guys like each other and expect a lot out of each other."
Huntington High is taking six days to go to Myrtle Beach to bond as a team, taking part in the Cal Ripken Jr. Experience.
"It's a business trip for us," Harbert said. "We're not looking at it like we're going to Myrtle Beach, we're looking at it like we're going to this thing to become better baseball players and we'll go to the beach or the movies or something after we put in the work, and we'll grow together as a team."
Some of that team initiative is already being provided by Mundy and the club's best pitcher, Stephen Holland.
"They do everything right on and off the field and lead by example," Harbert said. "They put in the work and they don't think that they're better than anybody."
The Highlanders won the section in 2012, and Harbert is hoping the team can build on that in 2013.
"Everyone has a job to do, and as long as they're doing it, we'll go far," he said.
At Cabell Midland, some young players have grown into their spikes after the 2012 campaign, and coach Tracy Brumfield is excited to see if that will translate to success in 2013.
"We didn't dumb down our schedule any, and we probably had the worst season we've ever had," Brumfield said. "But that tough competition made us better, and by the end of the season we were playing much better and still had a shot at a conference title."
The Knights return Cody Ballangee, who is just a sophomore, at third base and young pitcher Seth Kinker who figures to be the main man in the rotation.
"Our expectations, just like anything else at (Midland), we want to have a winning season," Brumfield said. "The schedule we play, it's tough, but we want to get better each day and be playing our best by the end of the season."
In Class AA, perennial contender Wayne is in rebuild mode.
Last year the Pioneers lost to Herbert Hoover in the final inning, denying a trip to the state tournament.
"We lost seven of our nine starters," said coach Todd Ross. "We've got 17 kids in uniform, this is the most inexperienced team I've had in my time here, and it's also the first time we haven't had enough for a junior varsity team."
Ross attributes the change in climate in the Pioneers' program to the rising popularity of travel club baseball and community leagues.
Still, he said he expects his team to show up for every contest.
"We just need to focus on fundamentals and staying in the game," he said. "The regular season might be tough, but I think we still have enough good pitching and hitting to make the playoffs and hopefully make a run."
Cabell Midland: March 18, at Nitro; March 19, at Parkersburg; March 20, Logan; March 22, at Winfield; March 23, at Greenup County, East Carter; March 25, at Hurricane; March 28, at George Washington; March 29, at Huntington High; March 30, at Poca.
April 1, Spring Valley; April 2, Brighton, N.Y.; April 4, Ripley, April 8, South Charleston; April 9, Winfield; April 10, Huntington High; April 13, Pikeville at Boyd County; April 13, at Boyd County; April 15, at Logan; April 16, St. Albans; April 17, Hurricane; April 19, Wyoming East at Beckley; April 20, Princeton at Beckley; April 22, Boyd County; April 23, at Spring Valley; April 24, Nitro; April 26, at Capital; April 29-30, MSAC.
May 1, Poca; May 3 Wayne.
Hurricane: March 19, Ripley, March 20, at Winfield; March 21, at South Charleston; March 25, Lincoln County; March 26, Cabell Midland; March 28, Logan, March 29, at Spring Valley.
April 2, at Mingo Bay Classic; April 10, at Nitro; April 12-13 at Ed Carter Invitational; April 15, at Lincoln County; April 16, Capital; April 17, at Cabell Midland; April 19, Winfield; April 22, St. Albans; April 23, at Parkersburg, April 25, at Huntington High; April 26, at Logan; April 29, MSAC.
May 2, Spring Valley; May 4, Point Pleasant.
Huntington High: March 18-19 at Champaigne Central; March 20, at Germantown Friends; March 22, at Lodi; March 23, at Landon School; March 26, at St. Albans; March 28, Lawrence County (Ky.); March 29, Cabell Midland; March 30, Chesapeake.
April 1, Winfield; April 4, at Wayne; April 6, at Ballard (Ky.), Avon Springs Indianapolis; April 9, Spring Valley; April 10, at Cabell Midland; April 11, Ripley; April 15, at Winfield; April 16, Nitro; April 17, George Washington; April 18, Wayne; April 19-20, Jack Cook Tournament; April 22, at Lawrence County (Ky.); Spril 23, at South Charleston; April 25, Hurricane; April 26, Paintsville, Ky.; April 27, at Spring Valley; April 29, MSAC.
May 1, Point Pleasant; May 2, Chesapeake.
Nitro: March 16, at Sissonville; March 18, Cabell Midland; March 19, at Parkersburg South; March 21, at Capital; March 25, Point Pleasant; March 26, Parkersburg South; March 29, at Riverside.
April 1, Liberty; April 2, Parkersburg; April 3, Sissonville; April 4, at Richlands, Va.; April 6, Oak Hill; April 9, Logan; April 10, Hurricane; April 11, at Spring Valley; April 12-13, at Chapmanville Tournament; April 15, Ripley; April 16, at Huntington High; April 19, North Marion; April 20, Nitro Tournament; April 22, at Logan; April 23, St. Albans; April 24, at Cabell Midland; April 26, at Buckhannon-Upshur; April 27, at Washington; April 29, MSAC. April 30, at Oak Hill.
May 1, Winfield, May 2, Riverside.
Point Pleasant: March 16, Wayne; March 20, Ripley; March 22, at Chapmanville; March 23, Charleston Catholic; March 25, at Nitro; March 26, at Wahama; March 27, Ravenswood; March 28, Scott; March 29, Winfield.
April 8, Wahama; April 9, at Scott; April 10, at Roane County; April 11, at Winfield; April 15, at Wayne; April 18, Sissonville; April 19, at Herbert Hoover; April 20, Poca; April 22, Gallia Academy; April 23, at Charleston Catholic; April 26, at Ripley; April 29, Herbert Hoover; Apri 30, at Poca.
May 1, at Huntington High; May 2, Chapmanville; May 3, at Gallia Academy; May 4, at Hurricane.
Riverside: March 16, Sherman; March 18, at Capital; March 19, Princeton; March 21, at St. Albans; March 23, Shady Spring (doubleheader); March 26, at Chesapeake; March 27, at South Charleston; Marh 28, Eastchester, N.Y. at Winfield; March 29, Nitro.
April 1, Ripley; April 2, at Winfield; April 3, Brighton, N.Y.; April 8, Ravenswood; April 9, Parkersburg; April 11, at Sherman; April 12, George Washington, Hurricane at Ed Carter Tournament; April 13, TBA; April 16, at Parkersburg; April 18, St. Albans; April 19, at Woodrow Wilson; April 22, at Ripley; April 23, at Princeton; April 25, at Roane County; April 26, Winfield; April 29, MSAC.
May 1, South Charleston; May 2, at Nitro.
Spring Valley: March 20, Woodrow Wilson; March 23, South Charleston; March 25, at Ripley; March 26, at Winfield; March 27, at Wayne; March 28, at St. Albans; March 29, Hurricane.
April 1, at Cabell Midland; April 5, at Cincinnati; April 8, George Washington; April 9, at Huntington High; April 10, at Lincoln County; April 11, Nitro; April 12, at South Charleston; April 17, at Greenup County; April 20, at Greenup County; April 23, Cabell Midland; April 24, at Woodrow Wilson; April 25, Wayne; April 26, Parkersburg; April 27, Huntington High; April 29, MSAC.
May 1, Greenup County; May 3, Winfield; May 4, Boyd County (doubleheader).
Huntington St. Joe: March 25, Cross Lanes Christian; March 26, Tug Valley; March 27, Buffalo; March 29, Teays Valley Christian.
April 2, at Fairview; April 4, South Point; April 6, Lewis County, Ky., Elliott County, Ky.; April 8, Cross Lanes Christian; April 9, at Hannan; April 12-13, TBA, Catholic Tournament at Weirton; April 15, at South Point; April 16, at Chesapeake; April 18, at Fairland; April 19, at Huntington High; April 20, TBA at Huntington High; April 22, at Tug Valley; April 23, at Fairview; April 25, Hannan; April 30, at Buffalo.
May 4, Teays Valley Christian.
Wayne: March 16, at Point Pleasant; March 19, Poca; March 22, at Sissonville; March 23, Mingo Central (doubleheader); March 25, at Scott; March 27, Spring Valley; March 29, Sissonville.
April 3, Herbert Hoover; April 4, Huntington High; April 6, Fairland (doubleheader); April 8, Lincoln County; April 9, at Chesapeake; April 12-13, at Chapmanville Tournament; April 15, Point Pleasant; April 16, Tolsia; April 18, at Huntington High; April 19, at Champanville; April 22, at Poca; April 23, Chesapeake; April 25, at Spring Valley; April 26, at Herbert Hoover; April 29, Scott.
May 1, at Lincoln County; May 3, at Cabell Midland.
Winfield: March 16, St. Albans; March 18, at Parkersburg South; March 19, Herbert Hoover; March 20, Hurricane; March 22, Cabell Midland; March 25, at South Charleston; March 26, Spring Valley; March 28, East Chester, N.Y.; March 29, at Point Pleasant.
April 1, at Huntington High; April 2, Riverside; April 5, at Ripley; April 6, Preston (doubleheader); April 9, at Cabell Midland; April 10, at George Washington; April 11, Point Pleasant; April 13, at Logan; April 15, Huntingto High; April 17, Poca; April 18, at Herbert Hoover; April 19, at Hurricane; April 22, South Charleston; Parkersburg South, April 25, Poca; April 26, at Riverside; April 27, Logan; April 29, MSAC.
May 1, at Nitro; May 3, at Spring Valley.