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Larry Butcher/For The Herald-Dispatch Hurricane's Tyler Cox (16) plays a ground ball against Huntington during the West Virginia Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 baseball tournament, on Monday, May 8, 2017 at Hurricane High School.

HURRICANE, W.Va. - Tyler Cox doesn't do much of anything on the baseball field like a freshman.

The Hurricane High School ninth grader has pitched like a senior, earning victories in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game; the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 title game; and the Class AAA, Region IV championship contest. Not bad for a kid who had thrown one varsity inning all season until May 16.

"I just go out and try to help the team," Cox said.

Cox gave up two runs on five hits, struck out two and walked one Friday as the Redskins (29-8) defeated Ripley, 9-2, to earn a berth in the Class AAA state tournament semifinals where they'll play Morgantown (21-8) at 10 a.m. Friday at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

He had pitched in a couple of junior varsity games this spring and caught the eye of Hurricane varsity head coach Brian Sutphin, who had no qualms about running the youngster out against strong opponents such as Cabell Midland and Ripley in big games.

"I think it shows some resiliency," Sutphin said of Cox's performances. "He's a tough-minded kid. He was a wrestler growing up and he had that mental toughness instilled in him. He stays the course and doesn't back down. He's not the kind of kid who gets too rattled."

About the only area Cox needed work in was his interview skills. During his first discussion with a reporter this season, Cox talked about girls more than he did baseball. By the time the Region IV final came around, Cox had honed those skills, too, keeping his composure even when a teammate sneaked up behind him and poured a bottle of water on his head.

"It feels pretty good," Cox said of his performance as he calmly tried to deflect water from his face. "I have a lot of confidence in my defense behind me."

Cox has earned the respect of his teammates.

"To do what he's done as a freshman, he's something else," said Hurricane outfielder Noah Short. "To pitch the MSAC, sectional and regional championship games, that's a big year for him. He's come in and shown what he can do."

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