Herbert Hoover junior Corey Bird made the Huskies go. When he went, so did they - all the way to the state tournament.
That's why the hard-nosed center fielder captains the Class AA all-state baseball first team, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
A symbol of Bird's grittiness was the sight of the speedy leadoff hitter, face askew, chugging toward third for a two-run triple and scoring on an overthrow against Wayne in the Region 4 championship game - a play that propelled Hoover to the state tournament for the first time since 2007.
"When there are runners on base, I try to be as productive as possible," said Bird, who finished with 31 RBIs from the leadoff spot. "Whether it's moving them over, or hitting a ball in the gap or down the line to score them. I try to be as smart as possible, swing only at strikes. That's been my biggest thing and put the barrel on the bat."
Bird struck out only once this season. That came in a May 2 loss to Point Pleasant, the team the Huskies beat 7-1 in the Class AA state semifinals. He hit safety in all but four games this season and had 20 multiple-hit games, including seven in the last nine.
He batted .483 with 27 walks and 40 stolen bases, with four of those coming in Hoover's 1-0 Class AA state championship game defeat to Wyoming East. Bird was thrown out for only the third time this season when Warriors' catcher Zack Whitten caught him stealing in the first inning. Bird then stole four bases, including third base.
Just how important was Bird to Hoover's success? He failed to score a run in seven of Hoover's 35 games this season, including the state championship, and the Huskies were 2-5 in those contests.
Bird missed some off-season time because of a broken wrist, but didn't fail to keep himself in playing shape.
"I was out for two or three months," Bird said. "I was working out my legs, but I worked hard, because I want to play Division I baseball so bad. Just working hard and playing every day and keeping my head straight are the biggest keys for me."
Bird, a second-team selection last year, headlines an all-state first team that includes only one first-team repeat choice from 2011 - Wayne outfielder Tyler Adkins.
Adkins led Wayne to the Region 4 championship game against Hoover, batting .489 with 37 RBIs, four home runs and 11 doubles.