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Area baseball teams tested by mandatory layoff

Kenny Kemp
First baseman Nelson McKown has been a top hitter all season for Charleston Catholic, one of six area teams that have wrapped up regional spots.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Area baseball coaches can only shake their heads in dismay this week as the few first days flip off the calendar. The irony has not eluded them.

After wading through the first week of the postseason, in which virtually every day was a rain day, the weather forecast for today to Wednesday looks mighty good - sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

Only they can't play games until Thursday because of the state-imposed moratorium on athletic events due to the implementation of the Westest standardized testing system.

Forget the fact that Kanawha County schools took the Westest last week - and for the most part, still played games during the process. They can only practice the first three days and many of them can't wrap up sectionals that hang in the balance even as regionals loom.

"It's just crazy the way they do this for baseball,'' said George Washington coach Chad Campbell, whose team still has some unfinished business with South Charleston in Class AAA Region 3 Section 3.

"It's not a game where you play once a week. You've got to get consistency - hitting more than anything. You see live pitching one day, then sit for five days. We'll try some simulation stuff this week and let our pitchers throw a little bit. You've got to remind them every day what they're playing for and what's at stake and try to keep ready.''

Six area teams were able to complete their sectionals by Saturday and earn berths in the regionals, which begin on May 20 for Class AAA and half of Class A and May 21 in AA and the other half of Class A (see schedules, Page 2B).

Those teams are Riverside, Winfield and Hurricane (AAA), Sissonville (AA) and Charleston Catholic and Valley (A).

Several other sectionals are left incomplete as week two of the postseason (and nice weather) begins:

  • GW and SC must play the third and deciding game of their best-of-three series Thursday at the Black Eagles' home base;
  • St. Albans and Logan, each holding one loss in AAA Region 4 Section 2, play a winner-take-all game Thursday at SA;
  • Herbert Hoover has no losses and Clay County one loss in AA Region 4 Section 1, which resumes Thursday at Clay;
  • Chapmanville and Scott were able to hold just one game in AA Region 4 Section 3, with the Skyhawks up 1-0, and could be forced into two more games.
  • If the above sectionals - especially the latter two - don't wrap up Thursday (or if wet weather resurfaces), they're walking a fine line on getting done before the regionals start. That jumbles up the pitching assignments and could leave some teams without their aces when the single-elimination regional showdowns take place.

    "Who knows how many pitchers you're going to use late in the week?'' Campbell said. "That sets you up for a disadvantage.''

    Teams that have won sectionals are permitted to play regular-season games starting Thursday to tune up for the regionals. Generally, they are cross-class contests, pitting triple-A teams against double-As or single-As so as not to match teams that could wind up meeting somewhere in the postseason.

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  • Only three area teams were eliminated last week - Capital and Nitro in AAA and Poca in AA.

    Nitro had won its section and region each of the last six years and gone on to play in the state tournament at Power Park, winning two titles and finishing as runner-up two other times under coach Steve Pritchard.

    Poca (23-9), which was upset by Sissonville (13-21), became the state's highest-ranked team to get erased in the sectionals. The Dots began last week as the No. 5 team in the Gazette's Class AA state ratings.

    During the regular season, Poca was the only team to have beaten the state's No. 1 (Hoover) and No. 2 (at the time, Bridgeport) in AA. The Dots also beat the Indians 10-0 and 15-3 in the regular season.

    Sissonville has now taken four in a row heading into regional play after winning back-to-back games just once before in the regular season. The Indians will meet up with either Hoover or Clay in the regional semifinals.

    Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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