Short-memory time for Hoover
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Perhaps Herbert Hoover should have used disappearing ink in the scorebook for its first two games against Sissonville.
Huskies coach Brian Young would like his team to forget about a pair of lopsided wins against the Indians six weeks ago and concentrate instead on the present, as the two Kanawha Valley teams lock up at 6 p.m. today in Falling Rock in the Class AA Region 4 semifinals.
Hoover (27-3), which comes into the game as the No. 1 team in the Gazette's AA state rankings, crushed the Indians in back-to-back games - 8-1 on April 4 and 14-0 on April 8.
"We trying to keep them focused,'' Young said of his players. "We told them those games are warmups and practice. At this time of the year, it doesn't mean anything what you've done early in the season. They understand that and they're focused on what they've got to do.''
The fact that Sissonville (14-20) upset state-ranked Poca in the sectionals, sweeping both games from the Dots, certainly helps Young keep his players' attention.
"They understand,'' Young said. "They're a focused bunch. The season started to wear on them a little bit there, but once we got to later in the year and we got to the sectionals, they refocused and now we're almost like the team we were at the beginning of the season. They've worked hard and they know exactly what's at hand.''
Young is unsure if he'll go with ace Tristan Fields (6-1, 1.98 ERA) on the mound tonight, or if he'll use Cody Bowen (5-1, 1.75) or Corey Bird (4-0, 1.08). Sissonville will likely counter with its No. 1 pitcher, left-hander Zach Null (5-4, 2.38, 73 strikeouts in 672/3 innings).
Hoover's top hitters are Bird (.481, 45 stolen bases), Ryan Shamblin (.447, 37 RBIs), Austin Thomas (.455, 38 RBIs), Fields (.423, six homers, 40 RBIs), Bowen (.423, 32 RBIs) and Shaun Dotson (.405, 42 RBIs).
Sissonville's offense revolves around Null (.484, 27 RBIs), Josh Landis (26 RBIs) and Jacob Fisher (24 steals).
Since Hoover's graduation is set for tonight, the seniors on the baseball team will participate in a short graduation ceremony before the game.
The other half of AA Region 4 tonight pits Wayne (12-15) at Scott (18-15), which knocked off another ranked team, Chapmanville, in sectional play.
The Pioneers have beaten the Skyhawks twice this season, 3-2 and 6-1.
Today's winners advance to the regional finals on Thursday, with a berth in the state tournament at Power Park at stake. The survivor between Hoover and Sissonville serves as home team in the finals.
Another regional semifinal set for today finds Man (6-20-1) visiting No. 6 Valley (21-8) in a Class A Region 3 tilt at 5:30 p.m. in Smithers.
The Greyhounds won both regular-season games, but the second contest was just a 5-3 verdict after a 15-5 score in the first meeting.
Valley swept its sectional series with Sherman despite having two key players battling injuries - pitcher Arik McGinnis (thumb on his non-throwing hand) and third baseman John Riddle (hip flexor). Both played in the sectional.
Either McGinnis (3-3, 3.23, 74 Ks in 39 innings), a left-hander, or righty Druw Bowen (6-0, 2.21, 64 Ks in 38 innings) will get the call on the mound for Valley.
The Greyhounds also feature eight players hitting .394 or better - McGinnis (.483, 40 RBIs), Cody Winter (.481, five homers, 25 RBIs), Mark Hess (.463), Raeshawn Breckenridge (.441, eight homers, 40 RBIs, 21 steals), Drew Jones (.429, 36 steals), Riddle (.426), Todd Coleman (.414) and Bowen (.394, five homers, 33 RBIs).
No stats were available on the Hillbillies, but they've won five of their last eight games after a rocky start, caused by losing 10 seniors off last year's squad.
Man has played a challenging schedule, going 0-12-1 against teams ranked in AAA, AA or Class A.
The Riverside at South Charleston Class AAA Region 3 semifinal scheduled for Monday was postponed until today at 6 p.m.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.