Huntington coach Brandon Cassell said his full complement of starters wasn't on the field in either of the Highlanders' two losses to Winfield during the regular season.
But when the teams get together in a Class AAA Region 4 semifinal at 6:30 tonight, it will be the host Generals' lineup that will be incomplete.
Starting centerfielder Barrett Arnold was ejected from Winfield's game at Point Pleasant on Friday and by rule must sit out 10 percent of the season, which means three games.
The Generals have relied on Arnold's offensive production all season as the senior has hit .365 with a pair of home runs and 24 stolen bases. His situation just adds to a game that's swirling with unique storylines but Winfield coach Will Isaacs said he and his players are moving forward.
"We're trying to put it behind us and move on," Isaacs said of Arnold's ineligibility. "It happened, and we're going to have to deal with it. Obviously it changes our team a little bit, but we're not going to cry around - we're going to practice well, try to play well, and compete."
Isaacs said Arnold's replacement would be a game-time decision but didn't hesitate in listing Mason Dillon as the Generals' starting pitcher.
Dillon will have to contend with a tested Highlanders lineup that had to get through tough games against Spring Valley and Cabell Midland in its section.
"[Spring Valley and Cabell Midland] are in our conference and we played each team four times, so we knew everything except for their shoe sizes, I believe," Cassell said. "Our guys have been playing against these kids since they were 12 and they had beat them at Huntington High and we finally put an end to it this year and it's a good feeling. We're battle-tested."
Tested and, by all accounts, peaking. The Highlanders feature seven hitters with a minimum of 50 at-bats with batting averages over .300. Joey Mundy leads the Huntington hit parade with a .380 batting average and a team-high 39 RBIs. Mundy has struck out an incredibly low six times in 108 at-bats.
"Really, two and a half or three weeks ago, we just started hitting the ball on the screws," Cassell said.
One thing is for sure, the Highlanders (18-16) haven't been able to get their offense on track against Winfield so far this year. The Generals edged the Highlanders 3-2 in the first game and rolled 15-3 in the second.
But Isaacs will be the first to say that the second game was an aberration and not the norm.
"The second game's score is not indicative of the type of team they have," Isaacs said. "Both times we beat them, they put the ball in play, so we've got to make plays and we can't give them any free bases."