CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The old joke about West Virginians and Myrtle Beach, S.C., certainly rings true next week.
The Grand Strand area really will resemble the Mountain State's 56th county as two dozen high school baseball teams arrive for tournament play, most of them for the Mingo Bay Classic.
It's certainly nothing new for West Virginia teams to spend their spring break vacation week competing in Myrtle Beach-area events, but the proliferation of state schools this year has mushroomed.
More than half of the Kanawha Valley's 13 baseball squads (seven in all) are scheduled to appear in the blockbuster Mingo Bay tournament - Buffalo, Capital, Charleston Catholic, George Washington, Hurricane, South Charleston and St. Albans.
The Eastern Panhandle will also be well-represented at the beach, with all six Class AAA members taking part - Hampshire, Hedgesville, Jefferson, Martinsburg, Musselman and Washington. A field of 76 teams competes in the Mingo Bay 2 field (17 from West Virginia) and 16 teams in Mingo Bay 3 (five from the state).
In fact, a majority of the AAA teams in the Gazette's state rankings will be on display in South Carolina - No. 2 Hurricane, No. 3 Hedgesville, No. 4 Jefferson, No. 6 Hampshire, No. 8 George Washington and No. 9 Martinsburg.
Three other state-ranked teams on hand include a pair of top-ranked schools - AA No. 1 Fairmont Senior and No. 6 Robert C. Byrd and Class A No. 1 Charleston Catholic. Fairmont Senior is competing in a tournament at the Cal Ripken Experience facility in Myrtle Beach.
Next week's invasion doesn't even count some West Virginia teams that have previously participated in various Myrtle Beach tourneys this year. Huntington, Morgantown, University and Trinity have already been to the beach and back this season.
The weather, at least early next week, appears favorable for teams making the trip south in search of playable fields. Long-range forecasts in the Myrtle area call for sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s on Monday and Tuesday, with clouds creeping in by midweek, bringing a chance of rain.
That's still a marked improvement upon many teams' facilities that have either been under water or under snow the last couple weeks all around West Virginia.
"It's been a brutal, brutal couple of weeks of weather,'' said Capital coach Robert Massey.