"Arik's numbers are kind of deceiving,'' Craffey said, "because earlier in the season we pitched him against George Washington and Greenbrier East. We pitched him against those triple-A schools for the simple fact he's a senior and we were going from an experience standpoint. We needed to get him in there and throw against some of those bigger schools.
"For the most part, Arik has pitched well all year. I cannot think of one bad-pitched game for our pitchers. Sure, we lost seven games, but our pitchers have been solid every game.''
McGinnis will be facing an Irish lineup that features six players hitting over .360.
They're led by Rocco Wilcox (.433, 61 runs), Hoyer (.410), Nelson McKown (.397, 53 RBIs), Connor Golden (.381, 38 RBIs, 22 stolen bases), Hovorka (.368, 20 steals) and Sam McKown (.365).
The Hounds can do Catholic two better - they have eight starters at .400 or higher.
Cody Winter leads with a .477 average, followed by McGinnis (.474, 45 RBIs), Mark Hess (.447), Raeshawn Breckenridge (.424, 41 RBIs, 22 steals), Drew Jones (.422, 41 steals), John Riddle (.411), Todd Coleman (.409) and Bowen (.400, 34 RBIs).
The teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, with Valley taking an 11-8 decision at home on April 18 and the Irish winning 9-1 on May 3 at their field.
Mehle, whose program appears in the state tournament for the eighth time in 12 years, believes his experienced squad - sporting nine seniors, six of whom start - is ready.
"I think we are,'' he said. "In March, we realized we had to work on the little things, and we got better in practice every day so that we can compete in May. I think we're playing our best baseball now.
"Anything can happen in the game of baseball when you go against excellent competition. But I told our players I'd rather be in our dugout than anybody else's in single-A.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.