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Prep baseball notebook: Wins keep coming for Riverside

By Rick Ryan, Assistant Sports Editor

There has been a definite changing of the guard at Riverside — in the coach’s box and on the scoreboard.

The Warriors took a 12-6 record into Friday’s scheduled game against Nicholas County, which — if they maintain it — would be just the sixth winning season in the program’s 15-year history.

The most wins ever for Riverside in baseball came in a 20-16 season in 2012, that under former coach Chris Hawkins. The Warriors’ best percentage (18-10, .643) came in 2004 under the guidance of Al Estepp.

That the Warriors have found success this season is somewhat remarkable considering they’re on their third coach in less than a year’s time.

Hawkins, who took Riverside to the Class AAA Region 3 title game each of the two previous years, left following his third season at the helm. He was initially replaced by Trey Barcus, who coached the team for just three games, first being suspended and then resigning.

Former assistant Patrick Vogelsang took over coaching duties from there, and the wins kept coming.

“We’ve got a great group of seniors,’’ Vogelsang said. “They’re very mature, and this is their team. They’re the heart and soul of this thing, and they’re awesome. It’s not me. They play hard.

“The thing we’ve been trying to stress is building a new culture. It hasn’t been the greatest, but we’re all about from now on, now on. Our motto this year has been, ‘Win this pitch.’ That’s something we’re really trying to live by — focusing on this pitch.’’

Senior pitcher-shortstop Cameron Norris has been the Warriors ace, going 4-0 with a 0.71 ERA and 59 strikeouts in just 29 2/3 innings. Top hitters are Cameron Green (.485 to start the week), Trevor Smith (.438) and Derik Chestnut (.421).

Despite the solid record, Riverside has had some hiccups against the better AAA teams on its schedule.

In four of their six losses, the Warriors have been 10-runned by three ranked teams — Huntington (12-2), Hurricane (11-1), George Washington (10-0) — as well as Winfield (11-1).

The Warriors’ AAA wins have come against Spring Valley, Shady Spring, Lewis County, Ripley and South Charleston. They are 7-0 against AA or A schools.

“We’re working on it,’’ Vogelsang said, “and I think we’ll fix it. This is a team with good leadership, and this is their team — it’s very clear. It’s been a tough situation, but they’ve handled it incredibly.’’

Hampshire still hanging

Hampshire sort of sneaked up on other Class AAA contenders around West Virginia last year, going 25-4 and finishing the season as the No. 3 team in the Gazette’s state ratings.

The Trojans advanced all the way to the Region 2 finals, where they lost 4-3 to eventual state champion Hedgesville.

Well, Hampshire hasn’t lost much ground even though it lost a lot of talent from last year’s squad, including its top two pitchers. The Trojans will also be without perhaps their top hitter, junior David Delawder, who tore an ankle ligament and could be out the rest of the season.

Still, Hampshire began the week 10-4 and tied for sixth in the AAA state poll with wins over Hedgesville and Morgantown. Following a pair of 1-0 losses at Myrtle Beach, N.C., this week, the Trojans’ record dropped to 10-7.

Pitchers Shane Ennis and Bucky Timbrook, both four-year starters, are the backbone of this year’s squad.

“I would say our biggest strength is pitching,’’ said Trojans coach Chad VanMeter. “Ennis throws around 90 and has been unhittable and Timbrook throws the ball pretty well.

“We are pretty fast on the bases, but we don’t hit the ball very good.’’

Certainly, the loss of Delawder will hurt. The younger brother of former Paw Paw basketball standout Josh Delawder — the state’s all-time leading scorer with 2,965 points — David Delawder fired a two-hitter against Hedgesville early in the season.

“David is a great kid,’’ VanMeter said, “who works very hard and loves baseball.’’

Pendleton pounding it

Finally breaking into the Class A state rankings this week was Pendleton County out of the Eastern Panhandle.

The Wildcats (15-5) have been on a run lately, winning their last eight games heading into Friday’s big weekend against Class AAA powers Jefferson (Friday) and Martinsburg (doubleheader Saturday).

Pendleton has been knocking the cover off the ball all season, racking up 12-plus runs in 12 of its 15 wins and scoring nine runs two other times.

The Wildcats have beaten Petersburg, Moorefield and East Hardy and lost 1-0 to perennial AA contender Fairmont Senior, which scratched out a run in the top of the seventh inning to win.

Coach Sam Yokum has relied on a nice blend of four seniors, four sophomores, two freshmen and one junior.

“We’ve got a mix of veterans and some young kids,’’ Yokum said. “It looks pretty promising for now and for later on.’’

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


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