MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As always, Class AAA Region 4 will be fun to watch as Hurricane, Cabell Midland, Nitro and Logan all are currently ranked among the top eight in Class AAA.
Hurricane entered this week ranked No. 1 after the Redskins claimed a 9-4 weekend victory over last year’s state runner-up Cabell Midland. Hurricane fell to Cabell Midland 1-0 last year in the regional semifinals.
Hurricane also owns a 4-3 win over No. 6 George Washington as the Redskins entered Tuesday with a 5-1 overall record—that lone loss coming to South Charleston, 9-7.
Logan owns a solid win over Cabell Midland as well, beating the Knights 4-0 last week. Sophomore right-hander Chase Burnette pitched scoreless five innings, giving up just two hits in the win. Logan entered the week with a 4-2 record, falling to Lawrence, Ky., and Huntington.
Nitro (7-0) entered the week No. 5 in Class AAA. The Wildcats have given up a combined eight runs in those seven games.
As is the case most years, whichever team comes out of this region will clearly be battle-tested come state tournament time.
CLASS AAA EASTERN PANHANDLE INTRIGUING
Last year, it was Hedgesville advancing to the state tournament out of Class AAA Region 2 as the Eagles made it to Charleston for the first time since the 1970s. Hedgesville won its first baseball title a year ago, but will have another difficult path to get back.
Hampshire, which fell to Hedgesville 4-3 in the regional final last year, already owns a 6-2 win over the Eagles. Hampshire, though, has lost 5-1 to Musselman and 7-5 to Petersburg .
Jefferson, which last won the state title in 2011, started off the year with a 7-6 loss to Hedgesville and then went on to win six straight entering this week. Jefferson averaged over 11 runs per game in those six wins.
Three of the last five Class AAA state champions have come from the eastern panhandle (Hedgesville in 2013, Jefferson in 2011 and Martinsburg in 2009).
CAN HERBERT HOOVER REPEAT IN CLASS AA?
In Class AA, it’s defending champion Herbert Hoover at the top of the rankings as the Huskies returned five starters from last year’s championship team, but lost Marshall signee Corey Bird. At the core of this year’s group are seniors Tristan Fields and Cody Bowen. The Huskies entered Tuesday with an 8-1 record, falling only to Class AAA Ripley 7-3.
Independence, Fairmont Senior, Chapmanville and Bridgeport all entered the week in the top five in Class AA as well.
Chapmanville won the state championship in 2011 – and the Tigers, at least early, look poised for another potential run. In its undefeated 7-0 start, Chapmanville has outscored its opponents 70-10. A big matchup against Herbert Hoover looms next week.
CLASS A FAVORITES?
Notre Dame (3-1) has received some buzz in Class A. The Irish entered Tuesday having lost to Gilmer County 3-1 last week and then beating Parkersburg Catholic 12-7 on Monday.
Notre Dame returned the bulk of a team that went 23-11 in 2013, falling to Magnolia in the state semifinals 4-3. Infielder Chris Petrucci is one of several talented seniors leading the way for the Irish.
Class A should have plenty of balance overall as Valley (F), Parkersburg Catholic, Madonna and St. Marys round out the top five heading into this week. Valley made it to the state tournament a year ago before falling to eventual champion Charleston Catholic. Parkersburg Catholic entered the week at 6-1, while Madonna came in at 7-0 following an impressive 6-2 win over tradition-rich Magnolia.
Defending champion Charleston Catholic, meanwhile, had to replace six starters, but owns a nice 5-4 sectional win over Buffalo and a 12-8 victory over regional challenger Wahama. Both the Bison and White Falcons could prove to be difficult outs for the Irish come postseason time.