SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — Jefferson has jumped out to a 15-3 record entering Friday, making the Cougars a contender in Class AAA Region 2.
Two of Jefferson’s losses came against teams from South Carolina in the Mingo Bay Classic, and the other came early in the season to defending state champion Hedgesville.
The eastern panhandle is deep with Hedgesville and Hampshire entering the week ranked in the top 10. Washington and Musselman have been competitive as well.
“I can say we’re very competitive, but I don’t know about (being the) favorites because of the amount of talent over our way,” Jefferson coach John Lowery said.
Lowery’s club has just two seniors. Junior second baseman Andrew King is hitting .586 and sophomore shortstop Paul Witt carries a .433 average, while giving the Cougars solid defense.
Jefferson has a rematch with Hedgesville set for next week, along with other intriguing matchups looming down the road with Bridgeport, Huntington and Hampshire.
“Our level of play is going to pick up when we play these upcoming games against some tough teams,” Lowery said.
Washington relying on pitching
Washington (10-4) split two games this week, beating Musselman 10-0 after losing to Jefferson 2-0.
“There’s good baseball in the eastern panhandle,” Washington coach Mark Hash said. “On any given day, I think any one of the four can beat each other. It’s going to come down to who has the pitching. We feel really good about our pitching staff and right now our pitching staff has an ERA under 1.00 as a team.”
The ace for Washington on the mound is four-year starter and recent VMI signee Jared Silva. The senior has accumulated a 0.78 ERA, while posting a .459 batting average as well.
“He knows what we expect out of him. He’s mentally gotten better. He has got all the tools to do what it takes to play at the Division I level,” Hash said. “A lot of the time, high school kids don’t think about the count, (though) you preach that to them and you try to get them to understand. He’s really gotten to where he’s understanding that and he’s looking for certain pitches and he’s ready for them.”
The upcoming schedule includes an important game against Hedgesville on April 29.
Musselman down, but not out
Musselman entered Friday with a 13-8 overall record, battling through narrow a recent narrow loss to Hedgesville (4-3) and nice win over Logan (2-1 in the Mingo Bay Classic). It’s been an up and down season out of the region for the Applemen as they picked up a nice win over Hampshire back in March, but have had several other close losses to their eastern panhandle foes and a couple of lopsided ones as well.
“It’s a real tough area to get through at this point. It’s kind of a grind right now,” said head coach Jeff Sibole.
Musselman has been led offensively on the year by second baseman Jarin Jenkins, who has penciled in a .397 batting average, and outfielder Tyler Gross, with a .364 batting average.
“They’re the ones we count on to get the clutch hit when we need them,” Sibole said. “They’re hitting really well. Those guys need to lead up and help us score runs.”
Another notable player for the Applemen is senior pitcher Chris Schleuss, who has compiled 1.14 ERA in 30 innings pitched this season.
The Appleman have seven games in six days next week with one of them those against Jefferson on April 29th. The last time the two teams met, the Cougars walloped the Applemen 18-2.
“It just got away from us and kind of avalanched a little bit,” he said. “They’re not as good as 18 runs and we’re not as bad as 2 runs.”
Keeping track of the defending AAA champs
Nobody is ruling out the Class AAA defending champions, as Hedgesville (12-6) took a 13-4 win over Martinsburg on Thursday. Coach Dirk Webb has leaned pretty extensively on the first four hitters in his lineup, however, still would like to see more from the bottom of his lineup.
“We have to find a consistent 5-9,” he said. “That’s going to not only roll the lineup over, but give us a chance to score some runs throughout the lineup.”
Senior catcher Tyler Anders has been one of the Eagles’ leading hitters, posing a .432 batting average. Webb simply needs to see more from the rest of his club offensively before the postseason arrives.
“For us right now, our lack of offense has really put a lot more pressure on our defensive and pitching staff, ” he said.
Hedgesville has matchups against both Washington and Jefferson next week.
Woodrow Wilson comes out on top
Woodrow Wilson won a 12-10 slugfest over George Washington on Wednesday night.
Senior Jacoby Webb had two hits and three RBIs, while teammate Chris Metrick tallied three more hits for Beckley (11-3).
George Washington (10-7) got two homers and five RBIs from junior Clayton Anderson.
No. 1 Nitro goes down twice
Class AAA No. 1 Nitro (15-5) endured a tough week, falling to Winfield 5-4 and to No. 10 Huntington 5-2, getting handcuffed by left-hander Stephen Holland, who struck out 12.