BECKLEY, W.Va. — It was a young Woodrow Wilson baseball team last year that won Class AAA Region 3 and returned to the state tournament.
“We knew we had the pieces, we just had to put them together,” said coach Mark Daniel. “We had some young guys in there last year, freshmen and sophomores, and it just took a little while for them to get ready for the speed of high school.”
Beckley’s 2013 season ended in the semifinals with a 5-0 loss to state runner-up Cabell Midland. Back from that team are two quality pitchers, sophomore Brandon Chandler and senior Josh Rakes.
“Both of them pitched over 43 innings for us last year and they’re doing well for us this year,” Daniel said. “We expected that out of them.”
Other core players that returned to their starting roles this year included junior first baseman Hunter Halstead, senior shortstop Chris Metrick, junior third baseman Brent Osborne and senior outfielders Jacoby Webb and Logan Wriston.
“We’ve been building on it for a couple of years because they’ve been playing since they were freshmen and sophomores,” Daniel said. “Most of them are juniors or seniors now and they’re coming through. They’re doing well – they’ve been battle tested.”
And it’s all of that experience that helps make the Flying Eagles one of the legitimate contenders out of Class AAA again this year.
“That’s our goal (to win the championship) and that should be every team’s goal in the state, to win a state title,” Daniel said. “We fully expect that, but we know that there will be five or six teams that will be tough, either in our region or when you get to the states. We know it will be tough, but we fully expect to be there.”
Beckley (11-3) took down regional rival George Washington 12-10 on Wednesday. The two teams combined for 27 hits and nine extra-base hits in a potential regional preview.
“Overall we’ve been steady just about everywhere,” Daniel said. “Our pitching has been exactly what we thought it would be. Our bats are strong one through seven in the lineup now—but we will be strong one through nine before we get to the sectional games. Right now we’re pretty set and if you have good pitching and good defense, you’ll be in every game.”
The Flying Eagles are matched up in sectional play with Shady Spring and Oak Hill—Greenbrier East or Princeton both loom as a potential regional semifinal opponents. Daniel hopes the run his club made a season ago can benefit players come May.
“It showed us what to expect,” he said. “Power Park is a big ballpark, and the one we play in is a good size. We’re 340 down the lines and 380 to center. But you get to Power Park and the gaps are a little bit bigger and fly balls will kill you there. It gave us experience to know we need line drives and ground balls to advance any further—that’s what we work on everyday. The experience was good to just play in that environment and it will pay off for us.”
2014 Baseball Schedule
|8||4/01/14 7 PM||A||ST. ALBANS||1||–||7||L|
|9||4/02/14 4 PM||H||PRINCETON||6||–||3||W|
|10||4/08/14 4:30PM||H||GREENBRIER EAST||7||–||6||W|
|12||4/11/14 5:30PM||H||SOUTH CHARLESTON||7||–||8||L|
|14||4/16/14 4 PM||A||FAITH BAPTIST, FL (ROCK HILL)||2||–||13||L|
|15||4/17/14 4 PM||A||POCA (ROCK HILL)||9||–||1||W|
|16||4/21/14 5 PM||H||LIBERTY (RALEIGH)||18||–||3||W|
|17||4/23/14 6 PM||H||GEORGE WASHINGTON||12||–||10||W|
|18||4/25/14 5 PM||A||OAK HILL||–|
|19||4/25/14 5 PM||H||CAPITAL||–|
|20||4/26/14 11 AM||A||RIPLEY||–|
|22||4/29/14 6 PM||H||CAPITAL||–|
|23||4/30/14 6:30 PM||H||SHADY SPRING||–|
|24||5/01/14 5 PM||A||LIBERTY (RALEIGH)||–|
|25||5/02/14 5:30PM||H||SPRING VALLEY||–|
|26||5/05/14 5 PM||A||MSAC PLAYOFF||–|
|27||5/08/14 4:30PM||A||GREENBRIER EAST||–|
|28||5/09/14 6:30PM||A||SHADY SPRING||–|
|29||5/10/14 5 PM||H||OAK HILL||–|
|wins: 11 lost: 3 ties: 0|