RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. — After a Class A runner-up finish in boys basketball, the Ravenswood baseball team has risen to No. 2 in the MetroNews baseball rankings this week and entered Friday with a 7-0 record.
The Red Devils outscored their first five opponents 66-0 and, last week, added to their impressive early season resume with a 7-3 win over then-Class AAA No. 3 Ripley.
It was the first win for Ravenswood over rival Ripley since 2003.
“I don’t have anything but respect for those guys – they’re good friends of mine,” said Ravenswood coach Wes Swain. “But it’s been a long haul (since beating Ripley). Going into that game, as a coach, playing that type of the program, you want to keep the game close and don’t let it get out of hand.
“But I told the kids going into the game, that if we could stay within a couple of runs late in the game and we keep putting the bat on the ball, we would win,” he said. “Sixth inning, (we) took off with it. We had a couple of nice hits and a couple of errors on (Ripley’s) part – next thing you know, we’re in that thing.”
It’s a Ravenswood program looking for its first state tournament appearance since winning the Class AA title back in 1999.
The Red Devils have been rebuilding overall under Swain, who is in his fifth year at the helm. He inherited a program that went 3-22 the previous season and had just nine players.
“This all started with the first year and trying to develop the program,” Swain said. “We tried to develop a program that helped make the kids a little more physically and mentally tougher. That all started in the weight room. And this group of kids has been together for a really long time – we have seven or eight juniors.
“Five years ago, we just had nine guys on the field that could play,” he continued. “Now we have kids competing for positions and the older kids have been really good with the younger kids, making them better and showing them the way.”
The Red Devils finished 20-11 last year with a regional semifinal appearance and lost four seniors from that team.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that we wouldn’t have given up a run in our first five games, we would knock off Ripley and only give up 12 hits in six games, I would’ve called you a liar,” Swain said. “But the kids are having fun.
“I don’t think we’re hitting as well as we should be,” he continued. “So if that comes around and the pitching continues, the ultimate goal is to have six pitchers going into the postseason.”
Leading that pitching staff early on has been Nathan Curtis who entered the week with a 2-0 record and 20 strikeouts in 12 innings. Swain’s son, Chase Swain, is 3-0 on the year with 20 strikeouts in 8.2 innings, while Lakin Tucker and Nic Taylor have both collected wins early in the season as well.
At the plate, Curtis has led the way, entering the week batting .533 with seven RBIs and 11 runs scored. Tucker, Swain and Blake Bennett all began the week at .400 or better from the plate, while Brennan Barr and Taylor have been above .350.
“We’ve seen this coming for a while and I was just hoping the kids would live up to their expectations,” Swain said. “They’re a good group, down to earth and not a whole lot of trouble out of them. They practice hard and do everything you ask them to do.”
The Red Devils are aligned in sectional play with No. 5 Wahama, No. 10 Williamstown, Calhoun County, Parkersburg Catholic and Wirt County. The opposing section features Buffalo, Hannan, Sherman, St. Joseph Central, Tolsia, Tug Valley and Van.
“We’ve told the kids that it doesn’t get any easier (in Class A) being in a section with Wahama and Williamstown,” Swain said. “Wahama has won the state championship two years in a row and Williamstown always plays better down the stretch. The other side has Buffalo, and St. Joe has had a pretty good year so far.
“I want to think that if we can get out of our section, we would have a pretty good shot with our pitching,” he continued. “Pitching has changed a lot this year with the pitch count. We’re fortunate that we have 19 kids on the roster and I’m working with 12 of them pitching. Pitching is key right now – if you have two or three dominant pitchers, you can really walk the dog.”
2017 Baseball Schedule
|1||Cancelled||5:00PM||H –||ST. MARY’S||–|
|3||03/23/17||4:30PM||H –||WIRT COUNTY||34||–||0||W|
|5||03/25/17||2:00PM||A –||GREATER BECKLEY||2||–||0||W|
|11||04/06/17||5:00PM||H –||ST. MARY’S||–|
|14||04/11/17||6:00PM||H –||PARKERSBURG SOUTH||–|
|17||04/15/17||1:00 PM||H –||BELPRE||–|
|19||04/17/17||5:00PM||H –||PARKERSBURG CATHOLIC||–|
|20||04/18/17||4:30PM||A –||ST. MARY’S||–|
|24||04/22/17||5:00PM||H –||GREATER BECKLEY||–|
|25||04/22/17||12:00PM||H –||LAWRENCE KY||–|
|27||04/25/17||7:00PM||H –||CALHOUN COUNTY||–|
|29||04/27/17||6:00PM||A –||PARKERSBURG SOUTH||–|
|30||04/28/17||5:00PM||A –||PARKERSBURG CATHOLIC||–|
|33||05/02/17||6:00PM||A –||POINT PLEASANT||–|
|wins: 7 lost: 0 ties: 0|