MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The winning pitcher in the Class AAA state championship game is headed to Marshall University. St. Albans rising senior Ayden Hodges has given a verbal commitment to play for the Herd. Hodges received a scholarship offer two weeks ago.

“I have worked really hard these last few years,” Hodges said. “I have been getting my command down and getting my velocity up.”

Marshall will be opening a brand new 3,500-seat stadium in 2021 and Hodges says that was a key reason he is joining the Herd. “It is real important for recruiting. That really brought them up to the top of my list.”

Hodges and West Virginia University signee Jake Carr formed a formidable 1-2 combo atop the Red Dragon pitching rotation this spring. Carr has been a valuable mentor for Hodges, imparting one significant lesson.

“Don’t be afraid of batters. Never pitch around a batter. Just go straight at him. He has always been like that — just going straight at people. That really helped me in my sophomore and junior years.”

Hodges went 9-1 on the hill with an earned run average of 0.70 in his junior season. He struck out 80 batters in 52 2/3 innings of work. The southpaw allowed just one hit and struck out seven batters in 6 2/3 innings in St. Albans’ 5-0 win over Hurricane in the Class AAA championship game.

Hodges is playing his summer baseball for Team Ohio Pro Select, which is based in northeastern Ohio.

“I am pretty satisfied with my four pitches right now. It would be sweet to add a couple pitches. But right now, I am just focusing on my four pitches.”

Hodges hopes to lead the Red Dragons to a third state championship in four seasons next spring.

“If we work hard, I definitely think it is possible.”