Chapmanville baseball coach Eric Ellis says his team has been building toward 2011.
"A lot of our kids are three year starters," Ellis said. "We made the decision to play 9th and 10th graders a few years ago. Now we have five senior starters and five junior starters."
Chapmanville is 28-3 and the No. 1 ranked AA team in the state. The Tigers are already Region 4, Section 3 champs after sweeping Scott this week. The Tigers will play a couple of regular season games next week as the playoffs are put on hold for the WESTTEST. Regional play will resume for Chapmanville on May 24.
"Our leader this year has been (senior catcher) Jordan Kirk," Ellis said. "He is hitting right around .500 with eight home runs. He has had a very good year defensively as well as teams don’t try to run on him very often anymore.
"He has already been contacted by Kentucky and South Carolina," Ellis said of Kirk. "Some of the pro scouts have shown some interest as well."
Senior outfielder Josh Easterling (8 home runs) is another big offensive contributor. Senior Craig Johnson and junior Jordan Banks are the top pitchers.
Chapmanville’s last trip to state came back in 2001. The Tigers have come close in 2002, 2009 and 2010 losing in the regional.
Eric Ellis is the son of Hall of Fame coach Ted Ellis who coached at Chapmanville for 31 years. The Tigers won state championships in 1987 and 1997 with Ted Ellis at the helm. Eric Ellis was a player for his father on the ’87 title winner. He was an assistant coach with the ’97 team. After ten years away from the game, Ted Ellis has returned to the Chapmanville bench as an assistant coach for his son.
"You’ve got a guy with that kind of Hall of Fame success," Eric Ellis said. "With that kind of credibility the guys just soak up anything he tells them. He’s been a big influence on our team this season.
Ted Ellis won over 600 games as Chapmanville head coach. He’s been elected to the Hall of Fame by Chapmanville High, University of Charleston and West Virginia Baseball Coaches Association.
"It was a little strange at first," Ellis said of his father’s return to the bench. "I played for him and was an assistant coach for him for ten seasons. It was very different for me telling him what to do this year. But he has really enjoyed this season. And it has really been great having him around."
And what would it mean for Chapmanville to get back to state and capture the third baseball championship for the school?
"We have a long standing baseball tradition here," Eric Ellis said. "We tell the kids every year that you have to carry that with you.
"We’ve been building toward this year. We feel like we can go on a run this year and keep it going for a few years. Our goal every year is to win a state championship but you have to be good every day because the section and the region are so good.
"Just look at this week," Ellis continued. "We had to come from behind to beat Scott in the first sectional game because they were ready to play and ready to beat us. Maybe we overlooked them a bit but it was a lesson to the kids that we have to show up every day.
"It would certainly mean a lot," Ellis said of the possibility of winning another championship at Chapmanville. "I would like see us finish the deal this year simply for the kids. They have worked hard the last few years toward this and they certainly deserve it."