CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — Chapmanville started the baseball season with 10 straight wins, outscoring its first five opponents 91-2.
The Tigers (18-3), who were anticipated to be one of the Class AA favorites, have left no doubt they will be in the championship mix again after returning a plethora of talent from last year’s state tournament team.
“Our expectations were high,” said Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis. “We returned our top four pitchers from last year, our two catchers, shortstop and third baseman. We had a really solid nucleus coming back.”
One of the core pieces back was senior pitcher Trey Dalton who finished with 77 strikeouts in 63 innings thrown last year.
“What makes him so tough on the mound is his mental toughness,” Ellis said. “He’s a bulldog out there and he will not back down from anyone. He’ll come at you with everything he has. Being a left-handed pitcher, his fastball runs away from right handed hitters a lot and he has a real nice breaking ball as well.”
Dalton entered the week with an unbeaten record on the mound this season and an ERA around 1.00. Behind Dalton in the rotation is senior shortstop Tristan Thompson.
“Thompson has a really live arm with a heavy fastball in the mid to upper 80s,” Ellis said. “When either of those two are on the mound, we’ve been pretty tough to beat.”
Offensively, the Tigers have been led by sophomore catcher/pitcher Chris Bailey and senior Josh Browning.
Browning, who’s hitting .432 with two home runs and 19 RBIs, moved to the Chapmanville area after attending Liberty Raleigh the past two seasons.
“Those two guys have been big run producers for us this year,” Ellis said. “Coming into the season, we knew our pitching was going to be really good, along with our defense. Our concern was going to be our hitting – but everyone has stepped up and they’ve really exceeded our expectations offensively. We don’t hit a lot home runs, but we put a lot of pressure on people by being active on the bases and creating opportunities.”
The Tigers this year are looking for their first state championship since 2011. Chapmanville last year advanced to Charleston for the state tournament, falling to eventual champion Bridgeport 3-1 in a pitcher’s duel.
“Anytime you get to Charleston, it’s a fun atmosphere to play in,” Ellis said. “It was a really good ballgame last year, Bridgeport had a great team. The game was pretty tight all the way through, they just made a couple of really nice plays that were the difference. When you lose to good teams and they make a couple of outstanding plays, it makes it a little bit easier to take.”
Chapmanville entered this week with just two losses on the year – one of those coming to another state tournament participant last year, Independence, 5-2.
“That game came in the wooden bat tournament from Scott,” Ellis said. “Independence has a good team – they’re young this year and really scrappy. It was the second game of a double-header for us that day and they got some timely hits. They’ll have a shot to be back in Charleston again this year as well.”
If Ellis’ club, though, is going to get back to the state tournament, the Tigers will again have to emerge out of Region 4 in Class AA. Chapmanville has already faced and defeated potential regional opponents Poca, Mingo Central, Sissonville, Herbert Hoover, Wayne, Scott (sectional) and Tolsia.
The Tigers fell on Monday night to Sissonville 11-2.
“There are teams in there who are capable of beating us if we don’t bring our ‘A’ game,” Ellis said. “We feel like if we play well that we are hard to beat, especially if we have Trey (Dalton) or Tristan (Thompson) on the mound. We just have to go out and play good baseball and do what we’ve done all season.
“If we do that, we feel like we’ll have a shot to get back to Charleston,” he continued. “Scott, Wayne, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover and all of those guys are are all good teams. We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”
2015 Baseball Schedule
|8||04/02/15||04:30PM||A||MAGNOLIA (@ SISSONVILLE)||12||–||0||W|
|12||Cancelled||07:00PM||A||BELFRY, KY H.S.||–|
|13||Cancelled||04:30PM||A||BELFRY, KY H.S.||–|
|14||04/10/15||07:00PM||H||WAYNE (DAFFER TOURN)||3||–||2||W|
|15||04/11/15||02:30PM||H||RIVERSIDE (DAFFER TOURN)||9||–||7||W|
|16||04/17/15||05:30PM||A||OAK HILL (@ SCOTT)||1||–||0||W|
|17||04/18/15||01:00PM||A||ROANE CO. (@SCOTT)||6||–||5||W|
|25||04/29/15||07:00PM||H||MAN HIGH SCHOOL||–|
|30||05/06/15||05:30PM||A||VAN SENIOR/MIDDLE SCHOOL||–|
|wins: 18 lost: 3 ties: 0|