Returning their entire starting line-up from last year along with the addition of some promising freshmen to their ranks, the Paden City Wildcats look to make more than a little noise in the 2014 season.
The Wildcats lost no seniors from the team to graduation and return nine letter winners with game experience.
Returning to the diamond for the team will be senior outfielder, Tyler Stackpole; juniors Levi Meadows, Zach Heasley and Craig Allen; and sophomores, Luke Cooper, Isaac Hall, Deven Price, Michael Wilcox and Andrew Dennis.
Newcomers to the team include: senior Kyle Postlethwait; juniors Kennedy Cain and Matthew Greathouse; and freshmen Aaron Heasley, Hayden Hizer, Jacob Pierce, Blaine Mitchell, Evan Shreve and Logan Crawford.
With a large number of players to situate on the diamond for a change, veteran head coach of the Wildcats, Brent Croasmun, and assistant coach Jeff Hohn, will find strategical moves a major part of their game plan this season.
"We have nine pitchers on our roster," coach Croasmun said. "This is the most I have ever had. We'll try to establish three starters, middle relief, and hopefully find a closer."
Starting pictures from last year include Hall, Cooper, Heasley, Meadows and Allen. Toss the caps of Dennis, Postlethwait, Hizer and the younger Heasley into the mix and the 'Cats look to be set for the year.
"These guys will be the biggest keys to our success," the coach said. "We need to develop more consistency by throwing more strikes."
Wilcox, who had the starting catchers spot last year, will also get the nod for the position this year, probably backed up by Meadows. Zach Heasley will share time at first with Cooper, depending on if one or the other is on the mound and Stackpole looks to be in competition for the bag as well. Meadows is the likely starter at second with Price, Hizer, Hall and Aaron Heasley all competing for the same slot. Hizer, Price and Hall will also vie for starting time at the number six position. Either Cooper or Hall will man third, depending on the pitching situation at the time.
Competition for outfield positions is fierce right now with Price and Allen looking to retain their starting positions from last year and Dennis, Postlethwait, Aaron Heasley, Cain, Stackpole, Pierce, Greathouse, Mitchell, Shreve and Crawford all competing for an opening.
Fans can look for Price and Hall to serve as overall utility players with both proving proficient at several positions.
"We have a lot of combinations we can go with," Croasmun said. "We'll see who can catch and throw the best and go from there. It may come down to who has the hot bat."
In that vein, the coach expects hitting to be better this year than it was last year. Cooper led the stats at the plate in the 2013 season with an average of .395, followed by Meadows with .356; Zach Heasley with .308; and Allen with a very respectable .279. Also a plus for Paden City will be the base running skills by Meadows and Allen who stole 22 and 21 bases respectively.
Tweaking their schedule a bit in order to be a bit more competitive come post-season, the Wildcats are ready to take on all comers. "We have upgraded our schedule this year to help prepare us for tournament time," coach Croasmun said. "Some of the best class A teams in the state are in our area between Weirton and Parkersburg. Our Sectional tournament will be a great challenge as we face Magnolia and Cameron."
The Wildcats got the season underway on Monday at home as they played host to Valley.
|Wildcat baseball 2014|
|March 25||@ B.Donahue||5:30 p.m.|
|March 26||vs. Clay-Battelle||5:30 p.m.|
|March 27||vs. Cameron||5:30 p.m.|
|March 28||vs. Magnolia||5 p.m.|
|March 29||vs. P. Catholic||Noon (DH)|
|March 31||vs. B.Donahue||5:30 p.m.|
|April 1||vs. Beallsville||5:30 p.m.|
|April 3||@ St. John||5:30 p.m.|
|April 7||vs. St. John||5:30 p.m.|
|April 9||@ Beallsville||5:30 p.m.|
|April 10||vs. Hundred||5:30 p.m. (DH)|
|April 12||@ Frontier||5:30 p.m. (DH)|
|April 14||@ Cameron||5:30 p.m.|
|April 16||vs. W. Central||5 p.m.|
|April 19||@ Bridgeport||Noon (DH)|
|April 21||@ Valley||5:30 p.m.|
|April 23||@ W. Central||6 p.m.|
|April 24||@ Clay-Battelle||3:30 p.m.|
|April 26||@ OVAC Semi||TBA|
|April 26||vs. E.Richland||Noon (DH)|
|April 28||vs. Tyler||5 p.m.|
|April 30||@ St. Marys||5 p.m.|
|May 3||@ OVAC Final||1:30 p.m.|
|May 5||vs. St. Marys||5 p.m.|
|May 7||@ Magnolia||5 p.m.|
|* Home games in bold|