Croasmun’s Wildcats Return Eight Lettermen
Paden City is excited about this year’s high school baseball team.
The Cats won the regular season OVAC crown last year and was the tournament runnerup. They also were the Mason Dixon champions and Region 1 Section 2 champions. Coach Brent Croasmun hopes to build on those accomplishments and turn this year into another banner season. Some good players graduated who contributed to last year’s success, those players included Zach Heasley, Levi Meadows, Kennedy Cain and Craig Allen. However, a very good nucleus is returning who were major contributors in last year’s run.
Luke Cooper, a three-year starter and West Liberty recruit, will return at pitcher and 1B. Cooper is a solid player in all aspects of the game. He had a .473 batting average and hit at a .592 clip with runners on. He will be counted on as a team leader, along with Michael Wilcox, a three-year starter at catcher. Wilcox hit .300 and .402 with men on base. Croasmun said he is a solid hitter who can be counted on to make contact.
Andrew Dennis, another three-year letterman, filled in last year as pitcher and played some in right field. He was also used as a designated hitter. This year he will pitch and play left field.
Junior three-sport star Hayden Hizer, a two-year starter at pitcher and shortstop, will anchor the defense and can be counted on at the plate. He is getting attention from several colleges. Junior Aaron Heasley has come into his own and will be expected to pitch and hit this year.
Last season he played some excellent defense and has become a much better athlete who has a desire to play.
Kolton Elliot was mainly a designated hitter last year, and was impressive at the plate. This season he will play 1B and 3B. According to Croasmun, there will be a couple spots to fill in the outfield and Marcus Allen and Jake Pierce will probably be the starters in right field and center field. Both players were used as pinch runners last year.
Also competing for outfield positions will be Matt Saxson, E.J. Weber, Daulton Schultheis, and Jordan Stackpole. Ryan Cross will back up at catcher and could also play in the outfield. Freshman Trey Slider will compete for time at 1B, outfield and pitcher.
“We have a great group of kids who love to play baseball, we may not be as good offensively this year as a team, but we will focus on making our defense better as well as our pitching,”said Coach Croasmun.” We may have to play some small ball at times to score runs, we have solid pitching in Cooper and Hizer, they are a great one two punch on the mound.”Croasmun said they will face some very good opponents this year and they will have the same teams in the sectional, Cameron and Magnolia. ” Both those teams will be solid and we know we will have to play are best to beat them,” said Croasmun.
Everyone knows it will be hard to repeat the excitement of Luke Cooper’s walk-off home run against Magnolia last year to win the section – but that’s the goal.