Paden City returns seven to diamond
Experience, and/or lack of it will tell the final tale of the 2011 season for the Paden City Wildcats varsity baseball team.
Fourteen players will wear the Green and White this season under the direction of veteran head coach Brent Croasmun and assistant coach Jeff Hohn.
The team will make their stand on the diamonds of the Ohio Valley, minus three stalwart starters from last season, lost to graduation: Malakai Anderson, Josh Bennett and Mitchell Stewart, who each added depth both on the pitchers mound as well as at the plate.
“Our pitchers have very little experience on the mound this season with all of our wins last year coming from Anderson, Bennett and Stewart,” Croasmun said. “Malakai was also our leading hitter, batting over .400.”
This year’s ‘Cats will boast 14 players, seven returning with starting experience: senior Zach Yost (center field/short stop/pitcher); juniors Jared Stewart (catcher); Trey Leonard (first/second/pitcher), Taylor Still (infield/center field), Ben Anderson (right field/DH), and Jay Billiter (first/short stop/pitcher); and one sophomore, Matt Barker (short stop/2nd base/pitch).
Juniors looking to move into starting positions are James Baker (outfield/pitch), Kyle McFadden (outfield/1st base), and Kyle Staton (3rd base/catcher).
Three more sophomores will take to the field in Paden City, including: Aaron Higgins (outfield), Omer Araydin (outfield), and Tim Loy (1st base/outfield). One freshman, Kyle Postlethwait (3rd base/2nd/pitch), rounds out the team.
Croasmun counts the experience of his returners as a top strength of this years team. “Zach Yost is a three year starter and an excellent center fielder who will have to also play short stop at times,” he said.
“We have a couple more with experience, with Billiter a two year starter who started at first for us last year, Leonard played at second, and Still was starter in the infield. Barker, Stewart and Anderson saw time in the outfield. This is probably the most inexperienced team I’ve had at Paden City.”
But experience does not count for everything in baseball. “The kids are practicing hard and we are experimenting a lot in practice to see where they all fit in. We have only one senior so they will all be back next year.”
“These guys will get better as the season goes along. The only way you get better is to play. We’ll keep practicing and playing hard. Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we can compete in the sectional against Cameron and Valley Wetzel.”
The ‘Cats are scheduled to open their season at home vs. Hundred on March 16 at 5 p.m. The team will hit the road to Valley on March 21 for a 5 p.m. game with the Lumberjacks.
Coach Croasmun and team will host Bishop Donahue on March 22 and Doddridge County on March 24.