Wildcat Baseball Looks Promising
With several veterans returning to the baseball lineup, the Paden City Wildcats are hoping to improve on last season’s 15-12 record and make a run in the state tournament.
Wildcat Head Coach Brent Croasmun returns to the helm for his thirty-first year of leading the Wildcats, and with the help of Assistant Coach Jeff Hohn – who has been with the Wildcats for 13 years, the duo hopes to put a quality team on the field. They feel they have the talent to do so.
Lost due to graduation are Hayden Hizer, four-year starter at pitcher and shortstop; Aaron Heasley, pitcher and second baseman; and Jake Pierce, outfield. While these three are hard to replace, Croasmun feels he has the personnel to fill those spots.
Seven lettermen return to form the nucleus: Senior Kolton Elliott will return at third, first, and pitching duties, while Senior Marcus Allen will return to center field. Junior lettermen returning include Ryan Cross as catcher and Matt Saxon as shortstop, first base, and pitcher. Junior Trey Slider will be at first base when not on the mound. Sophomore Clayton Thomas can play second, third, shortstop, and will also do some pitching. Brad Baker will man left field.
Last year the Wildcats were the OVAC Class A runner-up. They also won the Mason-Dixon Championship for the third straight year. Croasmun believes they have what it takes to do the same and even more in 2018.
“I think this team has the potential to be very competitive this year. We lost a couple of good players in Hizer and Heasley from last year, but we have capable players to step in and fill their shoes,” said Coach Croasmun.
“I think our defense is very solid. We have several players practicing pitching (eight). If we can throw strikes and play without too many errors, we can win several games. Anyone who knows baseball will agree that defense and pitching win games,” Croasmun said.
Probable starters for the Wildcats will be Cross at catcher with competition from senior newcomer C.W. Harton. The infield will be Slider and Elliott splitting time at first and Ethan Cross and Thomas vying for the second base job. Elliott and Thomas will also be used at third, while Saxon and Thomas will both get time at shortstop
The starting infield are all pitchers, so it depends on who is on the mound as to who plays where. Junior Jordan Stackpole may also see some time at first, and senior David Joy will do some pitching and could see time at first and third. Freshman Ty Cain can also play first and third bases.
The outfield will consist of Allen in right, Stackpole at center, and Baker in left. Others competing for time in the outfield are Alex McCoy (junior), Issac Neff (freshman), Carson Palmer (freshman), Nate Cooper (freshman), and Hunter Fletcher (freshman).
Leading the pitching staff will be Slider, Saxon, Elliott, and Joy. All of them pitched innings last year and are stronger this year. Thomas and Cross are two promising sophomores who will be counted on. Thomas has a good live arm and got to pitch during the summer. Cross has not pitched for a while due to an injury but has the potential to be a good pitcher.
Offensively the Wildcats will miss Hizer, who was one of the best hitters in the valley; however, they still have enough offense to win games. Elliott will be their power threat and has been a solid hitter for the past three years. Croasmun says they really don’t have any other power hitters but they have guys who are capable of getting the ball into gaps for doubles and triples. They also look to manufacture runs playing small ball (bunt and run).
“Our goals remain the same as in the past: make the OVAC playoffs, win the Mason-Dixon Conference again, win our sectional, and then see what happens from there. The kids have great attitudes and love to play the game. That’s all a coach can hope for,” added Croasmun.
Coach Croasmun said he would like to thank the parents who have helped raise money to support the Wildcats baseball program.
“We have a great group of parents who work very hard to give our kids the best facilities and chance to win. I would like to also thank all the sponsors and organizations who have contributed to the upgrading of our field. We now have a new scoreboard and new chain link fence around the field. There are some other things we would like to do and we will continue to improve our facility.”
Paden City will open its season on March 20, with a home contest versus Hundred, beginning at 5 p.m. Also added to the schedule have been games on April 13-14 at Tyler Consolidated in the wood bat tournament. There are also games on April 25, 26, 27, 30 and May 1 and 2.