Wildcats Return Six Lettermen
Veteran Coach Brent Croasmun is entering his 32 season leading the Wildcat program and will look for the leadership of four veteran senior returnees to give the ‘Cats success in 2019.
Aside from 16 players forming the team, Croasmun will have veteran assistant Jeff Hohn by his side for the 15th straight year. The two work well together and that should be a plus for the program.
The Wildcats won 13 games in 2018 and lost eight; they were the Mason Dixon Champions for the fourth straight year and were runner-up in the OVAC Class A tournament.
Lost from that team to graduation are Kolton Elliott who hit .368 and held down third base, plus Marcus Allen – a staple in centerfield who had an on-base average of .361. The two combined to score 28 runs, had 36 hits and knocked in 22 runs.
However they didn’t leave the cupboard bare, and Coach Croasmun is confident his veterans along with some newcomers will lead the ‘Cats to another successful season. Competition for playing time is already shaping up with several positions still undecided.
Opening season is scheduled for Friday, March 15, against Morgantown Trinity, and the home opener is slated for Saturday March 16 versus Wirt County.
With not much time actually spent on the practice field the Wildcats may be a little rusty starting out, but the group has potential to be a contender in league play.
Pitching could be the strong point for this team with as many as nine players potentially able to take the mound. Seniors Trey Slider and Matt Saxon will likely get the call most of the time.
“We have four solid seniors who I hope will carry this team with their leadership,” Croasmun explained.
“Trey Slider is a three-year starter at pitcher and first base. Matt Saxon is a three-year starter who can pitch and play just about any position in the field. He has good speed and is an outstanding base runner,” Croasmun added.
He continued, “Jordan Stackpole is a two-year starter who is our utility player. He has played just about every position the last two years.
“Ryan Cross will be our catcher for the third year now. He will also pitch some. All four of these seniors played legion ball this summer and have improved their skills. Brad Baker will start again in left field and he did a solid job last season.”
Probable starters for this year will be Cross at catcher, Slider at first, Stackpole or freshman Alec Chaplan at second; Stackpole, junior Clayton Thomas or Chaplan will man third, while Saxon or Thomas for be at shortstop.
The infield will likely be a combination of the above depending on the pitching rotation.
Outfielders will be sophomore Isaac Neff, Saxon or Slider in center, with Neff or sophomore Carson Palmer in right field while Baker will handle left field.
Other players competing for outfield spots include seniors Alex McCoy and E. J. Weber.
Sophomores Hunter Fletcher and Scott Lavole, plus freshmen Tobin McEldowney, Brandon Hizer and Jassup Spragg.
Coach Croasmun said the ‘Cats are close to figuring out the lineup and need to find an infielder and two outfielders from the contenders.
He said Chaplan has shown some infield skills and looks to get a start at second, third or short.
Neff and Palmer seem to have the edge for the outfield. Neff and Thomas both are looking to some innings on the mound. Neff is a lefty while Thomas has a very strong arm.
“These kids have a positive attitude and really love to play baseball.”
“Our goals are the same as last year; we want to make the OVAC play-offs, win our sectional, and win the Mason Dixon Championship for the fifth year in a row.
“We play a very competitive schedule and realize we have to work hard to be successful. There are some real good Class A baseball teams in the Ohio Valley and we hope to be mentioned in that group,” coach Croasmun said.
Look for the Wildcats to have a good year, barring injuries or any other problems.