When last seen, the Wyoming East baseball team was staging a pile up on the grass at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston after winning the Class AA state championship.
It was the first baseball title for East and for a Wyoming County team.
With most of last year’s starters back, the Warriors are going to take aim at another, according to head coach Ron Mayhew.
“We want to go back to Charleston and win again,” said Mayhew, whose team beat Herbert Hoover in a 1-0 thriller in last year’s final. “But we know we’ve got to go through Westside, Independence and the other teams on the other side of the bracket.”
The championship stirred interest, and 45 showed up on the first day of practice in February. That number has dropped to about 30 now.
“We do have people back,” Mayhew remarked. “It’s going to come down to pitching.”
First team all-stater Travis McKinney and right fielder Jarrett Caldwell graduated. Josh Zeboskey, an outfielder and pitcher, is now at another school.
Leading the returnees is pitcher Derek Thornton, a second team all-stater last year who threw the shut out in the championship game and also won the 2011 state semifinal game against Magnolia.
“Derek is smart and he’s got a pitching mentality,” Mayhew remarked.
The No. 2n spot in the rotation will go to junior Christian Hedinger, who had several starts last year but mostly played in the infield.
“He pitched quite a bit this summer and is looking good so far this year,” Mayhew remarked.
“When Derek pitches, the infield will be pretty much last year,” the coach noted. “When Christian pitches, we’ll have to make some changes.
Mayhew says last year’s .260 hitting club may have been his lightest hitting team ever. “I think we will hit better,” he commented. “I think our one and two (in the lineup) will be a little stronger, and I think the top of the batting order is going to be respectable. We’ll just have to try different things (with the lower half of the order).”
Practice so far has been largely indoors.
“We’ve worked a little on defense and mostly pitching,” Mayhew said. “We get outside every once in a while. It’s been so wet that we couldn’t do anything. But that’s not unusual to go from indoors to straight outdoors.”
East opens the season today (Wednesday) at Liberty.