After season-closing sprint, Gonzalez heads to Davis & Elkins College
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Elkins is located about as far away from “baseball weather” as any way station can be. It’s in the hills of Randolph County and it seems to always wait on spring to decide to come forth from the snow-covered leaves and take hold at Harpertown Field on the campus at Davis & Elkins College.
Davis & Elkins College has only recently returned to a conference more familiar to its alumni, students and most West Virginians.
When the long-standing West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) literally went out business, the Senators had to look for new digs.
The school doesn’t sponsor a football team, so its choices of a new league to play in were limited. It went to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and found new relationships after being comfortable playing the likes of Fairmont, West Virginia Wesleyan, West Liberty, Shepherd and Glenville for so long.
Several years later, the Mountain East Conference — where many of the former WVIAC schools had landed — began losing members itself. Urbana went out of business. Shepherd and Virginia-Wise left to join other conferences.
Davis & Elkins and Alderson-Broaddus came back to the MEC. Frostburg was asked to join as was UNC-Pembroke for football only.
Winning in any conference has often been a haphazard project for Senators’ teams. Recruiting to the mountains has never been easy.
In baseball, the Senators must do much more than emphasize the assets of the program. The campus atmosphere, the camaraderie of the student body, the student-teacher ratio and the real chance to play even as a freshman are all legitimate selling points.
Last baseball season the Senators finished with a 7-23 record. All the games were played against MEC rivals.
Now, second-year head coach Tim Miller has more knowledge of what it will take to displace West Virginia State and Charleston as the conference’s South Division leaders.
One of the players he will continue to build with is Jefferson High shortstop Kamian Gonzalez, a 2021 Cougar graduate who turned some heads in his direction with his hitting accomplishments in the Class AAA Regional and then the state tournament in Charleston.
Gonzalez had at least one hit in all the Sectional tournament games against Washington and Hampshire. Then he stung Martinsburg with a 3-for-3 batting effort in the final win of the Regional — a victory that sent Jefferson off to the state tournament to join Bridgeport, Hurricane and St. Albans.
Even though the Cougars dropped a 7-5 verdict to Bridgeport in their only game in Charleston, Gonzalez had another 3-for-3 day at the plate, raising his season-finishing batting average to .356.
Gonzalez played in all 31 games of Jefferson’s season — which closed with a 27-4 record. He had 101 plate appearances with 90 official at-bats. Among his 32 hits were three doubles, one triple and two home runs. He drove in 18 runs while usually batting sixth, seventh or eighth in the batting order.
Not only did Gonzalez start every game at shortstop, but he also appeared in nine games as a relief pitcher. He won his only pitching decision while logging 14.1 innings and fanning 19 batters. His ERA was 1.95 and he was trusted more and more because he came in throwing strikes and staying away from surrendering walks or hitting batters.
Versatility is always needed by any baseball coach, especially finding a pitcher with strike-throwing capabilities.
Gonzalez joins a team that is seeking to move upward against its MEC brethren. He’s versatile enough to play several infield positions or even move to the outfield.
If his bat is as effective as it was in June of this high school season when late February and March shed their winter ways in Elkins in 2022, he will be helping the Senators open some eyes as a team.