It’s late March and high school baseball season is here
Both Jefferson and Washington have been hampered by missed school days, missed outdoor practices and fields where the winter snows have been slow to melt away.
But the baseball schedules are here. And the veteran Cougar and Patriot teams are trying to be ready for the new season when it arrives.
Jefferson has eight starters from another team that posted a 20-plus win record for the 38th consecutive year. And Washington is much the same — bringing back eight starters to attempt to win the same Sectional and Regional titles it had in 2014.
Both teams have a core of versatile players who can play more than one position. Many players on both teams are pitcher/infielders or pitcher/outfielders.
Jefferson has left-handed pitchers Andy Disque, Dylan Carroll and Bradley Davis and starters Austin Bulman, Austin Cross, Andrew King and Charlie Barnholt. All seven of those athletes start at other positions or as the designated hitter when not pitching.
Paul Witt was a second-team all-state selection at shortstop last season. Outfielders Will Oliver, Chase Crockett and Brody Price are excellent defensively and Miguel Acosta returns at third base. Michael Tennant is a middle infielder.
Mason Steele may be the smallest player in the area this year, but his enthusiasm and aggressive style should make him a real problem for Jefferson’s opponents. Steele was on the junior varsity last season and will be joined on the varsity this year by Cole Walker, another jayvee standout in 2014.
Washington has no fewer than nine seniors it will have back from the team that took the Sectional title away from Jefferson in 2014.
Pitchers Ryan French, Zac Burch, Robert Cross, Mark McKee, Hunter Weaver and Trevor Pansch all play other positions. French is a shortstop with Burch, McKee, Cross and Weaver all taking their turns in the infield as well.
Pansch is often joined in the Patriot outfield by Corey Lewis and Dylan Mumaw. Texas Cobb returns as the team’s primary catcher.
Ty Carroll is returning infielder.
Both teams are scheduled to begin their respective seasons this week if they have gotten in the mandated 14 practices the WVSSAC says are necessary before any games can be played.
As they have done for years, both teams will journey to Myrtle Beach during the Spring Break where the Cougars will play Chancellor (Virginia), Westhill (New York) and Hammonton (New Jersey) in their first three games and the Patriots will face Nardonia (Ohio), Bishop Grimes (New York) and Atlantic Shores Christian (Virginia) in their first three games.
Jefferson and Washington are in the same Sectional with Musselman. Hedgesville, Spring Mills and Martinsburg are in another Sectional in Region 2.
Pitching depth seems assured on both teams. And as in high school baseball as well as Major League baseball, pitching is usually anywhere from 75 percent to 95 percent of the game.