Witt: As in ‘hit’, Bulman: As in ‘high average’
There’s no question that when Jefferson finds itself facing a quality pitcher — one with control, velocity and strikes with both his fastball and curveball — there are two of its hitters that find people’s eyes focusing on them, looking for production when any others might be unable to solve the opponent’s pitches.
Paul Witt (as in “hit”) and Austin Bulman are the two hitters who become the attention-getters when the Cougars see a pitcher who just might let them down with a few hits and fewer runs. If Witt and Bulman don’t get on base . . . don’t score . . . or don’t drive in runs when the team sees a pitcher with knowhow and ability, then Jefferson is facing a shortage of runs.
The team record was 15-2 coming into another week loaded with games, the first one being a game on the road at Washington High.
Through those 17 games, the twosome of Witt and Bulman have both hit for a higher average than anyone in school history.
No Jefferson player has ever hit for a .600 batting average. Not since the school started playing games in 1973. Not in any of the 11 seasons when state championships were celebrated in Charleston where the titles were won.
As this week began and the second Washington game of the season was at hand, Witt was batting .563, going 27-for-48 while scoring 25 runs and driving in 15 from his No. 2 spot in the batting order.
Witt had eight doubles, a home run, five stolen bases… and had signed a binding offer made him by Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, a team that played in the 64-team NCAA tournament last season.
And as prolific as Witt has been at the plate in 2016, he is just as adept a fielder, playing shortstop for the Cougars.
On Labor Day weekend last year at a game staged in Morgantown at WVU’s new stadium between a collection of the best high school players from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, a 40-year major league scout told Jefferson coach John Lowery: “Your player, Witt, is the best player on West Virginia’s team. Nobody is even close.”
Bulman is an outfielder/pitcher who was also used as an infielder in 2015.
Through the 17 games of this season, he was 25-for-44… or a .568 batting average. Bulman had scored 18 runs, stolen four bases, drawn 10 walks and driven in 21 runs while usually batting third, fourth or fifth in the lineup.
Jefferson has beaten the other five teams in the two counties of Jefferson and Berkeley. Its two losses were when blanked, 3-0, by St. James (South Carolina) in Myrtle Beach and at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. The Cougars have not lost to a team from West Virginia.
Last year en route to an 11th state championship in school history, the Cougars encountered Spring Mills and right-handed pitcher Wyatt Stuckey in the Region II semifinal game played during the afternoon at Spring Mills. Jefferson left-hander Andy Disque outdueled Stuckey that day in a 2-0 Jefferson win.
This year, Stuckey lost in a night game at Spring Mills,
2-1, when Jefferson’s Austin Cross hurled a two-hitter and fanned 12 Cardinals.
There is a distinct possibility that Jefferson and Spring Mills (Stuckey) could meet in another Region II semifinal game this season . . . and if that happens, then Witt and Bulman will have the full attention on their shoulders of the many people who believe the Cougars can successfully defend their 2015 Region II title and return to Charleston for the state tournament.