The varsity high school athletic season in West Virginia is nearing the end, which means the school year is coming to a close.
After a frightful winter that featured record-setting snowfall, the spring has been kind to most of the Mountain State’s outdoor sports. The season is coming to a close with state tournaments in baseball, tennis, track and softball rapidly approaching.
Postseason will tell a lot about Nitro’s Bradley
Nitro High School senior baseball star J.R. Bradley started his career more than three years ago with high hopes and high expectations. He’s met all of those, getting notice from more than a dozen scouts as he improved his record to 7-0 with a 6-0 victory over Sissonville.
Scouts had the youngster reaching 91 mph on the radar gun in the seventh inning. Bradley already is committed to North Carolina State. If he chooses to attend college, he’ll be taught by Tom Holliday, the father of Major League star Matt Holliday.
Bradley, who is expected to be drafted in next month’s Major League First-Year Player Draft, has a 0.32 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 43 innings. As a hitter, Bradley has 10 home runs.
Nitro Coach Steve Pritchard, whose team won the 2008 Class AAA title before finishing as runner-up last year, hasn’t pitched Bradley against some of the stronger postseason competition. The Wildcats face cross-river rival St. Albans in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 1 tournament this week. Bradley hasn’t thrown against the Red Dragons this season.
If Nitro survives the best-of-three series, it’ll face the winner of Section 2, which includes Ripley, Parkersburg and Parkersburg South. Bradley hasn’t pitched against Section 2 favorite Ripley, but has combined to give up only three hits against Parkersburg and Parkersburg South combined.
The winner of that regional semifinal will face the winner between Section 3 and 4, which represents the strongest Class AAA group of teams in the state – Cabell Midland, Huntington, Spring Valley, Winfield, Hurricane and Lincoln County.
Among those teams, Bradley has thrown against Spring Valley and Winfield, his only two starts in which he’s surrendered runs. He gave up five hits against Spring Valley and eight against Winfield. The 6-foot-2 senior has his victories against Sissonville (Class AA), Lincoln (AA), Chapmanville (AA), along with Parkersburg South (AAA), Parkersburg (AAA), Spring Valley (AAA) and Winfield (AAA).
The best girls tennis has to offer
George Washington High School’s Erica White dominated the better part of her varsity career, winning three Class AAA No. 1 singles championships (2006, ’07, '09). This year, the chase to be the top girls player in the state is up for grabs.
Parkersburg senior Alex Bush, who will be attending Cleveland State University to continue her tennis career, and Cabell Midland junior Stephanie Fox, are expected to vie for the title. Bush was the only player besides White to win a title in the last five years, defeating Fox in the 2008 championship. That year, Fox topped White in the semifinals before losing to Bush in the championship.
No. 1 girls singles is top-heavy with Bush and Fox. Cabell Midland senior Bethany Law, who played in the finals at No. 1 in 2007, is the heavy favorite to win at No. 2. The 2009 team champions in the girls division were Huntington (Class AAA) and Charleston Catholic (Class AA-A).