By Rich Stevens
Attention to detail has paved the way for Cabell Midland High School’s baseball success.
Still, there is a learning curve involved before that attention shows up in the form of victories.
That’s why the 2003 Class AAA state champions are 4-3 while coach Tracy Brumfield tries to figure out how to fix some things.
OK, so 4-3 isn’t bad, but for Cabell Midland …
“We have to cut our swings down,” said Brumfield, the son of West Virginia Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame member and Marshall University assistant coach George Brumfield. “A couple of our guys, every time you saw them they were pulling out.”
It’s certainly no crime to lose to All-State pitcher Chase Pickering, but the 6-foot-3 senior left-hander struck out 15 batters – too many strikeouts for a team known for its ability to hit two-strike pitches. Nitro won the game, 9-3.
“We have to cut down our swings and take the ball opposite field,” said Brumfield, whose team was the 2006 runner-up. “We’re going to get in a lot of two-strike drills until we cut our swings down.”
That’s why the Knights – year-in and year-out – are one of the state’s most-improved teams during the course of the season.
“You have to get kids to buy into the program,” Brumfield said. “Last year we had the same problem with the big, long swings. We hit a couple home runs early in the year, so now you want to stop dropping and pulling out. We have to go back to the drawing board.”
Central: Best of the Best Softball Tournament on Tap
The 11th Annual Best of the Best softball tournament will take place this week with 36 teams converging on Putnam County-based Buffalo.
The field includes all but one of the West Virginia state championship team from the last two seasons.
The tournament begins on Wednesday with Class AA competition, followed by Class A on Thursday and Class AAA on Friday. The final round of pool play will be Saturday morning before bracket play begins.
There are 14 teams competing in Class AAA, 10 in Class A and 12 in Class AA.
The tournament will also make use of Buffalo’s baseball field, which like the softball facility, has a turf infield.
The Buffalo baseball and softball teams have a long, successful history. The baseball team won the 2006 Class A state championship and the softball team won the 2002 and 2004 single-A championships.
North: Veteran Baseball Coaches Roll On
Three active high school baseball coaches in West Virginia have been on the bench for 1,000 games: Jefferson’s John Lowery, Magnolia’s Dave Cisar and John Marshall’s Bob Montgomery.
Montgomery, the Monarchs’ 34-year coach, and Magnolia’s Dave Cisar, the 35th-year coach of the Blue Eagles, haven’t quite matched the success rate of Lowery.
Lowery has won nine baseball titles with Jefferson, while Montgomery and Cisar have one each with their respective schools.
Still, Montgomery is off to a good start this season with a 7-0 record.
The Monarchs, who won the school’s only state title in 1985, are fueled by the hitting of Jesse Persinger, who hit two home runs in an 11-9 victory over Brooke.
Magnolia, which won the Class AA title in 2006, is off to a 4-2 start.
Basketball: Charleston Catholic to Host 12-Team Showcase
Twelve teams will converge on the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex on Jan. 3, 2009, for a showcase of state basketball talent.
Charleston Catholic Athletic Director Bill Gillispie, responsible for organizing the event, said he hasn’t come up with a name for it, although it won’t need one to attract attention.
The event features six girls’ teams and six boys’ teams, with play beginning at noon and the last game tipping off at 7:30 p.m.
Four of the girls teams played in the state tournament last month, including Class AA champion Summers County.
The first three games are girls’ contests. At noon, Charleston Catholic and St. Joseph square off in a rematch of last month’s Class A semifinal won by St. Joseph. At 1:30 p.m., Nitro – featuring guard Sky Assif, who transferred from University – will play the Hawks. The final girls' game features defending Class AA champion Summers County facing Sissonville and All-State guard Kaitlin Snyder.
The boys’ portion of the schedule pits 2008 Class AA semifinalists Weir and Bluefield at 4:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., Poca – featuring 2008 runner-up for State Player of the Year Noah Cottrill – faces Magnolia, which returns four starters.
Finally, Class A state runner-up Charleston Catholic faces semifinalist Gilbert at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students per game or $6 per person for all day – a bargain by any standards.
“We’re not in this to make money,” Gillispie said. “We just want to showcase some of these teams for basketball fans.”
The event replaces the Catholic Christmas tournament, which has been held for the past two years at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex – formerly the Players Club – on Hillcrest Drive, past the YMCA.
East: Jefferson has a Bulldog in Campbell
Nine-time Class AAA champion Jefferson has somebody every season to pick up the responsibility of bulldog.
This year it’s Brandon Campbell.
Campbell is 4-0 after striking out 15 batters against sectional foe Martinsburg. Jefferson, the defending Class AAA champion, is 10-1 this season.
Rich Stevens, a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, covers West Virginia for MaxPreps.com.