Korey Dunbar batted .471 and was Nitro's top pitcher, leading the Wildcats to the state finals.
Nitro is enjoying quite a run in the ranks of West Virginia high school baseball.The Wildcats have reached the state tournament six consecutive years, with two titles and two runner-up finishes since 2007 .As of this season, they also boast three state Player of the Year honorees.Catcher Korey Dunbar, who guided Nitro to a 27-11 record behind the plate and on the mound, was a unanimous choice for the award given to the player chosen as the state's top player by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.Dunbar follows pitchers J.R. Bradley in 2010 and Chase Pickering in 2008 as recipients from Nitro to be honored, making the most of playing for the Wildcats."Nitro was great, the coaches were great to me, I definitely wouldn't change a thing," Dunbar said.Other players receiving votes for the award were Brady Weaver of Bridgeport, Ryan Pansch of Washington, Dylan Ramsey of St. Albans and Corey Quick of Princeton.However, it was Dunbar who stood out.During his senior season, he batted .471 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 RBIs and 39 runs scored for coach Steve Pritchard's team.He also struck out just 18 times and walked 44 times. The last two seasons, Dunbar has 21 home runs and 79 RBIs, and struck out a total of 31 times in 68 games his last two prep seasons.As the pitching ace for the Wildcats, Dunbar finished with a 5-2 record with eight saves. His earned run average in 62 innings was 1.35 and he struck out 98 batters with 21 walks.He earned postseason victories against St. Albans, Parkersburg South, Winfield and Fairmont Senior, the last of which propelled the Wildcats into the Class AAA title game against Princeton.There was speculation that Dunbar would be selected within the top 10 rounds of the Major League first-year player draft earlier this month, but the University of North Carolina signee wasn't chosen until the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him in the 39th round.Still, his selection made Dunbar the fourth Nitro player to be drafted out of high school in the last five years, following Pickering (selected in the 43rd round in 2008 by the Minnesota Twins), Matt Frazer (selected in the 26th round in 2009 by the Kansas City Royals) and Bradley (selected in the second round in 2010 by the Arizona Diamondbacks). Pickering went to West Virginia University for two seasons before finishing his career at West Virginia State, while Frazer is a rising junior at WVU.Dunbar was expected to go much earlier than the 1,196th pick, but wasn't disappointed in the outcome. Besides, he said he turned down an opportunity go much higher because of his desire to play at North Carolina.
"It was something where we as a family were told they were looking at me in the high rounds," Dunbar said. "Some of [the teams] were going to take me in the supplemental [draft] but most of them went with college guys and that's what this draft has turned into.
"I turned down a lot of money in the third round. The thing is, I have a great situation at UNC."Now, two weeks into his first summer after completing high school, Dunbar said he wouldn't change a thing."Definitely no regrets," he said. "I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I improved as a player and a person."Shortly after graduation, he began two courses - exercise sports science and English - in the summer session at UNC. Dunbar isn't playing baseball this summer, instead focusing on getting his feet firmly planted at Chapel Hill."I have classes Monday through Friday, but it's fun," Dunbar said. "I can get six hours over with and have a lighter load for the spring. I get around all these players, get the medical screening, physical, all that stuff.
"I get down here, it was a little stressful the beginning of the week, but other than that, it's been fun getting to meet the guys on the team. It's an amazing place. A great place to be."Past winners of the West Virginia high school baseball Player of the Year award, as awarded by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association (starting in 1987): 2012 - Korey Dunbar, Nitro
2011 - Caleb Ross, Cabell Midland2010 - J.R. Bradley, Nitro2009 - Brandon King, Martinsburg2008 - Chase Pickering, Nitro2007 - Arik Sikula, South Charleston2006 - Bo Darby, Logan2005 - Alex Wilson, Hurricane2004 - Josh Whitlock, Ripley2003 - Anthony Whittington, Buffalo2002 - Daniel Carte, Hurricane2001 - Brandon Chambers, Logan2000 - Jimmy Rhodes, Jefferson1999 - Josh Cenate, Jefferson1998 - John Gouzd, Fairmont Senior1997 - Dwayne Smith, East Fairmont1996 - Todd Neff, Paden City1995 - Jon Adkins, Wayne1994 - Travis Harper, Circleville1993- Jared Camp, Huntington East1992- Tim Adkins, Wayne1991- Jamie Connor, Hedgesville1990- Ryan Williams, Elkins1989 - David DeMoss, North Marion1988 - John Lowery, Jefferson1987 - Doug Creek, Martinsburg