Sherman junior John Hunter slides under the tag of Ravenswood's Jesse Brown to swipe a base. Hunter is hitting .531 and has stolen 33 bases for the Boone County school.
SETH - It has been 23 years since the Sherman baseball team has sniffed a West Virginia state high school championship game. The Tide fell to Independence in the Class AA title game in 1990.
There have been lean baseball years for the Boone County school since that time and in 2012, the Tide fell to Class A status due to a steady drop in enrollment.
Coach Jeremiah Pettry realizes that the chance to coach a student-athlete like first baseman John Hunter doesn't come along very often.
"He has all of the tools you could ask for. He can play any position on the field, he hits for average, with power, he runs exceptionally well and has baseball instincts on the base paths you can't teach,'' said Pettry.
Hunter's passion for baseball has been growing since the age of 4. His passion for the game shines through in his actions.
"He lines the field before games and takes pride in our baseball facility, He is an amazing kid,'' said Pettry.
After a recent doubleheader against Ravenswood, the left-handed slugger was hitting a cool .531 with five home runs, 28 RBIs, nine triples and eight doubles. The junior has swiped 33 bases this season.
On the mound, the All-Southern Coalfield Conference selection has lacked run support while going 4-3 with a 3.79 ERA and fanning 51 batters in 361/3 innings. Over the last two seasons, Hunter has developed a knuckleball that has been a challenge for Tide catchers to corral.
Hunter, 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, may be better suited as a center fielder on the next level. His speed and arm strength would allow him to cover serious real estate.
"He has the range and instincts to play a wonderful shortstop and outfield, but as a lefty on our club, we just need him at first base for the better of the team this year,'' Pettry said.
Hunter, who has no desire to participate in other sports, aspires to play on the collegiate level. As an honor student with advanced placement courses, he has priorities clearly set.
"I just love every aspect of the game of baseball. I love the mental side and the strategy of the game. I enjoy working on my game and getting better,'' Hunter said.
"My studies are my number one focus, then baseball.''
Wins have not come easy for the Tide. As of last week, Sherman has won just seven games. The Maroon and Gold is still playing a mostly Class AA schedule this season that includes three AAA clubs. Sherman has recently started as many as five freshmen.
Hunter has gone 6 for 12 versus AAA competition from the Mountain State Athletic Conference this season.
The Tide looks to line up a predominately Class A schedule for 2014. Regardless of who his team plays, Hunter is sure to be a hit if he keeps playing like this.