State tourney notebook: Fields might return to mound for Hoover in Class AA title game
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Herbert Hoover is tinkering with the idea of returning ace Tristan Fields to the mound for today's Class AA title game against Fairmont Senior.
First pitch is set for 10 a.m. at Power Park.
Fields was struck on the right leg by a comebacker during the first inning of Thursday night's victory against Independence and didn't pitch the rest of the game, though he did return to play third base in the fifth inning.
"He's fine,'' Hoover coach Brian Young said Friday. "He was at practice today and was able to do most everything. He is still a little sore.''
Young said he and his coaching staff haven't determined if Fields will get the start against Fairmont Senior or play the infield.
"He can pitch,'' Young said, "but we just haven't decided. We're going to look at a couple other things.''
The game matches the top two teams in the Gazette's final AA state ratings - the Huskies (30-4) are No. 1 and the Polar Bears (28-6) are No. 2.
"We've got to come to play another good ball team,'' Young said. "We expect to do a little bit more of the same - come play good defense, pitch the ball real well and that will keep us in the ballgame.''
Hunter White, who clouted the game-ending grand slam in Hoover's 7-3 semifinal victory over Independence Thursday, doesn't think the moment will be too big for the Huskies to handle. They are appearing in their second straight AA title game, having fallen to Wyoming East 1-0 in last year's finals.
"We've got to come out and play hard,'' White said, "and do what we know how to do.''
Irish need pitching depth
Charleston Catholic will find out just how deep its pitching staff is in today's Class A title game against No. 1 Magnolia (31-4), which is set to go off about 1 p.m.
The Irish (29-9), the No. 2 team in the Class A state ratings, used both of their top two pitchers to survive with a 6-5 win over Valley in the semifinals.
Andy Hoyer went six-plus innings, but since he faced two batters in the seventh, he is ineligible to pitch at all today. Kiefer Hovorka worked one inning and can pitch as many as six today.
If the game goes seven (or more) innings, the Irish will have to dip into the efforts of either Connor Golden or Rocco Wilcox.
"We've got three good arms we can throw against Magnolia,'' said Catholic coach Bill Mehle. "You need them to win the state championship, so we'll see. I hope our guys have their best stuff tomorrow.
"Obviously, we're going against a legendary program and coach. We watched them today. They can do all the little things well, so it's going to be a battle for the state championship.''
Magnolia coach Dave Cisar, in his 40th season and carrying more than 800 career victories, seeks his second state title. The Irish have not captured a baseball crown, and will be appearing in the finals for the second time in three years.
"They look like a real solid bunch in the infield,'' Irish third baseman Connor Golden said of the Blue Eagles, "so we'll just have to come out and be aggressive and play our game.
"If we continue to play our game they way we know how to, the way we practiced all year, I have the utmost confidence in us.''
A legitimate excuse
It was a rough day in the field Friday for Parkersburg South, which lost to Hedgesville 6-3 in the AAA semifinals in large part due to seven errors. At the center of that was senior shortstop Clayton Walters, who made five miscues.
While athletes never like to make excuses, perhaps Walters had a pretty legitimate one - he was forced to wear a facemask out in the field to protect a broken jaw he suffered earlier in the season.
Parkersburg South coach Matt Null said Walters' vision was hindered a bit by the apparatus, and that despite a rough game, his presence on the club was vital in getting the Patriots to Charleston.
"Balls to his left, his glove side, have given him trouble," Null said. "High school athlete - if you make a mistake then it's in your mind. He's played very solid for us all year, it was uncharacteristic, he's got us where we're at, and we'd go with the same guys every day."
No senior discount for ND
Notre Dame lost in its Class A semifinal game against Magnolia on Friday morning, but it might not be the last time you see the Irish at Appalachian Power Park.
None of the 14 players on the Notre Dame roster are seniors. The Irish will return the core of its 2013 team with six juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen all having state tournament experience.