NEW MARTINSVILLE - Plenty was expected out of Magnolia and senior Kyle Elliott when the high school baseball season started.Playing in their first season in West Virginia Class A with Elliott, an all-state player in the AA ranks a season ago, the Blue Eagles were one of the preseason favorites to win it all.While they came up two runs short - falling 9-8 to first-time champion Charleston Catholic in the state title game - Elliott was able to help the Blue Eagles pull off a rare all-state feat.Elliott, who was 8-1 with five saves and an ERA of .089 on the hill and hit .437 with five home runs and 42 RBI, was named the captain of the Class A baseball team, announced Monday by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.In doing so, he became the third Magnolia player to be so honored in a major sport, as classmates Steven Rogalski (football) and Mark Winters (boys basketball) were also selected as Class A captains.Elliott started a Class AA state semifinal his sophomore year and got knocked around a bit against Logan, but he learned a bunch from that experience."I think after that loss, I definitely took it hard because I thought that I should have pitched a little better," Elliott said. "I think I grew up a lot over that offseason. I finally learned how to actually pitch. Earlier in my high school years, I was just more of a thrower."This time around, Elliott worked 4 2/3 innings of scoreless - and hitless - relief in the state semifinal against Notre Dame, helping his team get over that hump.
Joining him are teammates Ryan Walton, also a member of last year's Class AA first team (.432 average, eight doubles, 58 runs scored), and Chandler Sapp (.532 batting average, 66 hits, two home runs, 40 RBIs).Two members of the Class A-champion Fighting Irish were also selected in Kiefer Hovorka and Rocco Wilcox, both repeat first-teamers, while pitcher Andy Hoyer was named the captain of the second team.Much like his team, Hovorka was able to erase some tough state-tournament history. He twice started games at Appalachian Power Park during his career, only to see the Irish lose both. He gained a measure of redemption by beating the Blue Eagles in this year's final."We knew he was going to be super focused as a senior," Charleston Catholic coach Bill Mehle said. "He did a great job of letting them put the ball in play and trusting the defense."Hovorka was 8-4 on the mound with a 1.99 ERA in 70 1/3 innings and hit .358 with 40 runs scored. Wilcox hit .411 with 63 runs scored, and drew 48 walks. On the hill, he went 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA.Both players were selected at utility spots along with Valley's Arik McGinnis, another of the eight repeat first-teamers, counting the two from Magnolia who were in AA a year ago.The pitchers are Gilmer County's Karl Bennington, who makes the list for a second straight year, Notre Dame's T.J. McKinsey (4-1, 1.26 ERA), and Bishop Donahue junior Hunter Kaschke (5-2, 1.6 ERA), one of only four players in school history to beat neighboring Class AAA John Marshall on the hill.
The catcher is Clay-Battelle's Kurt Latocha (.555 batting average, nine doubles, 21 RBIs), while the infield is made up of Notre Dame's Chris Petrucci (.413, 20 RBIs), another repeat first-teamer; East Hardy's Korey Foltz (.446, 37 RBIs), who moves up from second team; and Sherman junior John Hunter (.538, five home runs, nine triples, 35 RBIs, 41 stolen bases).Joining Sapp in the outfield are St. Marys junior Jarrod Lough (.521, seven HRs, 55 runs, 53 RBIs), and the last of the two-time all-staters in Parkersburg Catholic's Mitch Davis (.505, 58 runs, 32 RBIs, 14 doubles, six HRs, 23 walks).