No, Wayne High School doesn't have an automatic berth into the Class AA baseball tournament. But with four prep state baseball titles, three second-place finishes and one other appearance, it's easy to understand why some might think that.
This year's trip to Watt Powell Park was uneventful as No. 9 Wayne (20-12) defeated Mount View, 12-0, in the Class AA, Region IV final to reach the state tournament for the ninth time under coach George Brumfield.
Despite past success, this year's team might not have been expected to reach this level -- the Pioneers have just two seniors.
"We knew we had some talent coming up," Brumfield said. "I've had a lot of teams with seniors that did well, but I've had teams with a lot of seniors that didn't do well.
"Each group of individuals is different."
Offensively, senior John Pasley leads Wayne in hitting with a .404 average and 35 RBIs. He also has 29 runs and 15 stolen bases.
Junior Patrick Adkins follows with 33 RBIs and a .344 average, while junior Chris Coleman adds a .382 average, four home runs, 23 RBIs, 37 runs and 25 stolen bases.
Junior Shayne Smith will get the start on the mound for the Pioneers against Liberty on Thursday.
"He's a control pitcher," Brumfield said. "He's not overpowering but has a nice fastball, breaking ball and change-up."
Smith finished 6-3 with a 2.94 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 54 2-3 innings. Smith also had a .362 average with three home runs and 22 RBIs.
But if Smith is unable to finish, Brumfield will bring in Adkins.
Adkins, who missed part of the season with a pinched nerve in his arm and his battle with Crohn's disease, has struck out 33 in 17 innings.
"He lost about 20 pounds, and he has finally built back up his strength to be able to go in relief for us," Brumfield said. "He's been a big help."
Junior Matt Toney and Pasley follow Smith in wins with 5-2 and 4-2 records, respectively.
Brumfield said the Pioneers are familiar with the Mountaineers -- they played last season -- but the state tournament has its own atmosphere.
"In the state tournament, you don't know who is going to bring what to the table," Brumfield said. "It's a different ball game."
Wayne and Liberty battle 30 minutes after the first Class AA semifinal contest between Winfield (28-6) and Summers County (15-13) during the Thursday evening session.
Assistant sports editor Danny Carpenter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.