Notre Dame’s Wright throws three-hitter
From Staff Reports
    Notre Dame’s Jeremy Wright allowed just three hits in seven innings, while striking out nine in a 3-1 win over Doddridge County Saturday afternoon.
    Wright’s outing overshadowed Jody Griffin’s 10-strikeout performance for Doddridge County (4-7). “It was a cold day and both pitchers had a good day,” ND coach Mark Starkey said. “And that is what you expect on a cold day when both pitchers throw the ball hard.”
    Doddridge coach Dave Mires agreed with Starkey about the pitchers’ performances. “Both pitchers pitched great games,” said Mires. “The difference was, (Notre Dame) got the big hit when they needed it, and we didn’t.”
    Mike Nicholas led Notre Dame at the plate with a pair of doubles, while teammates Mark Calzonetti and Aaron Barberio each added a double. BenJo McKinney led Doddridge County by going 3-for-3 with a home run and double.
    LIBERTY 16, Parkersburg South 9: Liberty pounded out 17 hits in a convincing win over Parkersburg South late Friday.
Nick Matheny, Mike Schlicker and Trey Adams each homered for Liberty. Adams finished with four RBIs, while Nick Matheny and David Patterson each had three RBIs. Ryan Wagner and Schlicker each had two RBIs for Liberty (8-4).
Chad Southern picked up victory, while Josh Matheny earned the save.
 
Prep softball

    LIBERTY 8, Robert C. Byrd 1: Good defense, good pitching, timely hitting and walks helped Liberty past Byrd late Friday. “Our kids played like a team for the first time,” Liberty (3-7) coach Susan Hilton said. “I’ve been waiting for that all year.”
    Amy Bland struck out six to  claim the victory. Amy Curry was 2-for-3 while Michelle Allen had an RBI double. Amber Siders had a strong defensive game, according to Hilton.

College baseball

    CHARLESTON 9, Davis & Elkins 8, 12 innings: Charleston overcame a 6-0 deficit to rally past Davis & Elkins at Watt Powell Park. Ernie Galusky led D&E (17-14, 9-4 WVC) with four hits, including two doubles and three RBIs, while teammate Ryan Ferretti went 3-for-6 with a double.
    “When you’re up 6-0, the last  thing you think about is losing,” said D&E coach Lawrence Nesselrodt. “We just didn’t finish the job.”
    Donnie Reeves and Rodney Young each added two hits for D&E.

Local golf

Russell Allevato recorded a hole-in-one at Bel Meadow Country Club.
Allevato recorded the ace on hole No. 16 with a three-wood.
Fred Ashcraft and Bill Fogazzi witnessed the feat.
 
State prep

    Alan Fiddler, who guided unbeaten Moorefield High to a third-straight Class A football championship, has been voted West Virginia’s high school Coach of the Year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
    Fiddler, and other statewide coach and athlete honorees, will be recognized May 2 at the 53rd Annual Victory Awards Dinner at the Charleston Civic Center.
    The Yellow Jackets’ coach became the third mentor in state  history to guide teams to three consecutive state football playoff titles. He joins Frank Vincent of Charleston High (1968-1970) and Lou Nocida of Sistersville (1984-1986) as coaches winning the championship trifecta.
    “We’ve had a great run on athletes the last few years at Moorefield,’’ Fiddler said, “and this is a great honor because there are so many outstanding coaches in all sports in the state.’’
    Fiddler, a 1984 Musselman High and a 1989 West Virginia State graduate, turned an 0-10 team into a statewide contender in just three seasons.



Bengals make Fisher 1st ’Eer picked
The Associated Press
    CHARLESTON — The agonizing wait is over for Charles Fisher. The West Virginia defensive back was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of Saturday’s NFL draft. “I’m excited, I can’t be happier right now. It’s been building up and building up,” Fisher said.
    Defensive lineman John Thornton went to the Tennessee Titans and offensive lineman Solomon Page was taken by the Dallas Cowboys.
    In the third round, Gary Stills went to Kansas City and Amos Zereoue, with the evening’s last pick, was taken by Pittsburgh.
    Bengals defensive backs coach Ray Horton notified Fisher of his selection just before it was announced at 5:21 p.m.
Fisher was the sixth defensive back taken in the draft.
    The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Fisher impressed scouts with his speed and strength during workouts after the regular season.
The Mountaineers were shut out in the first round for the ninth straight year. The last WVU player taken in the first round was Renaldo Turnbull by the New Orleans Saints in 1990.


Grafton players
to face tough
competition in
junior regional
From Staff Reports
    Grafton basketball standout Sheena Zbosnik’s wish will be granted. The sophomore guard wanted to compete against the best competition she possibly could, play at a top level and see how far her game has progressed. Now, she will get her chance  along with over 900 other players.
    Zbosnik, along with two other Grafton players, will participate in the United States Junior National Eastern Regional Basketball Championship on July 12-18 in Columbus, Ohio.
    Zbosnik, along with freshman Heather McDaniel and senior Shilo Villaraza, earned the spot after competing in the tryout held earlier this month in Huntington.
    The tournament pits players from around the state with other players from 38 states. “This is a great opportunity,” said Zbosnik. “It’s an honor to be selected, knowing how good the competition was trying out. “All along, I’ve wanted to see how good I am. I guess now I’ll get to see.”
    Zbosnik admits there will be some jitters once it comes time to play, but she says she will treat it like any other game and gradually get into a flow.
    Along with using the Junior Nationals as a barometer, Zbosnik figures on using the event as a chance to improve on other facets of her game. “Playing with this caliber of players, you definitely find out what your weaknesses are,” said Zbosnik. “What’s important is  that you find them so that when the regular season rolls around you know what you need to work on.
“I know for me, I need to work on using my left hand a lot more. That’s what I’m going to work the most on.”
    The Junior Nationals is just one of many tournaments Zbosnik will participate in this year. Her AAU team will take part in a tournament later next month at Penn State University.
    All the work may seem like a tough load, but Zbosnik says it’s well worth it. “At times it does get a little tiring,” she said. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was six years old. I really don’t consider something that I love work. “Ever since I started playing, I’ve worked and prepared myself to get better.”
    And her ultimate goal? “More than anything, I’ve always wanted to play college basketball,” Zbosnik said. “I figure  this is a great way to get exposure and get better at the same time.”


Notre Dame on
road to success?
Vans help players cope with long trips
by Matt Harvey
SPORTS EDITOR
    Playing in the Mason-Dixon Conference, plus trying to schedule some other top Class A teams, means plenty of travel for Notre Dame High School’s baseball team.
-There’s Cameron. That’s, oh, about two hours away.
-Then, there’s Tygarts Valley, about an hour and 45 minutes from Clarksburg.
-And the trips to Clay-Battelle and Gilmer County both take about an hour and 15 minutes.
-Oh, yes, then there’s the “short” jaunt to Pine Grove to play Valley Wetzel (an hour away).
    It’s enough to drive the 20 members of the Irish team to distraction. “When you take a long bus trip,” said NDHS senior Brian Rokisky, who took plenty in his first two seasons, “you feel like you don’t want to play.” So, Notre Dame parents are pitching in to make sure their sons don’t strike out before the game starts.
    For the past two seasons, a handful have been chauffeuring the ballplayers in vans and cars instead of buses.
Definitely an improvement, the players say. “It’s easier with vans,” senior  Aaron Barberio said.
“Buses make the ride seem longer. You don’t get as tired in vans.”
    Notre Dame has had plenty of travel since it joined the Mason-Dixon Conference 12 years ago, coach Mark Starkey said.
Before that, 15-year veteran Starkey and the Irish played as independents. An even better solution than  vans and cars obviously would be to find a way to play closer to home. But as an independent, it’s simply too hard to schedule 30 games a season, Starkey said.
    And the other feasible solution, joining the Big 10 Conference, could mean a long season for the Class A Irish; the other teams in the Big 10 are Class AA or Class AAA and subsequently are likely to have deeper pitching staffs.
    “I don’t think day-in and day-out we’d be competitive in the Big 10 Conference,” Starkey said. “We could be competitive for one or two games a week, but not four games in a week,” Starkey said. Which brought Starkey to other solutions.
    First, he tries to schedule long road trips on weekends or during spring break.  That way, his players don’t have to wake up early the next day for classes.
    Then, there’s the mobile caravan of cars and vans. Have the moves helped NDHS win games? No way to measure that for sure.
    But Starkey is certain it couldn’t have hurt. “On long bus trips, I would feel worn out by the time I got to the field,” he said.   “It has to take a toll on the kids on the bus.  “Even on the van, it takes some toll,” Starkey said.
    Rokisky and junior Jeremy Wright certainly are fans. “It’s hot on those buses,” Rokisky says. Added Wright, “and in vans, you get to sit in air conditioning.”
    Cool!


Youthful Grafton improving
by Matt Harvey
SPORTS EDITOR
    With nine seniors gone from  last year’s club that made it to the regional finals, Grafton baseball coach Terry Cole has made an adjustment in goals.
    Rather than shooting for a certain amount of wins, or gunning hard for a Big 10 Conference title, Cole is looking for steady improvement.
    “We’ve told these kids, ‘Keep getting better. Work as hard as you can. The regular season doesn’t mean much when it comes to tournament time. It’ll all pay off,’” Cole said.
    Key losses from last year were second baseman/pitcher Bryan Gillespie, catcher Terry Mayle and center fielder Jeremy Mayle. Gillespie and Jeremy Mayle are playing at Potomac State, while Terry Mayle, Jeremy’s cousin, was recruited by Alderson-Broaddus.
    Their absence hurt Grafton early on, Cole said. “I think at first, the kids were used to seeing those seniors there dominating play for the last two or three years,” Cole said. “It was a shock to them.” The shock has been replaced by growing confidence.
    That’s due in large part to the leadership and patience of two key seniors, Sam Gerkin and Jeremy Steenstra, Cole said.
As Grafton stumbled — making eight errors in the first game, for example — Steenstra and Gerkin “never got down on the young players. They’ve just been positive all the way,” Cole said.
    Gerkin, an All-Big 10 Conference first-teamer from last season, was hitting .550 through his first 20 at-bats with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .654 on-base percentage.
    Steenstra, also Grafton’s ace, was hitting .546 through his first 22 at-bats, with two homers and an on-base percentage of .600.
    “The enthusiasm has been great,” Cole said. “Kids were busting their butts this spring to earn a starting spot, and they’re still busting their butts to keep a starting spot. And other kids are busting their butts trying to take those spots away.”

    Gilmer County, ranked fifth in Class A,  fits the definition of team play. “We don’t have anybody who’s good enough to carry this team anywhere,” coach David Jaffre said.
    Perhaps not, but Gilmer, which won 11 of its first 14, has plenty of solid players who have been carrying it plenty of places over the past several years.
    Last year, for instance, Gilmer finished a sparkling 23-5, losing to Moorefield in a regional final.
And in 1996, Jaffre’s squad made it to the state tournament.
    Gilmer has only two seniors, pitcher/right fielder Tommy Hamric, unbeaten in his first four decisions, and catcher Johnny Persinger. “We’ve got some boys who’ve played an awful lot, but basically we’re a young team,” Jaffre said.
Jaffre’s strategy: Assemble a lineup that can put the ball in play consistently.
    A couple of other key players are Lance Woodford, a junior pitcher who started out 1-1, and Andy Williamson, a sophomore pitcher who won four of his first five decisions.
    Gilmer plays in the Little Kanawha Conference. That means plenty of games against Class AA teams, and plenty of road trips.
    The long bus trips, tough competition and variety of umpiring styles all help toughen his team, Jaffre said. “We want to be competitive, but we don’t want to set our sights on unrealistic goals,” he said. “If we go to the LKC playoffs and get beat, we’ve got to realize we’re getting beat by Class AA teams. When we go to our sectional ... that’s where we want to be competitive.”



Bridgeport teams earn high marks
by Eric Stoneking
CORRESPONDENT
    WEST UNION — The Bridgeport boys and girls track teams finished third and fourth in the Cline Stansberry Meet at Cline Stansberry Stadium on late Friday night. “I was real happy with how our boys finished,” Bridgeport boys coach Jon Griffith said. “Although, we finished third we have the potential to do much better.”
    Amy Miller was once again impressive for Bridgeport’s girls  team. She finished with high-point honors for the meet with 28  1/2 points. Miller said she never thought about winning high-point honors. She simply wanted to improve her times.
    Bridgeport girls coach Jim Dawson was impressed with Miller’s performance. “Amy came through for us and that was a big difference in where we finished,” Dawson said. “Theresa Melko also performed well in the discus, and placing two girls in the pole vault was a big part of our success also.”
    The Grafton girls team also had an outstanding meet, finishing third. “The distance kids definitely scored well in this high quality meet,” coach Paul Martin said. “If you can score well at this meet then you can definitely fare well in Charleston at the state meet.”
    Perhaps the most impressive finish of the day was by South Harrison’s Andrea Lambert. She outran her competitors in the final stretch of the 300 intermediate hurdles, giving South  Harrison its only first place finish.
    Lambert rarely has the chance to practice for the event. South Harrison doesn’t have a regulation track and without adequate facilities and equipment, Lambert is forced to either travel to Robert C. Byrd or wait until the next meet to practice.
“I was not expected to place in this event at all,” Lambert said. “I really turned it on in the  last leg.”
    Ritchie County eventually increased its lead to win the boys meet with 136 points.  Williamstown was a distant second with 119 points, followed by Bridgeport with 71 and University with 50. Doddridge County won the girls portion of the meet with 101  points. Magnolia finished second with 82, followed by Grafton (85) and Bridgeport (52 1/2).


Prep football isn’t likely to spring up
Many say extra
drills won’t work in W.Va.
by Matt Harvey
SPORTS EDITOR
    Colleges all over the country practice football in the spring. Some states have high school football practice — or games —in the spring or summer.
    The extra sessions help players develop their techniques. Quarterbacks and receivers, for instance, can work on their routes.
    West Virginia, however, doesn’t offer spring or summer football. And according to many area high school coaches, it likely will stay that way.
 
    In West Virginia, most say, there simply aren’t enough athletes to support spring football without forcing kids to choose between it, baseball and track.
    Warren Carter, executive secretary of the Secondary Schools Activities Commission — the governing body for state scholastic sports — says spring football would infringe on traditional spring sports.
    “That probably has been the infinite wisdom of someone before me, that spring football is just not a feasible option,” Carter said. “You take some of your larger states that have schools probably three times the size of our largest school, and maybe there are sufficient athletes that spring football would be a viable option.”
    Plenty of others share that view, including South Harrison football coach Brad Jett. Of 28 players back from Jett’s team last fall, 22 run track or play baseball. “So, I’d have six kids for practice,” Jett said. Unless, of course, he made players choose between football, baseball or track.
    No way, Jett said. “These kids are only in high school one time,” he said. “This might be their only chance to play baseball or run track.”
    Most coaches also note that football players already lift weights and are involved in other informal but important off-season conditioning. “I think football in the spring  might be running it in the ground too much,” Valley Wetzel coach Tom West said.
    There are logistical concerns, as well, in a state where football fields often are rough in even the best conditions.
“Because of the weather, I don’t think spring football would fly,” Grafton coach Mike Skinner said.
    There is another option: States like Pennsylvania and Maryland have summer “passing” leagues. Teams play a non-contact brand of football that strictly involves throwing and catching. It’s a great chance for receivers and quarterbacks to work on timing, routes, three-step drops and other techniques. And it’s a way for players to stay in shape at a time when ice cream and hammocks beckon. For some of those reasons, Elkins High School coach Greg Hott is in favor of summer ball.
    Bordering states have summer football programs, Hott notes. And summer football would be no different than Babe Ruth  or American Legion baseball, Hott points out.
    Hott became impressed with summer ball while visiting his uncle, a coach in Spartanburg, S.C. There. 7-on-7 passing leagues are popular.
    “People complain about how WVU doesn’t recruit our in-state football players, but to be honest with you, our kids don’t get to play enough football to become Division I players in the first place,” Hott said.
    Summer ball wouldn’t be impossible here, since the SSAC remains neutral on it. “We don’t tell kids that they can’t do anything,” the SSAC’s Carter said. “We just keep the coaches out of it. So if they want to have passing leagues in the summer — as long as they don’t use school equipment, and as long as they don’t use the school name — we don’t have any opposition to that.”
    RCB coach Richard Iaquinta is skeptical. “Your really good receivers are usually your basketball players, and they’re playing basketball in the summer ... and a lot are playing baseball,” Iaquinta said.
But Hott believes athletes wouldn’t even have to choose between sports. His uncle, for example, was careful to schedule around Legion and Babe Ruth games, Hott said.
    Summer football would, though, be one more addition to a crowded summer schedule. “We already take away their month of August,” West said. “The kids need to spend some time with their families, do some other things in the summer.” Like     West, Grafton’s Skinner also believes in giving kids “time to enjoy being kids.”
    Still, he might conceivably favor summer passing leagues, but it would depend on the structure of those leagues.
“If they have a summer passing league and one of the coaches is coordinating it, then fine,”  Skinner said. “But if you get parents involved, then you’re beholding to them. And I’m not willing to do that.
     Winning player support probably would be easy at first. Elkins senior quarterback Nathan Fields, for instance, said he would have liked the chance to play spring or summer ball —even though his specialty is track.
    “I think there’d be a lot of competition,” said Fields, who has  won a track scholarship at Wisconsin. “If you’re willing enough, if you want to play football, if you really like football, you’ll play it.”
    Fields’ teammate, Mike Simon, said spring or summer ball would be great for kids who only play football. “It’d give them a chance to play football all year round, instead of sitting around doing nothing,” Simon said.
    But after the novelty of spring or summer football is gone, what then? “Already, a lot of schools are  having problems getting kids out,” West said. “The numbers are down from year ago. That should tell you something. “Spring or summer ball certainly wouldn’t improve that any.”
    And Buckhannon-Upshur coach Don Swisher points out a major stumbling block to spring or  summer ball programs headed by school coaches: “Unless they were willing to pay some money, I don’t think it would be fair,” he said. “There are advantages to it,” Swisher said. “But again, there are conflicts.”


Fairmont, Wesleyan football teams finding
depth in spring drills
by Matt Harvey
SPORTS EDITOR
    Fairmont State coach Doug Sams, with 68 players returning, and West Virginia Wesleyan’s Bill Struble, with 54 players back, are using spring football drills to fine-tune their players’ craft. Fairmont State’s Sams has back numbers in quality as well as quantity, with 16 starters returning.
    A key player in 1999 will be former Liberty star Bryan Harman. Harman, a sophomore, will move up from backup quarterback to starter following the departure of Mike Hockenberry.
    Sams is confident in Harman, who last season played important minutes against West Liberty, West Virginia State and West Virginia Wesleyan. “We had a good situation last year,” Sams said. “We had a fifth-year senior in Hockenberry who really played well. And we were able to bring Bryan off the bench to get some valuable  experience. By the end of the year, he was playing well. He’s got that spark.”
    Harman can improve some in running Fairmont State’s no-huddle offense and in reading defenses, Sams said.
But FSC’s coaches will be careful not to overcoach Harman, because they consider him a “natural quarterback” with great instincts, Sams said.
    Fairmont State also will try to “shore up” its secondary this spring and “find one more receiver we can play with,” Sams said. Wesleyan also is replacing its quarterback.
    Coach Bill Struble plans to go with Mike Davis, a fifth-year senior. Davis is comfortable with directing Wesleyan’s running attack, and is coming along nicely in learning the passing game, Struble said.
I    n fact, the progression with Davis in spring has matched that of last year’s starter, Scott Gasper, Struble said.
“He’s been involved so long with our program, our system,” Struble said. “He’s doing a good job picking things up.”
Another question mark is at inside linebacker, but Struble has moved fullback Kelvin Young to that spot.
    Wesleyan appears solid on the offensive and defensive lines, Struble said. And the secondary “could be  as good as we’ve ever had here,” he said.


Beasley returns to WVU
to spread his knowledge
by Dan Shrensky
CORRESPONDENT
    MORGANTOWN — Aaron Beasley’s doing a little teaching and a little learning at West Virginia University this spring.
Beasley, the Mountaineers’ former All-America cornerback now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, is taking undergraduate classes at WVU while working as a volunteer secondary coach.
    “I wanted to give back,” said Beasley. “West Virginia has given so much to me — starting with the opportunity to play college football — that I wanted to help out if I could, spread my knowledge to these guys.”
    Beasley, a senior captain in 1995, was a teammate of cornerback Perlo Bastien and safety Gary Thompkins, who were both true freshmen then. He is impressed with the talent in the  WVU secondary.
    “They’ve got the same natural ability as me. The difference is mental, knowing where you’re supposed to be, reading situations,” he said. “But these guys will work hard. I think they’ll be key to the whole team next year.”

    QUOTES OF THE WEEK: Punter Zach Anglin, when asked if he considered lending a hand at wideout, a position he played at Bridgeport High: “I don’t think there’s much demand for a 6-foot, 185-pound receiver who runs a 5.5 (40-yard dash).”
    Quarterback Marc Bulger, when asked about giving the defense credit after they stifled the offense in Friday’s scrimmage:
“I don’t need to toot their horn. They do it enough.”

    TRADITION:Rush linebacker Mark Thurston looks to continue the pass-rushing legacy of Canute Curtis and Gary Stills.
But Thurston, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound sophomore, is in the mold of neither player.
He doesn’t have Stills’ quickness and is bigger and more powerful than Curtis, who holds WVU’s career sack record with 34 1/2.
    “The other day Coach Nehlen told me that Canute, as a sophomore or freshman, wasn’t even close to as strong as me,” said Thurston.  “He wasn’t as big as me. I take that as a positive.”
    Thurston, who says he bench- presses 450 pounds, wasn’t always a tower of strength, though. As a freshman, he said he was about the same size as some of the Mountaineers’ receivers. “We didn’t like to lift too much in high school,” he said.



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