Postseason play for Class AA Region 3 baseball never seems to be short on drama.
Once again it appears to be a time to fire up the hot dogs and grab your popcorn for what could be a wild and whacky ride through the postseason tournaments.
Shady Spring has been the dominant team across the region this year with two wins over Section 2 foes Independence, Nicholas County and Liberty.
The Tigers also have a pair of wins over PikeView who is the top-seed in Section 1 this year.
Shady Spring head coach Jordan Meadows feels like his team is playing some of its best baseball heading into the postseason.
“We battled with Winfield this past week and beat PikeView which is a regional team,” Meadows said. “I told the guys all year that our goal was to beat Independence, Liberty and Nicholas County.”
Beating the three sectional foes locked up the No. 1 seed in Section 2 for the Tigers which comes with home field advantage. However, the postseason this year will be a role reversal for Shady who made the state tournament last year upsetting No. 1 seed Independence with two wins in Coal City.
“We went undefeated against (the sectional foes) to earn the one-seed. In my coaching career this is the first time being the one-seed,” Meadows said. “It’s good going in being the one-seed and having home field advantage. This group of seniors has worked hard. Most of them started for three years, so they are ready to go. We will see what happens.”
Cam Manns has been a postseason beast on the mound and heads up a solid staff for Shady that includes Colten Tate, Tyler Reed and Jacob Meadows.
Meadows has been the surprise of the staff for Shady and has been a valuable weapon down the stretch.
“He was probably our four or five on the pitching list at the beginning of the year,” Meadows said about his younger brother. “When the beach (trip) came around, we played a double-A prep school and he just shut them down. We played Oak Hill here and he shut them down. So we just kept giving him a chance.”
Hitting in the lead-off position, Meadows has also been the catalyst for the Tigers hitting a team-high .423 with 30 hits and 33 runs scored.
Manns checks in at .405 and has 32 hits and 23 RBI, while Parker Brown hits .328 with a team-high 28 RBIs.
“Tate has about eight or nine RBI this week. Cam is hitting a little over .400 and Adam (Richmond) almost hit one out the other day,” Meadows said. “All of the seniors are really putting it in play and making stuff happen.”
Reed and Richmond are also hitting north of the .300 mark.
Meadows also talked about how making the state tournament last year has been a motivator this season.
“It definitely helped the older guys because all they think about is getting back to Charleston to play at Power Park, now Go-Mart Park. That is all they want to do,” Meadows said. “Now being in the driver’s I have told them we have to stay within ourselves and defend our sectional and regional titles.”
Shady Spring will host No. 4 seed Liberty in the sectional opener Tuesday.
The youth-filled Raiders have had a tough season in the win column, but junior Landon Hall has had a strong season in Glen Daniel. Over 21 games, Hall has a .490 batting average with a .597 on base percentage.
Aiden Scarbrough, Colton Tolliver and Isaac Williams are also hitting over .300 for Liberty.
Nicholas County has been strong at the plate this year led by Grayson Kesterson who is hitting a eye-popping .517 with 45 hits, 10 going for extra bases.
Alex Pritt is hitting .456 and leads the Grizzlies with 23 RBI, while Caleb Burns checks in at .385, driving in 21 runs.
Lucas Milam (.333), Ira Mylott (.324), Cole Brown (.325) and senior Andrew Triplett (.356) give Nicholas County threats all through the line-up.
Independence head coach Scott Cuthbert knew it would take some time for his team to gel this year after replacing several senior starters lost to graduation.
The Patriots appear to peaking just at the right time.
Clay Basham (.419), Cole Cunningham (.400) and J.D. Monroe (.389) all have 28-plus hits, while Cunningham leads the team with 27 RBI. Basham has scored 37 times in 23 games.
Pitching could be the advantage for the Patriots who have several arms at their disposal in the postseason.
Cunningham is 5-0 with a 2.33 ERA, while Basham is 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Basham is also coming off a perfect game against PikeView last Thursday.
Monroe, Brayden Kiblinger and Levi Barnette have also provided quality innings for the Patriots.
Independence will travel to Nicholas County Tuesday in game one of sectional play.
Bluefield is the No. 2 seed in Section 2 behind PikeView, followed by No. 3 seed Wyoming East and No. 4 Westside.
This section may be as predictable as the weather in West Virginia. All four teams have looked very good at times, while leaving their coaches scratching their heads other times.
The Panthers jumped out of the gate to an 11-4 record, but have struggled some since the early part of April going 7-10 over the final portion of the season.
Zach Rose leads the Panthers hitting .443 with 43 hits and 26 RBI. Nate Riffe hits .321 and has 35 hits with a team-high 27 RBI. Samuel Lyle (.316) has been a 30-30 guy in hits and RBI and has two home runs.
Riffe has been the workhorse on the hill pitching 77.1 innings this year. He was 7-2 this year with a 1.63 ERA and had 102 strikeouts.
Bluefield had a slow start due to a deep state tournament run by the basketball team along with some injuries along the way.
However, the defending sectional champions are clearly up to the challenge of defending their crown.
Bryson Redmond has been slowed in the field by an injury this year, but still leads the team at the plate with a .439 batting average and a .529 on base percentage.
Hunter Harmon (.424) has provided the heaviest stick for the Beavers with 17 of his 28 hits going for extra bases including four round-trippers. The big hitting right-hander has 32 RBI on the year.
David Rockness (.397) and Caleb Fuller (.387) lead the team with 29 hits apiece. Fuller has scored a team-high 30 times and Rockness has crossed the dish 28 times.
Harmon, Rockness and Fuller have been the stalwarts on the hill for Bluefield as well.
A rocky start for Wyoming East has looked more promising as the regular season came to a close. The Warriors enter the season winners of seven of their last nine games.
Senior Jacob Howard (.424) has been red-hot of late and ended the season with 28 hits. Ten of the hits were doubles with six more clearing the fence for a home run.
Fellow senior Brady Biggs is hitting .44 with 21 hits and 17 RBI, while senior Shawn Mosely (.339) also has 21 hits and 14 RBI.
A trio of youngsters have added more spark East down the stretch.
Sophomore Zach Hunt (.384) has 28 hits and 21 RBI. Freshman Miken Smyth (.368) has 28 hits and 11 rbi and fellow-freshman Michael Johnson has knocked in 16 runs.
Sophomore Kaiden Vance has been the bright spot for Westside hitting .333 with 21 hits and 15 RBI.
Section 2 opens play Monday with Westside traveling to PikeView and Wyoming East going to Bluefield.