Photos by Tina Laney
The run to the Class AA Region 3, Section 2 championship title by Shady Spring caught some fans by surprise.
However, if you paid attention, the signs of success were there all along.
As the postseason approached the Tigers were clearly playing their best baseball of the season.
Two players that stood out over the final weeks of the season were senior Josh Lovell and junior Tyler Mackey.
Thanks to their stellar play, both players were named Lootpress Baseball Player of the Week. Lovell earned the honor in week six, while Mackey picked up the award in week seven.
The Lootpress Player of the Week Award is sponsored by Bodyworks and The Law Offices of Brandon Steele.
In week six, Lovell was 12-of-18 at the plate with a home run, two doubles and six RBI. On the mound, Lovell fired a one-hit shutout against Liberty on Senior Night.
“Josh is definitely the most consistent hitter we have had all year. His approach at the plate is great,” Shady Spring head coach Jordan Meadows said. “Even when he has two strikes, you just know he is going to put the ball in play one way or another. As the three-hole hitter, I know when we have guys on base that we are going to score some runs.”
For Lovell, who hit two grand slams late in the season, the secret to his success has been keyed by his mental approach to the game this year.
“I think my mindset has been the biggest thing for me. I have been going up to the plate recently, having fun and enjoying my senior year. I never know when it might end. Covid really showed me that. I go out there and play each day like it is my last game,” Lovell said. “I do this for the boys every single day. They hype me up and I really appreciate winning an award like this. It is nice to be recognized.”
Every successful baseball team has a high energy guy and Mackey puts out enough energy to make the Energizer bunny tired.
“We have said all year that he has the smartest baseball IQ on the team without a doubt. Here lately he has been all over the place for us,” Meadows said. “Early in the year we had him hitting ninth, but we put him in the two-hole and it has really been working for us.”
In week seven, Mackey went 8-for-14 at the plate, while hitting two home runs and two doubles.
“It is great to win an award like this, but our work is not done by any means,” Mackey said. “Our team goal is a state championship. I think we are all ready to achieve that goal.”
Late in the season, Mackey has been in the zone that every hitter dreams about, but he also knows Shady’s success has been tied to a solid team effort.
“The ball has looked like a beach ball lately. I have been seeing it real well,” Mackey said. “It has been awesome and I am really looking forward to keeping that going. I know I have eight other people that can do that too. If all nine of us play together, it is really hard to beat us.”
Caden Cook (Wyoming East), Andy Lester (Independence), Dale Boone (Greenbrier West) and Hunter Harmon (Bluefield) were also nominated in week six.
The week seven nominees included Chase McClung (Greenbrier West), Clay Basham (Independence), Jacob Howard (Wyoming East), Danny Dickenson (Woodrow Wilson), Kaiden Vance (Westside) and Kerry Collins (Bluefield).