GLENVILLE - Hard work and dedication to a sport doesn't always return the dividends an individual or a team would like.
Such hasn't been the case this spring for the Gilmer County baseball program. The Titans are just a win away today from playing for the Class A state championship at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park.
Joe Frashure, now in his 13th year at the helm of the program, has watched his squad post a 25-10 record and he feels his team is ready for the task at hand starting at 4:30 p.m. today against a known opponent in Notre Dame, which has won 11 straight and sports a 26-6 mark.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
The Gilmer County High School baseball team, which plays in today’s Class A state tournament, features seven starting seniors. Pictured, from left, are Seth Skinner, Adam Beall, Colton Rose, Austin Cunningham, Nathan Allison, Luke Beall and Stephen Coleman.
Prior to this state semifinal, which the Titans are expected to start Adam Beall (8-4, 1.29 ERA, 70.2 IP, 100 K), the two programs have met twice. Beall won the early season meeting 3-1 at Notre Dame, but the Irish crushed GCHS in Glenville, 15-2, on the return trip.
"You know what it's going to take to beat them and you have to play well to beat them," Frashure said of Notre Dame, which led 6-2 going into the top of the seventh at Glenville before scoring nine runs.
"We know we've got our hands full. They are very talented. We've had battles with them about four years straight. We're excited about the opportunity and looking forward to the challenge."
Setting the table for the Titans is third baseman Austin Ratliff, who played center field earlier in the year. Ratliff (.362 AVG) had driven in 21 runs and leads the team with 28 stolen bases in 29 attempts.
Catcher Austin Cunningham (.377 AVG, 33 RBIs) is the usual fixture in the two hole and then center fielder Nathan Allison, who leads the team in average (.478), RBIs (40), home runs (3), doubles (12), on-base percentage (.512) and slugging (.696) bats third.
"He's been our most consistent guy all year," Frashure said of Allison, who is followed by first baseman Luke Beall (.369 AVG, 38 RBIs) at cleanup.
Right fielder Seth Skinner (.337 AVG) is expected to bat fifth and then Adam Beall, who the coach said "has been tremendous down the stretch and won both our regional games" hits sixth with a .310 average.
The bottom third of the lineup consists of shortstop Colton Rose (.326 AVG), designated hitter Matt Montgomery (.272 AVG) and left fielder Stephen Coleman (.244 AVG). Cole Haley is the Titans' second baseman.
"It's so tuff to get to Charleston," added Frashure, who led the Titans to the 2001 Class A state title, which also marks the last appearance for Gilmer County in the Final Four.
"I think it's a great field with four really quality teams and I think about anybody could win it. Right now, we're just trying to take care of Notre Dame and hopefully we go play well."
Today's early semifinal winner will face the victor of today's other single-A contest that features fellow Little Kanawha Conference member St. Marys (29-2) taking on Man (19-11).