Heleine named top baseball Player of the Year

HEDGESVILLE – There are many parts to Daniel Heleine of Class AAA state baseball champion Hedgesville.

Heleine’s 16 home runs this season provided him with a touch from the Ruthian era.

The first baseman’s ability to carry a tune spotted him as also a bygone Mitch Miller. He served as the team’s choral director on bus trips to games, and his teammates “sang along” with him during their rides.

Heleine found his inner-Sybil, another ages-old personna, to create a character he used to inspire his teammates during their run through the postseason, too. He developed an alter-ego he used to address his teammates before games during the playoffs.

Today, the senior adds one more part to his personal equation by being named as the state’s Baseball Player of the Year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Slugger, singer, actor and winner all provided the makeup of Heleine. He was a man of many caps for the Eagles.

It proved to be a winning combination for Hedgesville, a school playing in the state tournament for the first time in 39 years. The previous time came in 1974 as a Class A school in the one-class state playoffs for baseball.

He sent the Eagles over the wall as Hedgesville breaks up somewhat to form Berkeley County’s new Spring Mills, which opens in August. Some of his Eagle teammates will be Cardinals in the future.

There’s the most important aspect to Heleine, too that of leader, a guy who kind of came out of left field, so to speak, and did whatever he felt was necessary to loosen the pressure on his teammates during their historic run.

“Leaders get players to play at their peak,” said coach Dirk Webb, an alumnus of Hedgesville in his third year at the helm of the Eagles. “Some do it by yelling, some do it by work ethic. Daniel’s one of those guys who was able to keep everybody loose and allowed them to play at the top of their game.”

Heleine claimed a narrow win for the Player of the Year honor over Seth Kinker of Cabell Midland, which fell to Hedgesville 4-2 in the state title game.

Others finalists for the honor included Fletcher Devaul of Fairmont Senior, Drew D’Angelo of Independence, Corey Bird of Herbert Hoover and Kyle Elliott of Magnolia.

“It’s awesome,” Heleine said of the award.

Heleine experienced a season to remember as Hedgesville finished with a 29-7 record and won its first state title in baseball. The Eagles won their last 11 games.

The Player of the Year award is an added bonus for Heleine.

“I’d say the state championship (was the best),” Heleine said, “because it was a team effort. I didn’t really perform down there very much. If the team wasn’t there, the things that followed wouldn’t have happened.”

Heleine failed to get a hit in Hedgesville’s final two games played at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park.

He batted .478 for the season, adding single-season school records for home runs and runs-batted-in with 57.