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Dunbar named Player of the Year PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012 11:27

nCHARLESTON, W.Va. - In June 2010 at Brandon Matthew Sneed Field, Nitro High School star pitcher J.R. Bradley received a pie in the face from teammates during an informal press conference following his second-round selection by Arizona in the Major League First-Year Player Draft.

Bradley was named the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley Player of the Year that season, followed by his drafting and the West Virginia Sports Writers Association Player of the Year award.

Two years later, the attention turns to catcher and pitcher Korey Dunbar - another Wildcat in a long line of decorated players from Coach Steve Pritchard's program.

Dunbar is this year's 2012 KV Player of the Year, with an impressive pitching resume that set him apart from St. Albans shortstop Dylan Ramsey in the closest race for the honor in recent years.

"I wish it would've gone to (Dylan), just because he's a great kid," said Dunbar, who will lead his team into the Class AAA State Tournament semifinals at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday against Fairmont Senior at Appalachian Power Park. "I hit with him on the weekends over the winter. He deserves it. To me, he's the player of the year."

The other top Daily Mail honors went to Winfield's Will Isaacs for Coach of the Year and Poca's Noah Frampton for Freshman of the Year. This makes the second consecutive year the Dots have had the area's top ninth-grader.

However, Nitro has dominated the Player of the Year honor for the last decade.

Since 2002 - Pritchard's first season at Nitro - the Wildcats have had the Kanawha County or Kanawha Valley Player of the Year six times. Drew McClanahan (2003) and Cody Smarr (2005) were named Kanawha County's top players, while Chase Pickering (2008), Matt Frazer (2009), Bradley (2010) and Dunbar (2012) claimed the Kanawha Valley honor encompassing 13 schools in Kanawha and Putnam counties. Hurricane's Tyler Payne broke up the string of consecutive Nitro winners last year.

Nitro's No. 3 hitter is batting .462 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 34 RBI.

There seems to be no doubt Dunbar will be picked in the Draft on June 4. Where he's taken will determine the affable star's decision to go pro, or accept his scholarship to the University of North Carolina and take up residency in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I'm happy with what North Carolina has offered me and the big thing is, if I don't get what I want in the Draft, I'm still going to North Carolina," Dunbar said. "I love those guys down there. I just couldn't ask for anything more.

"Besides, if anybody would tell me how high I would go they would be lying to me and lying to anyone. If there was a certain system on how to do everything, it would be easy and it's not."

He certainly is the top catcher in the two-county area, but also among the best pitchers, versatility that makes him a true candidate for a utility spot.

In 15 appearances and 53 innings, Dunbar has a 4-2 record with a 0.79 ERA with 86 strikeouts and only 17 walks.

George Washington's Alex Levitan holds down the catcher's spot, the only position he plays and one at which he excelled following Tommy John surgery that wiped out his junior campaign.

He batted .490 with nine home runs and 39 RBI. He struck out only 12 times and walked 28 times. Teammate Joe Wong, who flirted with the state's single-season home run record early in the season, claimed an infield spot after hitting 13 home runs and batting .350.

The rest of the infield is made up of Ramsey, the KV's top shortstop and who had a memorable season, batting .505 with 17 doubles and 25 RBI; Riverside senior second baseman Doug Prather, who batted .427 with eight doubles and 17 walks. He also stole 22 bases for the Warriors, who reached the regional championship game before falling 3-1 to Princeton. Hurricane senior Riley Metz rounds out the infielders after hitting .390 with 20 RBI.

The outfield features three centerfielders who have shown the ability to track down any fly ball in the gaps, including Winfield's Barrett Arnold. The senior finished with a .365 average and 24 stolen bases and can cover the outfield from gap to gap.

South Charleston's Rease Ripley, also a senior, had a superb season despite the Black Eagles' struggles. He batted .425 with 35 stolen bases and flashed the Kanawha Valley's best outfield arm.

Hoover fielder Corey Bird caps the outfielders. He had 36 stolen bases - giving the three outfielders a combined 95 swipes this season. He batted .491 in leading the Huskies to the State Tournament.

The utility spots are taken up by Dunbar, St. Albans senior Josh Kiser - who played third base and pitched; Capital's Taylor Fisher who batted .400 while playing multiple positions, and Charleston Catholic's Rocco Wilcox, who batted .475 and walked 27 times.

The KV wasn't blessed with dominant pitching, but two stood out - Hurricane senior Drew Lawrence and Winfield junior Mason Dillon.

Lawrence finished 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 661/3 innings. Dillon, a left-hander, was 9-1 with a 1.60 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 74 innings and outdueled Lawrence in a memorable sectional game at Winfield won by the Generals.

* * *

FRESHMAN of the Year Noah Frampton from Poca had a better season as a ninth-grader than teammate Cam Cottrill - who won the award last year.

Other players considered for the honor were Hurricane's Trey Dawson and Tate Brock, George Washington's Clayton Anderson and Garrett Vogelbach, Nitro's Kip Brewer and Sissonville's J.R. Stricklen.

Frampton batted .414 with 15 doubles and 26 RBI. As a pitcher, he was 8-3 with a 1.99 earned run average and 58 strikeouts in 522/3 innings.

* * *

COACH of the Year came down to the postseason. Despite a regional championship game loss to Nitro and Coach Steve Pritchard - another candidate for coach of the year honors - Winfield endured countless hardships to get one game from the State Tournament for the first time as a Class AAA school.

Isaacs juggled his lineup to deal with the loss of senior star Dusty Kincaid, junior Zach Strong and, in the regional, senior standout Barrett Arnold.

The Generals won two extra-inning games to upset Hurricane in sectional play and defeated Huntington by one run in the Region 4 semifinal before falling to Nitro 3-1 in nine innings in the regional championship game.

"Our kids competed and battled to the end and you can't help but be proud about how your kids react to those types of situations," said Isaacs, who is 37-63 in one year at Winfield and two seasons (2003, '03) at Poca.

The 2012 season featured multiple Kanawha Valley coaches doing their best work.

Other coaches considered were Riverside's Chris Hawkins, whose Warriors went 8-15 in 2011 and rebounded to reach the Region 3 championship game last week; and Poca's Gene Estel, who guided the Dots to their first 20-win season since 2004.

Pritchard, who replaced eight starters and is playing in the State Tournament this week was also in the hunt for top coaching honors, as were Charleston Catholic's Bill Mehle, whose team enters the Class A State Tournament as among the favorites, Herbert Hoover's Brian Young, whose Huskies returned to the State Tournament for the first time since the year before he became coach and Brian Sutphin, whose youthful Redskins were on top of the Kanawha Valley for most of the season.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 11:49

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