|Wildcats will lean on youth|
Prep baseball preview: Wildcats will lean on youth
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some thought the Nitro High School baseball team reached the State Tournament last year through the use of smoke and mirrors.
This year, Coach Steve Pritchard said, "we're going to try to camouflage with pitching."
Leading the Wildcats will be seniors Korey Dunbar and Ryan McDonough.
Last season Dunbar, who signed to play his college baseball at the University of North Carolina, batted. 533 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI.
He also pitched in the State Tournament, going 61/3 innings in the Wildcats' 13-7 loss.
McDonough meanwhile, batted .319 with 18 RBI.
The leadership is there, but the complementary players might be limited.
Also, Nitro doesn't have sophomore Solomon Shamblin, who started at shortstop last year. He had back surgery and might not return this season. Centerfielder Dylan Ramsey, an integral part of Nitro's success last year, is not on the team this season.
"Last year we knew what we had to prepare for ... Cabell Midland, that was our target," said Pritchard, who coach Nitro to Class AAA state titles in 2008 and 2010. "This year, we don't know who we're going to beat."
The veteran coach will lean on two freshman for help as well. Kip Brewer, who Pritchard said has been coming around the field since he was 7 or 8 years old, will start in right field.
Hunter Pritt, the other key ninth grader, is a "real, strong, lanky kid," Pritchard said. "He's had some arm problems, but we're going to use him as a utility player."
Pritchard expects the offensive production to dip again as coaches and players get a better grasp on which bats are legal and which are illegal.
The BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) bat standard -measures the "trampoline" effect when the bat hits the ball.
This year, the National Federation of High Schools requires that all bats be BBCOR certified. The NCAA required the use of BBCOR certified bats last year, which had a profound effect, Pritchard said.
Nitro opens the season at 2 p.m. Saturday against Sissonville at Brandon Matthew Sneed Field.
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