The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.


March 19, 2014

Greyhounds looking to get over state baseball tournament hump

The story remains the same for Valley, which is both good and bad.

On the good side, the Greyhounds remain one of the best teams in Class A baseball, advancing to the state tournament last season for the third straight year. The bad news: Valley is still looking for its first-ever tournament win.

“We talked about that after practice today,” Valley coach Joe Craffey said Monday. “I told them as good as it is to get that far three years in a row, it still leaves a sour taste in your mouth. We have knocked on the door three times and have gotten knocked back three times. At some point you would like to advance to the championship game and see what you can do.”

The Greyhounds, 23-8 a year ago, will have to overcome the loss of some talented players, including first-team all-state pitcher Arik McGinnis, now pitching for WVU Tech. Also gone are catcher Cody Winter, second baseman Drew Jones and outfielders Mark Hess and Todd Coleman.

But there is also plenty of talent still patrolling the diamond behind the Smithers school. Leading the way is senior outfielder Raeshawn Breckenridge.

“He will do a good job out there for us,” Craffey said.

Craffey is pleased with his outfield rotation, which will include a mix of upperclassmen such as Donte Wilkerson and younger players such as Josh Naylor and Kyler Smith.

The pitching staff will again be strong for the ’Hounds, even with the loss of McGinnis.

All eyes will be on sophomore right-hander Druw Bowen, projected as the No. 3 player in West Virginia’s Class of 2016. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, although he was no surprise to his coaches and teammates.

“He had a good season, there’s no doubt about it,” Craffey said. “We counted on him from the get-go. He was no surprise to us. We knew how hard he works. He had a good season. Will that (automatically) translate into another good season? No, and he realizes that. He works hard and will do what he has to do to get ready.”

Joining Bowen in the rotation are left-handed senior Joseph Eckert and senior John Riddle. Eckert pitched last year but was limited after taking a comebacker off his hand. Riddle will primarily be the starting catcher but will also be counted to pitch, as will Breckenridge.

The makeup of the defense will largely depend on who is pitching, but look for Ethan Lopetrone at third base, Bowen at shortstop and Eckert at first. Riddle and Oak Hill transfer Damaria Davis will also see time.

Senior catcher/first baseman Casey Stewart is back after taking last year off.

Many of the baseball players also are on the basketball team that will play Charleston Catholic in the first round of the state tournament at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Despite that, Craffey expects his team to play its 5 p.m. season opener Monday at home against Cross Lanes Christian because those players have gotten in the required number of practices.

“We are lucky to have kids that are dedicated to all sports,” Craffey said. “Joey (McCoy, the head basketball coach) and John (McGinnis, the assistant for both sports) have been good about it.”

Also next week, Valley is slated to visit Buffalo Tuesday, host Midland Trail at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and entertain Nicholas County at 5 p.m. on Friday.

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The Greyhound softball team is slated to host Fayetteville at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, followed by road contests at Sherman (March 27) and Cross Lanes Christian (March 29, 2 p.m.). The Greyhounds entertain Oak Hill at 5:30 p.m. on March 31.

Coaches or athletic directors can submit spring schedules to or via fax at 304-469-4105.

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.


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