High school baseball season will shift into high gear this week with many of the immediate area teams opening their respective seasons.
Philip Barbour and Pendleton County are scheduled to take to the field today with the Colts visiting Petersburg and the Wildcats traveling to Bath County (Va.).
Tygarts Valley will travel to Clay-Battelle on Wednesday, while Elkins hosts Grafton and Pocahontas County visits Pendleton County Thursday. Tucker County begins its season on Friday at Tygarts Valley.
Elkins returns seven seniors from last season's 26-8 team as Adam Roth takes over the coaching duties from Ted Williams.
The Tigers are led by senior left fielder Lance VanNoy, who led the team in batting a year ago. Also returning is utility players Scott Fox and Heath Broughton. Fox and Broughton will be the teams No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers.
Cody Gainer and James Gainers will also see time on the mound and the infield, while second basemen Ryne Bonnell, third basemen Mike Elza return to their respective starting positions.
First baseman Caten Murphy will also return with varsity experience.
Senior Mike Lewis will be the teams' catcher with Brennan Dettinger also playing behind the plate.
Caten Murphy, Houston Schuler, Clayton Collett and Riley Lloyd will all look to battle for varsity playing time.
"Things are starting to come together," said Roth. "The kids have worked really hard and are wanting to get this season started. We return strong pitching and hopefully the hitting will be there as well."
Philip Barbour returns the majority of its team from last year's 17-12 squad.
Third basemen Seth Howdershelt, shortstop Tyler Rogers, first basemen Seth Fitzwater, first basemen Parker Kines, catchers Trevor Zacavish, infielder Doug Smith, outfielders Andy Green, Tyler Schiefelbein, Trevor Mouser and Daniel Martin are all back for the 2011 campaign.
The Colts also return Rogers, Mouser, Tyler Schiefelbein, Green, Fitzwater to the mound.
"I am very happy with what we have back," said Philip Barbour coach Stan Fitzwater. "We have a good group of pitchers and we have some solid hitters back."
Newcomers Dre Johnson and Quentin Mouser will look to contribute.
Skilled players highlight the list of returners to this year's Tygarts Valley baseball team
The Bulldogs, who finished last year with a 10-15-1 record, return senior pitcher/infielder Christian Scott, senior catcher Richie Rosencrance, junior infielder J.D. Brown, sophomore pitcher/infielder Brandon Pritt, pitcher/infielder Jeremy Lambert and sophomore infielder Mark Parrack.
Freshmen Keighan Chewing will see time at a utility spot, while outfielder Dylan Warren and infielders Ben Engelkemier, Owen Arbogast and Ryan Murphy will look to battle for playing time.
"We return a lot of seniors from last year's team which helps," said Markley. "I think we should be a lot better once we get outside and start playing."
Pocahontas County will look to bounce back from last year's 8-22 season.
The Warriors, who lost in the regional semifinals last year, return just one senior in first basemen Logan Plumley.
Also back with varsity experience will be shortstop Steve Halterman, center fielder/pitcher Dalton Walker, infielder Dillon Hovorka and right fielder/pitcher Garret Clark.
Freshmen West Felton and Brandon Hammons will look to contribute right away for the Warriors.
"We're hoping to be a lot better then last year," said Pocahontas County coach Mike DiPasquale. "Everyone will get a lot of playing time this year and with the kids. We should have a good hitting team and some decent pitching."
Pocahontas County made it's first-ever state tournament appearance in 2009.
Pendleton County will look to make some noise in Class A this season with a crop of talented players returning from last year's 18-13 team.
The Wildcats, who lost in the regional semifinals to East Hardy last year, will be led by first-team All-State selection Tyler Gardiner, who will be the teams' No. 1 starting pitcher and shortstop.
Also returning with experience will be pitcher/outfielder Trevor Sites, outfielder/pitcher Trent Moats, third basemen Brandon Glover and second basemen Dustin Redman.
Outfielders Micah Bailey, Daniel Hevener and Logan Raines will all look to contribute at the varsity level.
"We have a good group of athletes this year," said Yokum. "I am hoping they can put their skills on the field and prove they can have a good year."
Tucker County will look to turn things around from last season's 8-12 team with the return of four starters for new head coach Rick Bodkin.
Bodkin replaces former coach Kevin White, who stepped down after last year's season.
Senior center fielder/pitcher Tucker Murphy, infielder/pitcher Matthew Patrick, short stop/pitcher Brian Quattro and first basemen Brandyn Hamrick are all back to their starting positions.
"We are going to need our starters to step and help lead our team," said Bodkin. "They are going to have to play well defensively and hit the ball."
Newcomers Cody Cousins, Scott Cross, Dylan Canfield, Zach Evans, Issac Moore, Kevin McDermortt, Tim Rosier, Travis Harper and Nick Akins will look to compete for playing time.
"We have a lot of younger guys that will see a lot of time." said Bodkin. "Hopefully we can get it all together before the season starts and have a good year."