CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As a 13-year-old boy, Eric Workman couldn't always hit the baseball where he wanted.
That didn't stop the Clay County teenager from returning to a West Virginia State University baseball camp the next year, remembers State coach Cal Bailey.
"Once he realized the importance of being more well-rounded, he really blossomed as an athlete," Bailey said Wednesday in a phone interview.
The young man grew into a star high school athlete and arguably the best baseball player State has ever seen.
On Wednesday no one was thinking about what Workman, now 26 and a West Virginia State Trooper, had accomplished while wearing a baseball uniform.
Workman was shot in the head Tuesday night following a routine traffic stop. Cpl. Marshall Bailey also was shot by Luke Baber, who fired on both men from the back seat of a patrol car as they sat in the front. Marshall died from his wounds.
Workman was on life support and in a coma at Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital as of Wednesday afternoon, said Col. Jay Smithers, head of the state police.
He was still in critical condition late Wednesday, according to a phone operator at the hospital.
Workman entered the law enforcement training program in January 2011. Cal Bailey said he had the chance to speak with several other troopers when he attended Workman's graduation from the program.
"They all thought he was going to be a number-one type of trooper," said Bailey, who went to CAMC Tuesday night.
He led by example at State right from the start, Bailey said.
Another player's injury let Workman crack the starting lineup as a freshman, and he never left the field again.
Where other players might have dreaded simple practice routines like shagging fly balls, Bailey said Workman always gave everything he could.
"He was as close as you could get to an ideal player in practice and games," the coach said.
A quiet, goal-oriented young man, Bailey said Workman's determination to improve paid off. Workman was recognized multiple times regionally and nationally for his accomplishments, according to the State athletic department.
He tops the school's record books for most games played, runs scored, hits, doubles and triples. He ranks in the top 10 in another 32 categories.
His senior year, Workman had a .458 batting average with 11 home runs while achieving a 2.39 earned run average and 7-1 record as a pitcher.
"What kept him from getting drafted was scouts couldn't make up their mind if he was a better outfielder or pitcher," Bailey said, adding that Workman was probably the best defensive outfielder in school history.
But it wasn't all baseball, all the time for Workman.
Bailey said Workman couldn't attend a tryout for multiple professional baseball teams because he was already on his way to Canada for a fishing trip.
In addition to hunting and fishing, Bailey said Workman enjoyed rock climbing.
Bob Looney, a native of Amma and creator of the "Amma Bama" fishing lure, said Workman was a talented fisherman. The two worked with the Department of Natural Resources to record information about the Muskie species of fish, Looney said.
The DNR would tag fish to learn how far they had traveled or other details, and the men would note that information whenever they caught such a fish.
Looney and Workman hit if off right away.
"Even if you met him on a bad day, he was a good guy," Looney said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Acquaintances realized Workman was a trooper and had a hard side, Looney said. But his buddy always listened and asked pertinent questions.
"Eric was a respectful guy, he was a nice guy, and he was my friend," Looney said.
He was a pretty popular guy when he attended Clay County High School, said Kelly Duffield.
Duffield, who now works as a counselor at the school, graduated with Workman in 2004. Although they weren't close, she said everyone knew him.
"He was a quiet but well-liked person," Duffield said.
He was a member of the homecoming court a few times during high school, and everyone knew he was a great athlete, she said.
Principal Melinda Isaacs said she knew Workman because he provided security for some school events. She said teachers were talking about Workman Wednesday.
One described him as "a man before he graduated from high school" because of the way he conducted himself, Isaacs said.
Duffield said she spoke with Workman recently when they ran into one another at a gas station in Clay County.
She said Workman enjoyed his job but was hoping to transfer to Clay County. He was stationed in Calhoun County but was temporarily working from Clay County, said a state police official.
Clay County is small enough that its people know each other, Duffield said. Workman has one sister, his father drives a bus for the county school system, and his mother is in public service.
The shooting has the community shaken, she said.
Looney did not know Workman had been involved in the shooting until being contacted by a reporter. He said he was going to call the hospital and start a prayer chain in the community.
"Maybe he'll pull through," Looney said. "We'll be hoping and praying."