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Prep baseball: New fence will challenge GW opponents

The George Washington High School baseball team will have its own version of Fenway Park's Green Monster.

As high school baseball teams around the state begin practice today for the season set to begin March 13, the Patriots and their opponents will find home runs harder to come by at the South Hills ballpark.

A 24-foot fence was erected last fall at Floyd B. Wilcox Field, extending from the foul pole above the 270-feet sign in left to center field.

During the Patriots' home opener at noon on March 16 against Scott, the wall will be dedicated to Robert Wong. The chef at the Bridge Road Bistro and father of GW sophomore Jeff Wong, died on May 29.

A burgundy windscreen will cover the fence with white letters that read, "Robert Wong Memorial Wall."

Coach Chad Campbell, who is entering his eighth season guiding the Patriots, said he wouldn't have it any other way.

"We've always wanted to get this fence put up," Campbell said. "It was going to happen, but we thought it would be a good way to honor is memory. Robert was always in discussions on getting the fence put up."

The Patriots also plan a memoriam for Jody Clay - the mother of former George Washington player Derek May - who passed away on May 17, 2011.

On April 19-20, George Washington will host the Jody Clay Memorial Classic, which will include Charleston Catholic, George Washington, Logan and Bridgeport.

On Friday, April 19, George Washington and Charleston Catholic will play. On the following day, GW will face Bridgeport at 11a.m., Logan plays Bridgeport at approximately 1:30 p.m. and Logan will face Charleston Catholic at approximately 4 p.m.

Also, the concession stand will be named in Clay's honor.

"From when Derek was in little league, she was always the team mom growing up," Campbell said. "She took care of so much stuff for me, concessions, everything. She was there to do whatever needed to be done.

"The last couple years we've been hit with two parents of players passing away and it's been hard on the program," he said. "We thought this would be a good way to start out of the year, honoring these parents who helped the program and show them we care."

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EXPECTATIONS will likely skyrocket for Charleston Catholic.

The Irish returns all but one of its regulars, including two pitchers that combined for an 18-5 record and four batters who hit higher than .350.

"This year we have a core group of seniors that have been to the State Tournament two times and finished runner-up as sophomores," Coach Bill Mehle said. "They know what it takes to win challenging games in the postseason."

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CLASS AA State Tournament runner-up Herbert Hoover will begin today with arguably the Kanawha Valley's best player - Corey Bird - as well as one of its top pitchers in Tristan Fields.

The Huskies dropped a 1-0 decision to Wyoming East in the 2012 Class AA state title game.

Bird is coming off a season during which he batted .491, struck out only once and was one of the Valley's best defensive centerfielders.

Also in Class AA, Sissonville will try to rebound from a disappointing 11-21 season.

The Indians leaned heavily on left-handed shortstop Zach Null, who batted .371 for Coach Kenny Harper's team in 2012.

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POCA HAS the distinction of having the Kanawha Valley's last two freshmen of the year - Cam Cottrill in 2011 and Noah Frampton last season. Also, pitcher Jake Payne will be the team's ace and has the Valley's lowest earned run average (1.51) among returning pitchers.


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