Prep baseball: Poca to honor state troopers
Poca High School assistant baseball coach J.R. Collins considered it a perfect opportunity.
In the eyes of the coaching staff at Poca, Friday's ceremony to honor two fallen state troopers is a chance to show law enforcement that "we appreciate the service" they provide on a daily basis.
An hour before Friday's 6:30 p.m. first pitch against Putnam County foe Buffalo, state troopers Eric Workman and Marshall Bailey will be honored on the field at Poca High School.
"We wanted to show that our baseball family appreciates the service that those two troopers have given and current law enforcement officers currently do," Collins said. "This is America's pastime, we think it's the greatest game in the world, this is just a good opportunity."
West Virginia State Trooper Eric Workman spent four years as a star baseball player at West Virginia State University.
When he finished in 2009, the former Clay County High School standout was the West Virginia Conference Player of the Year and second-team NCAA Division II All-American.
State Police Corporal Marshall Bailey was a star basketball player for Poca, from where he graduated in 1988. He averaged more than 11 points during his senior season.
Both were shot during a traffic stop last August. Bailey died at the scene and Workman died two days later.
"That night back in August affected me and it makes you realize that people take these police officers for granted," said Poca assistant Travis Justice.
"You don't realize that when they leave the house, they might not be coming home.
It gave everybody a reality check. We wanted to do something to show they're appreciated and to honor the memory of Corporal Bailey and Trooper Workman."
Justice came up with the idea, and shared it with Collins and volunteer assistant Jeremy Yost - a Kanawha County sheriff deputy - during a visit to Fat Patty's in Teays Valley.
Local law enforcement is asked to attend in uniform to share in the memorial for Workman and Bailey. At 6 p.m., the teams will be lined up along the baselines and the uniformed officers will take the field.
Corporal Bailey's family will be in attendance and his children will throw out the first pitch. Putnam County Sheriff Steve DeWeese will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of Workman.
First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. and the Bailey and Workman families will receive the balls used in the first pitch as well as jerseys signed by the team.
Additionally, Friday's opponent, Buffalo, includes assistant coach Seth Ramsey, who was Workman's best friend.
"Baseball is a tight-knit group at every level, so you become a family," Collins said. "We wanted to show our baseball family appreciates the service that those two troopers have given and current law enforcement officers currently do. America's pastime, we think it's the greatest game in the world, good opportunity, let the kids be involved in it, give the kids a memory they'll have forever."
Half of the proceeds from the gate and concessions will go to the scholarship fund in their names.
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THE MINGO BAY Classic, a baseball tournament in South Carolina, will feature 21 schools from West Virginia.
One it doesn't include is Poca, which will spend at least part of spring break week - April 1-5 - in central West Virginia, playing baseball, fishing and kayaking.
"We were going to take them south or to Cincinnati to play some Ohio and Kentucky teams and go to a couple Reds games," Justice said. "We asked the seniors and they opted for Elkins."
Coach Gene Estel's family owns a camp in that area. The Dots are scheduled to play at Grafton on April 4 before an April 6 doubleheader against Bridgeport.
"We left it up to them," Justice said. "I was a little surprised."
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SPEAKING OF the Mingo Bay Classic, the event includes five Kanawha County schools and two Putnam County schools.
Capital, Charleston Catholic, George Washington, St. Albans and South Charleston are participating from Kanawha County, while Buffalo and Hurricane are participating from Putnam County.
Also included is defending Class AAA champion Princeton, as well as Logan and Sherman.
The tournament begins on Tuesday and continues through Saturday.
The schedule is set through Thursday with those results determining the schedule for the weekend.
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GEORGE WASHINGTON sophomore Jeff Wong is off to a torrid start during the Patriots' 5-0 beginning of the season.
Wong is batting .600 with a team-leading 12 RBI and has one of the Patriots' three home runs.
Wong hit his homer over the newly constructed 24-foot fence in left field.
The fence was named Robert Wong Wall in honor of Jeff Wong's father, who passed away last year.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.