Prep baseball: Riverside looks like contender for State Tournament
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Riverside High School baseball team has three players hitting higher than .300, highlighting its need to get help from other than the batters box.
Enter junior pitcher Cameron Norris.
The combination of Norris and ace Tyler Hall make Riverside a legitimate contender for a spot in the State Tournament, no matter that the Warriors have a 12-15 won-loss record entering the Class AAA Region 3 semifinal on May 20. Riverside will visit the winner of Thursday's George Washington-South Charleston Section 3 final.
"He's finding his groove right now," Riverside Coach Chris Hawkins said of Norris. "I asked him, 'What do you think you're doing wrong?' He said, 'I'm trying to do too much.'"
In Friday's Section 4 game against Ripley, Norris pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout, striking out 11 batters with only two walks in a 4-0 Riverside victory.
Norris had a 12-strikeout game earlier this season, but surrendered three earned runs in a 6-3 victory over Winfield.
His earned run average was an above-average 7.29 entering Saturday's sectional game, but dropped to 6.00 after shutting down the Vikings for seven innings.
Offensively, Norris has hit safely in four consecutive games and 10 of the last 11 with nine RBI during that time. His batting average dipped to .196, but has since risen to .324.
"He has all the ability in the world and has kind of put this team on his back the last two weeks," Hawkins said.
As for Hall, he has been Riverside's rock since surrendering six earned runs in his third start on March 29 against Nitro.
Since then, he has a 2.02 earned run average in starts against Brighton (N.Y.), Capital (twice), Hurricane, Cabell Midland, Winfield and South Charleston.
He is expected to take the mound in the regional semifinal. In his only meeting with the Black Eagles, Hall didn't get a decision, pitching four innings and giving up two earned runs in a 7-2 South Charleston win. Hall hasn't face George Washington.
Norris, meanwhile, hasn't face South Charleston. However, he gave up a season-high nine earned runs in 51/3 innings in an April 12 meeting with GW.
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THE BELOW-NORMAL rainfall during the early spring caught up to the state in time for sectionals.
Additionally, this week's three-day statewide moratorium on extracurricular activities for administering of Westest forces some postseason tournaments to wait until Thursday.
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POCA'S SEASON ended, what many believe, prematurely.
"We didn't do what we needed to do ... and that's that," Poca Coach Gene Estel said immediately following his team's elimination.
However, the Dots were four games from tying the school record for victories and have made steady progress since Gene Estel took over head coaching duties in 2009.
Poca will lose three players to graduation: catcher Evan McClanahan, first baseman David Taylor and pitcher Ryan Leighton.
The Dots bring back Daily Mail sophomores of the year Cam Cottrill (2011) and Noah Frampton (2012), as well as pitcher and shortstop Jake Payne and third baseman Matt Chandler.
"We've improved year in and year out and if you can take anything positive out of it, that's it," Estel said. "But, it doesn't make it sting any less."
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NITRO'S RUN of six consecutive Region 4 titles came to a screeching halt with Section 2 losses to St. Albans and Logan.
The last time Region 4 was represented in the State Tournament by a team other than Nitro was 2006 when Cabell Midland reached the state title game.
The Wildcats had just one player hit higher than .350 with junior Ryan McDonough, who batted .409.
"It's almost like the Nitro uncoachables," Nitro Coach Steve Pritchard said, his frustration evident after a 4-1 sectional loss to St. Albans. "They know everything, but nothing positive happens when they play their game.
"The only thing I can say is, we're going to play the guys who listen to coach and that's the bottom line."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.