CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Beckley baseball Coach Mark Daniel tries to stay progressive with his team, but anybody who recognizes his style might be a bit surprised during Friday's Class AAA State Tournament semifinal meeting with Cabell Midland (22-10) at approximately 7:30 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park.
"We'll probably do a few things different if we have the opportunity on Friday," Daniel said.
Somewhat buried in the back of a basketball school is the baseball program, but its history is notable since Daniel took over in 2001.
Daniel's program is making its fourth State Tournament appearance in 13 seasons, and while its record is just 1-3 in those games, getting through its "underrated region" is an accomplishment.
Princeton won the state title last season as a Region 3 representative, Beckley (20-10) played in the finals in 2007 and South Charleston won the championship in 2006.
"Our region has always done pretty well in our state," Daniel said. "I think it's an underrated region. It seems like it's somebody different the last three or four years. The teams are getting better."
Enter the 2013 Flying Eagles, whose coach hasn't decided whether to throw junior Josh Rakes - a surprise pick in the Region 3 semifinal against Princeton - or senior ace Hunter Greco, who blanked Riverside in the regional title game, in Friday's semifinals.
In his third season as coach, Daniel decided to bypass his ace - junior Shawn Yeargo - in favor of sophomore Chip Hedrick. Fairmont Senior beat Hedrick 4-0.
Ten years later, Daniel faces another dilemma, but admitted it's all about matchups.
"Rakes was a better matchup against Princeton and Greco was a better matchup with Riverside," said Daniel, whose team beat the Tigers 2-1 in the regional semifinal and the Warriors 7-1 in the final. "Greco was a better matchup with Riverside to be honest. It'll be Rakes or Greco."
Greco has a 6-2 record with a 1.47 earned run average and 59 strikeouts in 472/3 innings. Rakes is 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 532/3 innings.
For Cabell Midland's part, the Knights come from Region 4 - which added Logan this season and already was considered the state's strongest baseball area of the state.