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Prep baseball: Hoover star Bird named Class AA All-State captain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Herbert Hoover High School's Corey Bird left his mark on the state high school baseball tournament the last two seasons, playing in four games and ending his varsity career with a Class AA state title.

The centerfielder and pitcher, who is headed to Marshall University, said individual awards are secondary to team awards.

Nevertheless, he caps his decorated Hoover legacy by repeating as captain of the Class AA All-State first team as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

He said it didn't get any better than winning a state championship, but being the captain of the All-State team for the second consecutive season isn't bad either.

"That's pretty big, but winning championships ... that's we strive for and we did it," said Bird, who batted .467 with a double, six stolen bases, five runs and four RBI in the four State Tournament games. "It's still pretty cool."

In four seasons, Bird played in 120 games - four in the State Tournament as a junior and senior - with a .457 career average, 184 runs, 25 doubles, 10 triples, 79 walks, 119 stolen bases, 100 RBI and only 16 strikeouts. Bird had 55 stolen bases in 35 games this season. The state record for steals is owned by Wahama's Mike Lewis, who stole 80 bases in 56 games in 1974 during the era of unlimited scheduling.

Lewis averaged 1.43 stolen bases per game. In 35 games in 2013, Bird averaged 1.57 steals a contest.

Helping Bird's cause this season was as a pitcher, where he had a 5-1 record and a 1.17 earned run average in only 30 innings with 49 strikeouts and nine walks.

He picked up the win in Hoover's state championship victory over Fairmont Senior.

Joining Bird in the outfield is Sissonville senior Zach Null, who was a left-handed center fielder, shortstop and pitcher for the Indians and batted .489 with 28 RBI and 10 doubles. Null was a second-team selection as a junior. The first team's other outfielder is Liberty (Raleigh) senior Joey Lacek. Lacek batted .515 with 12 doubles, 42 RBI and 41 runs.

The pitching staff includes Hoover junior Tristan Fields, who has the distinction of starting both State Tournament games for the state champion yet not receiving a decision. In his third season for the Huskies, he finished 7-1 with a 2.21 earned run average with 74 strikeouts in 57 innings.

Fairmont Senior senior Andrew Strand, the Polar Bears' starter in the Class AA title game against Hoover, was named to the first-team staff. He didn't receive a decision in his team's 7-5 title-game defeat, preserving his 6-0 record with 56 strikeouts in 43 innings and a 1.79 ERA in the Polar Bears' first season as a Class AA program. PikeView senior Kevin Cottle rounds out the pitching staff. Cottle, whose team came up one game short of a State Tournament spot, had a 9-2 record with a 2.39 ERA and 86 strikeouts entering the Class AA Region 3 championship game.

Strand has a pair of teammates on the first team in senior infielder Fletcher Devaul and senior utility player Matt Robbins. Devaul was the starting shortstop for the Polar Bears, batting .511 with 26 RBI, eight doubles and only four strikeouts. Robbins played every position in his four seasons, according to Coach Steve Naternicola. In 2013, he batted .391 with 39 runs, 21 RBI and 17 stolen bases. As a pitcher, he was 5-2 with 65 strikeouts, 12 walks and a 1.79 ERA in 43 innings. Robbins was a first-team pick as a Class AAA utility player in 2012.

Joining Devaul on the infield is the Independence middle of shortstop Wyatt Adkins and second baseman Drew D'Angelo. Adkins batted .386 with 10 doubles with 40 runs and 30 RBI. He combined with D'Angelo for 19 double plays this season. D'Angelo batted .524 with 20 doubles and 54 runs.

Robert C. Byrd's Colton Bonnett, a second-team utility player as a sophomore in 2012 when his team was Class AAA, earned first-team Class AA honors on the infield this season. Bonnett batted .467 with 22 RBI and 32 stolen bases as a shortstop. Bonnett also committed only 11 errors in 29 games.

Fairmont Senior's Robbins was one of four utility players on the 15-member first team. Other players chosen for utility spots were Oak Glen junior Vincent Haddox, Ritchie County senior D.J. Burgess and Bridgeport senior Troy Anderson.

Haddox had a 5-4 record with a 2.02 earned run average and 84 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. He also batted .526 with 31 RBI and four home runs.

Burgess batted .471 with three home runs and 41 RBI. He also had a 5-3 record and two saves with a 1.83 ERA. He pitched 46 innings and struck out 40 batters.

Anderson batted .355 with 47 RBI and 10 doubles for the Class AA semifinalist Indians. He started at pitcher in the State Tournament semifinal against Fairmont Senior.

The first-team catcher is Wyoming East's Zack Whitten. A member of Wyoming East's 2012 Class AA state title team, Whitten batted .544 as a senior with 35 RBI and 26 stolen bases.


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