CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Princeton doesn't want to be thought of as the team that won a state title, then faded into the sunset.
The loss of nine seniors from the 2012 championship team makes that a real possibility, and a real challenge for fourth-year Coach Josh Wilburn.
The Tigers (15-9) begin their best-of-three Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 series at home against Greenbrier East (13-8) on Tuesday. Coach Eric Morgan's Spartans were Region 3 champions in 2011.
"The biggest thing is, and my assistant coach talked about developing a style of play," Wilburn said. "Even looking at the talent pool in Princeton and saying, 'These are the kind of kids we want to keep,' compared to what Princeton used to have and molding a certain program that kids can buy into.
"We definitely have the kids there, the numbers are there. We've had winning seasons for four years, so it's not getting complacent and being happy where we are."
The only regular back for Princeton is Chris Otey, a utility player who is batting .385 with only seven strikeouts in 84 plate appearances. Senior Bo Williams is the team's leading pitcher with a 6-1 record, 1.68 earned run average and 71 strikeouts in 50 innings.
That's a far cry from a team with nine seniors that won its six postseason games by an average score of almost seven runs (8.3-1.5).
"You battle, we lost a lot, we're young. Kids come in with high expectations and we come in with high expectations," Wilburn said. "First sign of adversity, well, you lost nine seniors. We try not to let the kids use that as an excuse.
"The biggest thing this year is making them believe they're still a good baseball team and that it isn't going to be an easy road. Here we are, defending state champions, but we still have to go out and play, nothing is going to be handed to us."
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SETH KINKER knows all about Cabell Midland's ups and downs this season, which makes winning the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship that much sweeter.
The Knights begin the Region 4, Section 4 tournament today at Huntington. Kinker is expected to get the start.