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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 richstev...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.