CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Herbert Hoover leadoff batter Corey Bird bluffs a steal, it affects the psyche of opposing pitchers, which most would agree is better than the actual steal.
That's not the only skill the Marshall University recruit has that makes him the Daily Mail's 2013 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year.
However, that is one of the most important the left-hander brings to the table for the Huskies. Especially when he's in the pitcher's line of sight.
"I think it's a huge distraction," said Bird, whose Huskies (29-4) face Independence (19-8) at approximately 7 p.m. in the Class AA semifinals Thursday at Appalachian Power Park. "I think my presence gets into the head of the pitcher. I think he has to rush to the plate, which can disrupt the pitch count and make him throw a bunch of balls."
Bird is a repeat pick for the All-Kanawha Valley first team and is one of only seven seniors on the 14-member roster. He's also the first non-Class AAA player to win the Player of the Year award since the Daily Mail combined the All-Kanawha and All-Putnam county teams beginning in 2006.
The coach of the year is Poca's Gene Estel, who guided the Dots to a 23-9 season - within four games of the single-season school record for wins - before losing in the sectionals to Sissonville. Running a close second was St. Albans' Rick Whitman, whose Red Dragons reached the sectional finals before falling to Logan.
The rest of the outfield is made up of George Washington's John Thomas, who moved to Charleston from Florida and stepped into the role of utility outfielder and leadoff hitter for the Patriots, and Charleston Catholic's Rocco Wilcox, a senior center fielder for the Irish, helping them reach the State Tournament for the third consecutive year. Wilcox is also a repeat first-team selection.
The catcher is South Charleston senior and leadoff hitter Jonathan Cline, a West Virginia State recruit who spearheaded the Black Eagles' sectional championship defensively and at the plate.
The infield consists of Capital junior Justin Palmer, a star on a young team. St. Albans senior Joey Dodrill, who missed most of the season on the mound but did enough offensively to help the overachieving Red Dragons reach the sectional championship. Poca's Cam Cottrill, the Kanawha Valley Freshman of the Year in 2011, joins the infield as the best player on a team that came four wins shy tying a 42-year-old school record.
Hurricane's J.T. Rogoszewski rounds out the infielders. The sophomore had a breakout year as a 10th grader, hitting .368 and becoming the Redskins' best pitcher down the stretch.
The utility positions are taken by Poca's Jake Payne, a junior and the Dots' ace pitcher; Sissonville senior Zach Null, a left-handed shortstop and the Indians' ace; Hurricane senior Riley Metz, a repeat first-team member whose batting average dropped as a senior, but who was a key member of the Redskins' pitching staff; and Winfield sophomore Josh Bumgarner, who led the Generals to their second consecutive regional championship at second base and on the mound after not playing baseball as a sophomore and junior.