By TONY VIOLA
WHEELING - It's a difficult feat to be named First Team All-State in any sport.
Most players never earn the honor. Then again, the laurel shouldn't go to just any player.
It's for the players that go beyond what they're expected to do. It's for those who put the extra time in at practice and those who believe there is never such a thing as an offseason.
That was the mark of the athletes who earned the honor of being named to the West Virginia Class AAA First Team All-State baseball squad, selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
From the 10 seniors who made the cut to the lone sophomore, these players put their blood, sweat and tears into the game, and this is their reward.
Six players have earned the honor twice, starting with Cabell Midland's Seth Kinker, who was selected as captain after his outstanding senior campaign.
Kinker, the Mountain State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, posted a 9-3 record to go with a 0.33 ERA and 117 Ks for the Knights. In a little more than 84 innings pitched, he walked only 19 batters. He also hit at a .361 clip and drove in 28 runs.
Other repeat selections are seniors Joey Mundy of Huntington, Jimmy Galusky of Preston and Shane Ennis of Hampshire. Two juniors also earned back-to-back honors in Logan's Zach Minnick and J.T. Rogoszewski of state champion Hurricane.
Mundy (.480, 5 home runs, 35 RBI) and Galusky (.554, 53 RBI, 51 hits) claimed two infield spots, while Brooke senior Heath Hildreth (.495, 34 RBI, 16 doubles) and Winfield senior Brandon Wright (.444, 48 hits, 38 runs) filled out the rest.
Ennis (.345, 26 RBI) returned as an outfielder and was joined by Wheeling Park junior Michael Grove (.475, 25 RBI) and George Washington senior Austin Griffith (.381, 38 RBI).
The four utility spots went to Minnick (.473, 34 RBI, 7 home runs), Rogoszewski (.405, 23 RBI, 1.81 ERA), Greenbrier East sophomore Jonathon Carr (.492, 2.17 ERA) and Riverside senior Cam Norris (.382, 102 Ks, 1.36 ERA).
Cabell Midland junior Brady Elkins (.327, 16 RBI, 26 pickoffs) rounded out the underclassman as he was named the squad's catcher.
Joining Kinner at pitcher was Washington senior Jared Silva (.431, 19 RBI, back-to-back no hitters) and Huntington senior Stephen Holland (.420, 0.24 ERA, 32 RBI).
Cabell Midland and Huntington landed more than one player on the first team list.
Senior Travis Renner of University was named captain of the second team. He was joined at utility by Hurricane junior Trey Dawson, Woodrow Wilson senior Logan Wriston and Cabell Midland senior Cody Ballengee.
Three seniors - Hurricane's Austin Hensley, Oak Hill's Chris Hysell and Elkins' Colby Gainer - were selected as second team pitchers, while Hedgesville senior Tyler Anders was tabbed as catcher.
The second team outfield was made up of Shady Spring senior Jordan Meadows, Huntington junior Andrew Zban and George Washington junior John Thomas.
Two Jefferson players were selected to the second team infield in junior Andrew King and sophomore Paul Witt. They were joined by Nitro senior Dylan Slack and Ripley sophomore Chris Jordan.