New Martinsville Post 28 Gaining Experience
Post 28 adds pitching depth
WHEELING — The talent was there but lack of depth and untimely vacations hurt the New Martinsville Post 28 baseball team in its first year as a program.
After a season of learning the ropes, Post 28 manager Eric McKeever is excited for his team’s chance to leave its mark.
“We learned a lot last year,” McKeever said. “We needed a lot more pitching depth. We lost about seven games by one run because we didn’t have the depth. That hurt us in the Area One Tournament against Wheeling.
“I think we learned about the level of competition, too. It took us awhile but we got used to it. We were close last year. We competed but just couldn’t finish. I honestly feel like we should be in contention.
“We also have to make sure everybody takes their vacations before the Area One Tournament.”
The pitching depth has improved over the offseason as Post 28 added Keaton Cushman (P, C, Util), Eric Illar (P, Inf) and Brandon Fox (P, Inf) to its roster.
Cushman, a two-time state champion on the wrestling mat, moved to the area from Idaho, while Fox and Illar of St. Marys will lace up the cleats for McKeever and company, as well.
“We have quite a bit of pitchers this year,” McKeever said. “But Cushman is actually one of the better catchers I’ve seen in awhile.
“Illar is headed to play at West Virginia State as a pitcher and shortstop and Fox will be a senior at St. Marys. He can pitch and play second or third.”
Along with the key additions, New Martinsville still has the outstanding arms of Jake Gamble (P, Inf, OF), Trey Slider (P, 2B), Tyler West (P, 3B, OF)and Matt Saxon (P, Inf, OF) coming back.
West, who earned first team all-state honors this past spring for Tyler Consolidated, will also play third and outfield for Post 28.
“West stroked the ball pretty well throughout the season last year,” McKeever said. “He can play everywhere for us and he pitches.”
Slider turned in 108 strikeouts this spring for coach Brent Croasmun’s Paden City Wildcats and collected second team all-state honors, while teammate Matt Saxon fired 98 punchouts.
“Trey is one of the better pitchers around,” McKeever said. “Matt Saxon is one of the better athletes around and Gamble came on strong for Magnolia this year.
“We have some choices on the mound but most of them are infielders so we can move them around.”
Playing both infield positions and contributing on the hill will be Magnolia’s Brendan Mirandy (P, 2B, OF) and Caden Cisar (Inf, P), Tyler Consolidated’s Weston Henderson (2B, P) and Dylan Seckman (P, 1B) and Valley grad Ethan Greathouse (P, SS, 2B).
“Ethan Greathouse has really improved,” McKeever said. “He’s at-least 4 or 5 MPH faster than he was last year,”
Magnolia’s Silas McKeever will pitch and spend a majority of the time in the outfield, while teammate Caleb Starkey can pitch, catch and play outfield.
Magnolia duo Austin Scheibelhood and Jason Beisel round out the outfielders.
“Beisel played last year for us and can really track down the baseball in the outfield,” Coach McKeever said. “He is a pure athlete.”
Other infielders include Magnolia’s Eli Miller (3B, SS) and Drake Kocher (2B) and Valley’s Abe Satterfield (SS, 3B), while Alec Chaplin of Paden City and Logan Bassett of Valley will each see time at third and behind the plate.
“Most of these kids are coming back this year,” Coach McKeever said. “If we play fundamental baseball and with the right lineup, I think we can compete with state champion Parkersburg.”