Wheeling Central’s Avery Lee, Tyler Consolidated’s Tyler West Named Class A Baseball First Team All-State
Murray, Slider, Scott earn spots on Class A all-state squad second team
CHARLESTON — After being used as a pinch runner in the state title game his freshman year, Wheeling Central sophomore infielder Avery Lee made his presence felt this year.
He set the tone at the top of the Central lineup and was a rock on defense at the shortstop position.
Lee’s growth throughout the year and productive campaign on the field has earned him first team all-state in Class A as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
He batted .354 with an on-base percentage of .476 and drove in 20 runs in the leadoff spot for the Maroon Knights.
He turned in two triples, including a three-bagger to kickoff the state semifinal game in Charleston and led the team with 37 hits, 36 runs, one home run, 14 stolen bases, 22 walks and seven doubles.
“Last year we brought him up at the end because he played jayvee,” Wheeling Central coach Bo McConnaughy said. “I saw the potential in him right there.
“He is starting to show signs of leadership and he is a great kid. I think he’s going to be a helluva player.”
The first team outfield is led by Tyler Consolidated senior Tyler West, who compiled a .583 average with three home runs and 25 RBI.
Lee’s teammate, junior Adam Murray (pitcher), along with Paden City senior Trey Slider (pitcher) and Cameron infielder and OVAC 1A Player of the Year Trin Scott were selected to the all-state second team.
Huntington St. Joseph Central baseball coach Dave Jenkins was faced with a tall task this spring.
His Irish only had 11 players on the roster but for Jenkins, it was quality over quantity.
Together, the small group stormed its way to the state baseball tournament — turning heads along the way.
The journey did not go unnoticed as several players earned postseason accolades — none bigger than junior Lenny Washington.
Washington was named the captain of the all-state first team in Class A — his third straight appearance on the first team.
“Lenny is a phenomenal kid,” Jenkins said. “It’s a once and a lifetime experience to coach and be around a kid like that. He’s gotten better maturity-wise. I can’t say enough about him.
“I’ve had coaches call me and see him practice and they think he is a JUCO kid. He is a diamond in the rough talent and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get drafted right out of high school.”
Washington posted a 2.32 ERA with a 7-3 record and 80 strikeouts this season, but there was one performance that stood out from the rest.
“On the mound, we played Fairland. He threw a perfect game in five innings and only threw 58 pitches and 49 of them were strikes,” Jenkins said. “It was 85 degrees and when it’s above 70 degrees, he is a different animal.
“At the plate, he hit a ball at Dawson-Bryant this year that probably traveled well over 400 feet. The ball just sounds different when it comes off his bat. I can’t explain it.”
Along with Washington’s remarkable season, his teammate — junior pitcher Hunter Eplin — also collected first team honors.
Eplin finished the campaign with a 1.93 ERA, an 8-2 mark and brought a .410 batting average to the dish.
“Our saving grace to having 11 kids was that we had six solid pitchers,” Jenkins said. “Eplin was right there with Lenny. I was holding (Eplin) for the championship because Lenny was our big horse that got us here but (Moorefield) just put the bat on the ball.”
Senior J.T. Hensley of Sherman makes his second appearance on the first team with a microscopic 0.97 ERA, a 10-2 record and an eye-popping 159 strikeouts.
Moorefield’s Isaac Van Meter (.344 BA., 1 HR, 26 RBI) rounds out the first team pitchers.
Joining Lee on the first team infield are Charleston Catholic junior Thomas Blaydes (.527 BA, 46 RBI; 5-3, 49 K), Parkersburg Catholic senior Ty Sturm (.432 BA, 4 triples, 28 RBI) and Ritchie County junior Zach Knight.
Senior Jacob Hoyt of St. Marys is the first team catcher with an impressive .473 batting average, 31 RBI and 13 doubles.
First team utility spots belong to Charleston Catholic junior Marshall Pile (9-1, 79 K; .513 BA), Williamstown senior Cullen Cutright (10-6, 1.55 ERA, 85K) and Moorefield senior Blake Watts (.354 BA, 1 HR, 30 RBI).
Notre Dame junior Sam Romano and Summers County senior Sam Wykle fill the other outfield spots.
The second team in Class A is led by senior captain and outfielder Tank Smith of Buffalo. Charleston Catholic junior Parker Ross and Wahama senior David Hendrick earned the other outfield positions.
St. Marys senior Jack Hadley is the final pitcher on the second team.
Seniors Noah Beter (Huntington St. Joe), Nate Hanshew (Midland Trail) and Jordan Dempsey (Faytetteville) round out the infield.
Senior Eric Williams of Tolsia is the second team catcher, while seniors Tim Thorn (Pendleton County), Elias Gordon (Notre Dame), junior Patrick Copen (Parkersburg Catholic) and sophomore Hayden Baldwin (Moorefield) round out the utility spots.