McConnaughy Takes Over at Central
By KYLE LUTZ
WHEELING — New Wheeling Central baseball coach Bo McConnaughy knows a thing or two about the sport. He was at the helm for 30 years at West Liberty, posting 580 wins including six conference championships. He takes over at Wheeling Central a year after the Maroon Knights had a impressive run at a state championship, only to fall in the title game.
Although he is inheriting a successful program, McConnaughy knows that it’s going to take a lot more patience in coaching at the high school level.
“The difference is skill level,” McConnaughy said. “Usually when they got to me at the college level, they already experienced a lot of baseball and went through a lot of fundamental stuff with their coaches and learned to play the ga5
me a bit. When they got to me, I just fined tuned that. With these guys, most of them are in the preliminary stages. It’s more teaching and I’ve learned I have to be a little more patient with them because they haven’t exactly excelled at that level yet.”
The Maroon Knights graduated a talented seven seniors from last year’s squad including Matthew Gruber, Brian Campbell, Gino Peroni, Anthony Gentile, Nate Foster, Brian Shaw and Kevin Keane.
However, there is a majority of talent coming back including Isaac Rine, a first team all-stater last year. Rine is one of seven seniors on the team this year and he will be back behind the plate.
Rine led the team in three categories last year in batting average, on base percentage and runs scored.
“He hit close to .500,” McConnaughy said about Rine. “He’s had a good career and is an excellent catcher. If you’re going to be a good baseball team, you have to be strong up the middle and that starts with the catcher, shortstop, second base and center fielder. Then you build around those guys”
The other Maroon Knights seniors are Tyler Riedel, who posted a solid season last year on the mound going 5-1 during the regular season and a 1.20 ERA, Alec Jochum, Austin Crebs (a transfer from Wheeling Park), Clayton McCabe, Brayden Carter and Zach McAbee.
Riedel will also see some time in the outfield. Crebs will be put in the starting pitching rotation and when not on the mound looks to be the starting shortstop.
The juniors are Pat Brown, George Cupp, Bryan Courts, Chris Costain, Chris Furka, Luke Lawrence, Devon Stradwick, Mike Hall, Isaac Basinger, Paul Denard and Caleb Custer. Stradwick looks to be in center field when Riedel is on the mound.
The sophomores include Kyle Newmeyer, Angelo Gentile, Clay Slyder and Dominic Mills.
Brown and Slyder are in a position battle for second base according to McConnaughy.
Enzio Figaretti, Adam Murray, Mavric Hitchcock, Jacob Rine, Dominic Pompeo, Josh Custer, Thomas Minor, Sonny Peluchette, Hayden Manns and Charlie Rose are the freshmen.
Bo is assisted by Jeremy McConnaughy, Jason Rowe, Jake Fullerton, Willie Clegg, Ron Zavolta and Mike Zavolta.
“They’re adjusting to my style of play and of course they’re adjusting to me and I’m adjusting to them,” McConnaughy said. “We’re both learning about each other and at this point and time things are starting to come together and we’re starting to see a lot of progress. It was a learning process for both them and me.”
As the season starts to open up the team has some extra emotion and motivation to play to the best of their ability. The Maroon Knights will be dedicating themselves to play as hard as they can for former coach Jamey Conlin. Conlin was the Maroon Knights’ coach the past two years and died this fall following a second battle with cancer.
March 21: Oak Glen 5 p.m.
March 23: Madonna 5:30 p.m.
March 24: at Weir 5 p.m.
March 25: B.Donahue (2) 4 p.m.
March 27: at Linsly 5 p.m.
March 28: Bellaire 5 p.m.
March 30: at John Marshll 5 p.m.
April 3: Cameron 6 p.m.
April 5: at Magnolia 5 p.m.
April 6: Toronto 5:30 p.m.
*April 7-8: at Catholic Tourney TBA
April 10-13: at Myrtle Beach TBA
April 17: Linsly 5 p.m.
April 18: John Marshall 5 p.m.
April 19: at Steub.Catholic 5 p.m.
April 20: at Madonna 7 p.m.
April 21: at Cameron 5 p.m.
April 22: OVAC TBA
April 24: at Oak Glen 5 p.m.
April 25: Shadyside 5 p.m.
April 26: at St. Clairsville 5 p.m.
April 27: Weir 6 p.m.
April 28: OVAC Championship TBA
May1: St. Clairsville 5 p.m.
May 2: Steubenville Catholic 6 p.m.
May 4: Magnolia 5:30 p.m.
* at Bridgeport, W.Va.