The Cardinal Conference is known for its fine athletic tradition.
That extends to the baseball diamond as well.
Both Chapmanville Regional coach Josh Rakes and Logan coach Kevin Gertz expect the conference to be especially strong again this year.
“The Cardinal Conference is going to be strong all the way across the board,” Rakes said. “It works into the sectional play as well in that it’s a lot of the same teams. There’s a lot of good competition in the league. There will be a lot of good baseball to be played.”
Rakes said he expects Scott, Logan, Nitro and Winfield to be among the best teams in the conference along with his Tigers.
“Scott has a lot of kids coming back. Logan is always going to be competitive,” Rakes said. “Nitro plays well. Winfield should have some guys back. There’s nothing ever easy in the Cardinal and nothing ever easy in the sectional. We’ve got our work cut out for us but we’re ready for the challenge.”
Scott returns pitcher and WVU recruit Carter Lyles.
Lyles, a senior right-hander, already owns a complete game one-hitter this season as the Skyhawks beat county rival Sherman 17-0.
Lyles was a threat on the hill and at the plate last season for Scott. As a pitcher, Lyles went 6-3 with a 2.57 ERA with 56 strikeouts over 52 innings. As a hitter, Lyles’ power numbers stand out as he hit .366 with 6 home runs and 35 RBIs and he had five doubles and scored 20 runs with a slugging percentage of .690.
Scott had a 19-10 record last season and was ranked No. 7 in Class AA in the final ratings.
Scott is off to an 8-1 start as the Skyhawks blanked Logan 5-0 on Wednesday in Madison.
“On our side, Chapmanville is always strong,” Gertz said. “But Scott is probably the front-runner in our conference. They were one of the top two or three teams in it last year. They return nearly everybody. Carter is tough. Wayne lost a boat load and they are not nearly as strong. Winfield is always very strong. Poca is very impressive to me and they are playing some really good ball right now. Hoover and Nitro are both always good. If I had to pick, Nitro might be the strongest team on that side of the conference.”
Across the region, Gertz says Point Pleasant is very good.
“In the region, Point Pleasant might be the very best team,” he said.
Chapmanville and Logan will once again join Man, Scott, Lincoln County and Mingo Central in the six-team Class AA Region 4 Section 2.
Logan won last year’s sectional title game with a 7-5 victory over the Tigers. Lincoln County routed Chapmanville 13-3 on Wednesday night at Hamlin.
“Lincoln County is going to be very strong this year,” Gertz said. “I think Man will be as good as anyone when they start hitting.”
Wayne is coming off last year’s regional championship and state runner-up finish. However, the Pioneers are likely headed to a down year. Wayne is off to an 0-6 start to the season.
The Pioneers have been shut out three times and have been outscored 82-10 through six games.
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at [email protected].