Mountain 7 District Baseball Preview | Sports News
The bad news for AHS fans is that 10 seniors graduated from a 17-1 squad that advanced to the Class 3 title game.
The good news is that the new-look Falcons generated nearly 12 points per game en route to an 8-0 record.
The only full-time returning starter is junior shortstop pitcher Ethan Gibson, who has already committed to play at Virginia Tech.
Senior Cole Lambert, who doubled as an AHS quarterback in football, was moved to third base after being sidelined with a leg injury last season.
Junior Luke Bedwell works at receiver, with junior Landon Greer at first base and junior Jack Ferguson at second.
Senior Braiden Mock brings his experience to an outfield that includes speedy rookie Elijah Parks and rookie Beckett Dotson.
Gibson anchors a pitching staff that has other capable arms in powerful freshman Jett Humphreys along with Lambert, Parks and sophomores Ethan Grubb and Lucas Brooks.
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Freshman Daniel Fellhauer recently suffered a season-ending elbow injury.
As has been the case with several AHS stars in recent years, Gibson, Humphreys and Fellhauer have all honed their skills competing against elite summer travel prom organizations.
After sweeping the Mountain 7 and Region 3D regular season titles, the Falcons finally gave up a 6-3 decision to Independence in the Class 3 Championship.
Five starters from that AHS team are now competing at the collegiate level, including Chase Hungate (Virginia Commonwealth) and Luke Francisco at Carson-Newman.
Five starters return from an 11-5 team that beat Richlands and Virginia High in the 2D Region playoffs before falling 23-7 in the Championship.
Coach Jonathan Salyer’s veterans are second-year wide receiver Luke Bledsoe, senior first baseman Carter Babb (.400), senior third baseman Ryan Jessee (19 RBI), senior designated hitter Trevor Herron (.396) and junior outfielder Ethan Fleming.
Other regulars include senior Brevan Spivey at second base, rookie Brayden Cox at shortstop, sophomore outfielder Eli McMurray and junior outfielder John Little.
Jessee and Babb headline the pitching team, which includes Little and freshman Zack DePriest.
The Blue Devils will miss current Southwest Virginia Community College player Jake Taylor, who hit .453 while posting a 5-1 pitching record. Babb has already committed to playing UVA Wise.
So far this season Gate City (2-6, 1-3) have lost district games to Abingdon, Wise Central and John Battle.
With a young roster, the Trojans averaged 11 points en route to a 7-0 record that included four district wins. The winning streak ended Friday afternoon with a 14-4 loss to Providence Academy.
The returning starter mix includes senior receiver Will Purifoy, senior second baseman JonAlan Richardson, sophomore outfielder Broadie Bailey, senior outfielder Nolan Sailor, senior designated hitter Ryan Mix, sophomore pitcher Jackson Gayle and senior pitcher Noah Sills.
Freshman Evan Hankins is at first base, with freshman Elijah Childress at third. Freshman Porter Gobble will see time at shortstop, second and on the mound.
The deep pitching cast is led by Gobble and Hankins, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound southpaw who has already committed to play at the University of Tennessee. Gobble won his first four starts.
Pitching depth comes from Sailor, senior Gavin Ratliff and Childress.
John Battle lost 11-2 to Abingdon in the second round of last year’s Mountain 7 tournament. After beating Tazewell 5-4 to open the 2D Region playoffs, the Trojans (10-6) were held without a hit in a 5-0 loss to Lebanon.
The Generals (3-5, 2-3) had nine hits en route to a 6-5 victory at Wise County Central on Thursday.
Lucas Parsons was the star, striking out five and allowing just six hits.
Other players to watch include Bryce Moritz, Jacob Crouse, Caleb Leonard and pitcher Chandler Mullins.
After falling to John Battle to open last year’s District Tournament, Lee High (4-10) ended the season with a loss to Lebanon in the 2D Region Qualifiers. It was the first regional place for the Generals since 2013.
New coach Dewayne Stanley relies on a cast of multi-sport athletes.
The outfield includes three senior veterans Tyler Mullins, junior Brady Fleming (.303) and junior Brandon Beavers.
Junior Blake Baker (.286) is back at receiver, with junior Hunter Goodman at third, junior Elijah Rasnick at first and second Terran Owens (.313) at shortstop.
Versatile juniors Cannon Hill and Koda Counts split time at second base, with senior Reed O’Quinn serving as the designated hitter.
Beavers, Counts and Owens lead the pitching team.
After going 0-13 last season, Ridgeview (3-5) already has a district win over Lee High this season.
Stanley was previously a baseball coach at Haysi.
After a 2-11 record last season, coach Dave Wyrick is looking to a group of returning starters.
Veterans include senior Seth Cox at first base, junior Espn Evans at second, junior John Ryan Hurley at shortstop and junior Eli Blanton at receiver.
Senior basketball stars Bradley Bunch (outfield) and Caiden Bartee (third base) are also in the mix along with senior football star Ethan Mabe. Junior Brady Adams is another versatile newcomer.
First-year outfielder Cole Chandler and first-year pitcher Sam Whitman have already shown promise. Whitman has two wins for the Bears (4-5, 0-3) this season.
The Warriors caused a stir earlier this spring by averaging 12 points en route to seven straight wins.
But Wise Central opened the district game with losses to Abingdon (10-0) and Lee High. The Warriors committed four errors in the 6-5 loss to Lee High.
Experienced coach JW Salyers is blessed with one of the most experienced rosters in the region.
Senior starters include catcher Cam Foster, first baseman Tyson Tester, third baseman Preston Joyner as well as outfielders Logan Sartin and Hunter Austin.
Juniors Ashton Bolling (second base), Robbie Wilson (shortstop) and Braeden Church (outfield) are also regulars.
Freshman Parker Collins is in the mix at designated hitter and pitcher.
Sartin is the ace on the mound, where he’s joined by Wilson, senior Hunter Louden, Bolling and sophomore Cayden Hayes.
The Warriors (9-5) ended last season with an 8-3 loss to Virginia High in the first round of the 2D Region Playoffs. Wise Central will be helped by the return of three players who were sidelined by injuries last season.
Wide receiver Evan Stanley is now a regular at the University of Virginia College in Wise, while Ethan Mullins is at Alice Lloyd.
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