For the second straight season, the Black Diamond District will feature just three baseball teams.
For the second straight season, the Honaker Tigers are heavily favored to win the league championship.
With a roster featuring eight returning starters, seven seniors and BDD pitcher of the year Alex Barton, Honaker figures to be in the mix for a VHSL Class 1 state tournament berth.
Council and Hurley will not field varsity teams this season according to school officials, meaning that Honaker, Grundy and Twin Valley clinched Region 1D tourney bids before the season even began.
The following is a brief look at each of the BDD’s three squads:
The Tigers from Honaker are off to a 3-1 start and currently sport a collective .339 batting average and 3.77 ERA.
Junior Jax Horn is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA and is hitting .538, shortstop/pitcher T.J. Hubbard has a .500 batting average with eight RBIs and outfielder Levi McGlothlin is hitting at a .467 clip in the season’s early stages. All three were first-team All-Black Diamond District selections a season ago.
Hubbard had a five-RBI game against Castlewood recently, while McGlothlin delivered a walk-off RBI hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of an 8-7 trumping of Tazewell.
Alex Barton pitched to the tune of a 7-0 record and 1.18 ERA last season and was the winning pitcher in a first-round playoff victory over the J.I. Burton Raiders.
First baseman Jayson Mullins (.378, 12 RBIs in 2021), second baseman Ethan Compton (.300, 11 runs), third baseman Wes Yates (.375, 11 runs) and utility man Evan Justus (.313, 17 stolen bases) are also back from a season ago.
Hunter Cline, Matthew Nunley, Trevor Lester, Nick Ball, Trajon Boyd, Hunter Christian and Logan Boyd round out the roster for head coach Chris Anderson.
“After losing in the Region 1D semifinals last year to eventual region champion Chilhowie, our team entered the offseason with determination to improve upon that finish this season,” Anderson said. “The group has enough talent and experience to make a serious push toward a regional championship. The biggest question mark will be finding pitching depth. … If we can develop that pitching depth, the combination of experience, hitting and a challenging schedule to prepare us for the postseason should help us make a strong push come playoff time.”
The Golden Wave finished 6-6 last season in Tommy Crigger’s first season as the team’s head coach and seven starters are back in the fold.
Catcher Austin Deel and second baseman Kaden Vanover lead the group of returnees.
Deel hit .500 with eight RBIs and 19 runs scored last season in earning first-team All-Black Diamond District honors, while Vanover compiled a .370 batting average and stole 17 bases.
Vanover was also a first-team all-district honoree and has signed with the fledgling program at Southwest Virginia Community College.
First baseman Jonah Looney, outfielder Wyatt Surber, pitcher/shortstop Dylan Boyd, pitcher/third baseman Ethan Deel and outfielder Dylan Horn have experience for the Wave as well.
Bricen Lambert, Conner Hurley, Jacob Deel, Carson Griffey, Justin Weaver, Logan Boyd, Jacob Grizzle and Bryce Looney should also contribute. Crigger feels his team has improved defensively.
The 2021 season ended with an 11-4 loss to Holston in the first round of the VHSL Region 1D tournament. Austin Deel and Surber accounted for the Golden Wave’s two hits in that setback with Deel scoring two runs.
Grundy opens the season today against J.I. Burton.
Not much is known about the Twin Valley Panthers, who were swept in a doubleheader by Northwood on Thursday by scores of 15-0 and 14-3.
Pitcher Isaac Cooper, catcher Devin Mullins and second baseman Kenny Thompson were second-team All-Black Diamond District selections last season and were in the lineup on Thursday.
Lukas Dotson drove in all three of the runs for Twin Valley in the loss in the second game of the aforementioned doubleheader. Isaac Cooper and Timmy Hurley are names to remember as well.
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