After going 31-6 last season and missing out on the 2013 WVSSAC Class-1A title, the Magnolia baseball team looks to be among one of the high school Class-1A elite teams once again.
The Eagles lost to graduation last year three first team all-staters - Kyle Elliot, Chandler Sapp, and Ryan Walton - and All-State Honorable Mention Tanner Hanna.
But, Blue Eagle Head Coach Dave Cisar has seen it all and will have 21 guys ready in the wings to help propel the team to heights that Blue Eagle fans are accustomed to during Cisar's 41 years at the helm.
The Eagles return six lettermen, including senior Zach Willhoite, who pitched and played first base a season ago. He was 6-0 as a hurler and batted .360. Sophomore Chase Miller also returns to the diamond where he was 2-1 with a nice 2.04 ERA from the hill. He also recorded 48 hits at the plate, where he posted a .480 batting average. Miller will look to hold down centerfield, where his speed and baseball savvy will be valuable.
Also back on the hill is senior Jake Starkey, who was 2-0 on the mound that included a no-hitter. He also played a bit at second and third bases and appears ready to start at third with promising freshman Nick Priem backing him up. Sophomores Derek Blain, Tanner McAdams, and Devon Kelly round out the pitching rotation. Blain also will see some time at first base and at all the outfield positions.
"We think if we can put a solid pitcher on the mound every time and play good fundamental defense, we can be very competitive every game," said Cisar.
Four-year starter Chase Cain is back as the main man behind the plate and who displeased opponents because of his catching skills and rifle-arm ability to throw out base runners. Cain batted near .300 last season.
Starting at second looks to be sophomore Brandon Mason, who will be sharing time with either Starkey or McAdams, while sophomore Tyler Anderson will be at short and who also will see playing time at second and third bases. Sophomore Shane Mason will see some time at first and second base.
With Miller patrolling centerfield, and senior Drew Keller holding down right field, it looks like left field will be up for grabs. Senior standout Eric Smith and Valley senior transfer Chase West are the apparent front runners for the job at left, while sophomores Todd LeMasters, Garrett Price, and Joe Ledergerber are still in the hunt.
Sophomore Lane Whiteman will also see time in the outfield, as will freshmen Jake Napier, Dylan Conner, and Drew Herrick.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I get to spend every day doing something I really love, being around a great bunch of kids that belong to great families," added Cisar.
"Baseball is an endurance test, with lots of ups and downs. If we can improve every day, by the end of the season we can be a pretty darn good baseball team. The future is the future."
Cisar will be assisted by a pair of all-staters in MHS graduate John Smith and John Marshall graduate Donnie Gilbert.