Baseball opening season in NC

After years of no crackerjacks, chilidogs, and chalk lines, baseball is coming back to Glenville. Yes, baseball has been a part of the school the last couple years as a club but this year will be a part of the highly competitive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 50 game regular season that includes opening the season with a tournament in North Carolina. The young Pioneers have been working hard though and plan on easily surpassing their preseason rank of last in the conference.

In its first year back in competitive collegiate play, the Pioneers have certainly found a worth candidate for a Head Coach in  Tom Gilbert. Gilbert previously had experience in the Marand area as one of the top high school coaches in the state and additionally had success as a head coach of the Oreolanders baseball team, a developmental team for young rising stars. The team had seen its fair share of success and under Gilbert’s tutelage it was no different as he helped many of those young stars reach their ultimate dream of playing in the big leagues.

Given their youth and considering how long that Glenville has been without a baseball program, it should come as little surprise as to why the Pioneers are picked to finish last in the conference. However as previously mentioned, these Pioneers are definitely not going to settle for that. Coach Gilbert believes every time they step on the field they be thinking of winning. As long as the team gives an honest effort on every hit, throw, and whatever they must do on the field to achieve victory, Gilbert maintained that he would be happy.  We should be finding out very soon just how good the Pioneer baseball team may end up being as they hit the road to Williamston, North Carolina for a tournament against top notch Division 2 competition.

The opening day starter for the Pioneers on the mound will be Point Pleasant graduate Brock McClung. McClung was a member of the West Virginia AA All-State his senior year as a part of the Big Blacks squad. Tyler Reid will be calling the pitches from his catcher position in the first game. Reid is an out-of-state recruit from Woodbine, Maryland where he excelled at baseball. A name that should be familiar with all in the community of Glenville is Ian Morris who will be starting opening day at first base. Morris has notable credentials of his own besides the fact that his grandfather has funded the athletic department so handsomely. Last year Morris was a A All-State pitcher before he decided to become a Pioneer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the mound sometime this season given his knack for striking out batters on the high school level. John Royce comes from the big city of Cleveland and plans to be a big part of the Pioneer team from second base and short stop. In the season opener he’ll be starting from the second base position. Philip Longnecker will be the starting short stop for the Pioneers in the opener. Longnecker hails from Martinsburg, West Virginia but played for the other AAA school in the area, Hedgesville. Colston Bayless, known mostly for his kicking talents on the football field, will start the season at third base for the Pioneers. The Virginia native is a recent addition to the team. In the outfield Heath Swisher, Danny Gilbert, and Ethan Szabo are going to be the opening day starters. Swisher, a Ripley, West Virginia native, will be in left field. Gilbert will start in center field. Gilbert, like Morris, played his senior year at Gilmer County High School. However, Gilbert originally was a Maryland native and is known for his exceptional speed when running the bases and fielding pop-ups. Szabo will start the season in right field for Pioneers. Szabo comes from Felton, Delaware and adds another decent bat to an outfield full of good hitters. Designated hitters Tucker Abruzzino and Ronnie Loy both look to get playing time for the Pioneers on the opening day. Abruzzino, a Bridgeport, West Virginia native, also should see playing time at pitcher and in the outfield for the Pioneers sometime this season. Loy, who was a stand-out at Petersburg High School for the Vikings, should take some of the wear and tear of playing catcher off of Tyler Reid. Jeremy Tindell, the lone senior on the team, also might see some playing time for the Pioneers.

The batting line-up on opening day for the Pioneers begins with the three outfielders. Gilbert will lead off for Glenville in Williamston, while Swisher is on deck and Szabo in the hole. Designated hitter Ronnie Loy will bat from the clean-up spot and Longnecker follows him. Third basemen Bayless bats next for the Pioneers and Glenville local Morris bats right after him. Reid and Royce finish up the order and Tindell and Abruzzino figure to fit in the line-up sometime during the game. Although this is the opening day line-up, the Pioneers are far from finalizing a starter for every day from each position. “The second game we will have a whole different line-up,”says Coach Gilbert about how the team plans to change from one game to the next. First season or not, these Pioneers are ready to compete.

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