Despite losing several key players from last year's state championship team, expectations remain high for Elkins Post 29 entering the summer season.
"Our goal is to get back to the championship game," Post 29 general manager Chris George said. "We lost a lot of talent from last year but you can't keep a team together forever.
"Everyone else has to replace talent and we're no different."
The Inter-Mountain file photo
Elkins Post 29 enters the summer as the defending American Legion state champions, defeating South Charleston in last year’s title game. Post 29 once again will play a competitive schedule, including hosting the annual Pizza Hut Hillbilly Hardball Classic June 13-16. Post 29 is off to a 2-0 start after earning a 7-4 win over Grantsville, Md., on Tuesday night. See Page B3 for game details.
Elkins is comprised of players from several area high schools, including Elkins High, Tygarts Valley, Philip Barbour, Tucker County and Pocahontas County.
"We have a good blend of players from several schools this year," George said. "It's always good to get as much talent from as many surrounding areas that we can."
Players lost from last year include Scott Fox, Trevor Mouser, Christian Scott, Heath Broughton, Ryne Bonnell, Caten Murphy and Corey Howell.
Fox was one of the top players in the state last summer, on the mound and at the dish.
"We lost a lot of pithing," George said. "But we have a team with a lot of arms. It will be just a matter of what role they will fill."
Colby Gainer and Cody Gainer will lead the staff, according to George.
Both are Elkins High products with Colby just completing his junior year, while Cody is at West Virginia University, where he competed on the fall team and is looking to make the spring roster next year.
Others expected to be in the rotation include Brandon Hamons (Pocahontas County), Issac Riggleman (Elkins High), Tyler Scott (Elkins High), Chance Price (Philip Barbour), Silas Gibson (Elkins High), Jeriah Joseph (Tucker County), Owen Arbogast (Tygarts Valley) and Ben Lonergan (Elkins High).
Elkins High product Brandon Dettinger will serve as the team's closer.
The infield will consist of Garrett Riggleman (Elkins High) and Gibson at first base, Wes Felton (Pocahontas County) and Price at second, Tyler Shreve (Elkins High) at shortstop and Colby Gainer, Dettinger and Scott at third.
Cameron Clarkson (Elkins High) also will see time in the infield.
Doug Smith (Philip Barbour), Jake Wyatt (Elkins High) and Kevin McDermott (Tucker County) will share the catching duties.
Filling the outfield spots will be a combination of several players, including Price, Dettinger, Scott, Al Johnson (Philip Barbour), Cody Gainer and Lonergan.
The coaching staff, along with George, includes head coach Joe Ross, and assistants Adam Fansler, Spencer Webley and Lance VanNoy.
Elkins is off to a 2-0 start after defeating Grantsville (Md.) 7-4 on Tuesday, Post 29 will return to action at 7 p.m. Thursday at Morgantown.
Elkins' home opener is slated for 5 p.m. Sunday against Preston at Elkins High School for an Area 5 contest.
The annual Pizza Hut Hillbilly Hardball Classic will take place June 13-16.