Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

December 30, 2012

2012 Year in review: Changes and championships

BLUEFIELD — Athletes wearing a rainbow of colors, representing schools large and small, arrayed on fields, courts and tracks, competed for championships and for the love of their sports in the past 12 months.

The governing councils to which some of those schools belong were tossed by upheaval in that same time period.

In short, there was no shortage of big sports headlines in 2012. However, while reviewing the year, the Daily Telegraph sports staff was unanimous in its choice of the year’s biggest story.

Princeton Senior High School’s baseball team did something in June that no other set of diamond-dwellers had done in the long history of the school — winning the state baseball championship in Class AAA.

Under the leadership of coach Josh Wilburn, the Tigers reached the state tournament for the second time in three years. In six postseason games, Princeton scored 53 runs and allowed nine.

Princeton trailed Nitro 4-0 in the fifth inning of the title game, but scored six runs in the sixth and beat the Wildcats 7-4 on the artificial turf of Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

Among the crowd estimated to exceed 5,000, the many PSHS fans roared with approval.

“It was the fans, they kept us up the whole time,” catcher Corey Quick said. “They helped us to win, the student section was there, we knew we weren’t going to lose.”

Nitro had beaten Princeton 3-2 in the 2010 state semifinals.

The 2012 championship game had been scheduled for a day earlier, but bad weather caused the game to be rescheduled for Sunday, June 3.

The Tigers, who had nine seniors on the roster, concluded the season 26-8, winning the Coppinger Invitational Tournament in Bluefield on their way to the postseason.

It was particularly sweet for a team considered to be “the Rodney Dangerfield of the baseball teams still playing in Charleston” in June — they got no respect.

“It is something we have never done in our school’s history,” senior J.J. McPherson said. “It is our first state championship in a team sport in 31 years so it feels pretty good.”

“It is good to be the underdog and we came through,” Quick said. “We worked extremely hard.”

“This is something I will never forget,” said senior Seth Rose.

J.C. Pennington was the starting pitcher in both the semifinal and final game. Alex Quick picked up the pitching win in the championship, and Seth Rose hit Princeton’s only home run, a solo shot in the fifth.

The other top stories of the calendar year follow.

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