A more fortunate misfortune

In this file photo from last May, River View’s Maleek Woodson is in scoring position at second base in a sectional baseball game with PikeView. Woodson is one of a dugout-full of experienced players the Raiders had returning for the 2020 season. 

BRADSHAW —  “We felt like we were in a very good place,” summed up River View head baseball coach Brad Hardy two weeks ago, with the 2020 season on hold, but hopes still alive for being able to play at least some baseball this spring.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Governor Jim Justice cancelled public school classes for the remainder of this school year and WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan followed with the inevitable scrubbing of all spring sports.

Hardy, who would have been in his second year as the head Raider baseball coach, took over last season with a bevy of young, but untested, talent.

He molded those players into a squad of returnees who were eager to build on their last season’s learning and with their sights set high for 2020.

As an example, several games last year saw the View starting five or six freshmen and sophomores.

Of the 17 players on this year’s roster, six seniors returned and eight starters from a year ago were back.

With all hope gone for the 2020 campaign, Coach Hardy simply remarked, “It is what it is.”

Hardy spoke of his six seniors in talking about this season that isn’t going to be, “Gabe Blankenship came out this year after not playing before.”

He went on to mention Mikey Hare, a three year player who pitched last season, as well as playing right field and second base.

Brent Shupe looked to be a four year player, who played second base and the outfield.

Boo Roberts also came out after sitting out last season. A lefty, Hardy planned to use Roberts in center field.

Cody Mullins also didn’t play in 2019 but came out this preseason.

Kenny Dale rounds out the senior contingent in 2020, and has played on and off over the past three seasons.

Almost without exception, Coach Hardy complimented all his players for their work ethic and attitude in this preseason.

Trying to find a silver lining in the cancellation this season, Hardy related, “We’re fortunate it didn’t happen last year. We played so many young players and they gained valuable experience. If this had happened last season, we would not have near the experience we gained a year ago.”

Junior Austin Cooper gained valuable experience a season ago both on the mound and behind the plate.

Transfer Cody Muncy, also a junior, had been counted on greatly in the Raiders’ plans for 2020.

Sophomores Jake Campbell, Daniel Dobbs, Conner Christian and Ronnie Auville also gained valuable playing time last season, with sophomore Maleek Woodson having come on at the end of the season.

One big addition to this season was a 12-team tournament to be hosted by the Raiders.

Hardy explained, “We planned this to showcase our stadium because we are extremely proud of it. We were going to have a dozen teams involved and planned to feed the players and just make a big deal out of it.”

River View also was set to play again in the Yo-Na Tournament in Bland County, Va.

With the most recent cancellations, Coach Hardy and assistant coach Frazier McGuire, who is also the River View Principal, are left to ponder the possibilities of the 2020 season and start laying plans for 2021.

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