It’s commonly said that the best way to start your day is a good breakfast. Come breakfast time on Monday, 16th Region baseball fans will pay witness to perhaps the best way to start a region tournament.
Defending champion Ashland finally pulled off its first 64th District championship in eight seasons, and its reward?
A 10 a.m. date with Lewis County in the first round of this year’s tournament, which will be held at Ashland’s Alumni Field. The tournament draw meeting took place on Friday afternoon at Ashland Blazer High School.
Both Ashland coach Jeff Wilcox and Lewis County coach Keith Prater acknowledged that the opener of the tournament will be a hot ticket.
Following that game will be East Carter-Rowan County at 12:30 p.m., Bath County-Boyd County at 3 and Greenup County-Morgan County at 5:30. Tuesday’s semifinal round will hold first pitches at 5:30 and approximately 8 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m.
A clash of two of the region’s top pitchers should be on the docket Monday morning. Lewis County, which tallied a school-record 27 wins in spite of a taxing schedule this season, will likely send junior right-hander Sammy Holder to the hill while Prater believes his club will face University of Kentucky-bound lefty Logan Salow.
“It will be a great game for fans to watch,” said Wilcox, who last season guided the Tomcats to their first region title since 2004. The coach wouldn’t divulge his pitching plans.
Prater is preparing his team for Salow, who recently fired a perfect game against Lawrence County and shut out Boyd County in a 14-strikeout outing.
“I’m sure we’ll see Salow,” said the second-year Lions coach. “Let’s hope we show up and hit. If we can put runs on the board, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
Added Prater: “This has the potential to be the best game in the tournament, and unfortunately it’s in the first round.”
Greenup County coach Greg Logan chimed in on the subject.
“That’s a great way to open up (the tournament),” Logan said. “The Boyd County (versus Bath County) game will be great as well. You’re going to see some premier pitching on Monday.”
Logan, who has three region trophies to his name, hopes he rolled a Lucky 7 again. The Musketeers (22-12) drew the seventh slot on the bracket on Friday.
“No. 7’s been lucky for us and hopefully it is in 2013,” Logan said.
Morgan County (18-9) faces the Musketeers in the nightcap.
East Carter (18-16) and Rowan County (18-17) will feature a duel between former East Carter assistant Jason Davis, now heading up the Vikings, and current Raiders coach Jeremiah Shearer.
“We kind of knew we were going to draw each other,” Davis smiled.
Rowan County won just two of its first 14 games before winning 16 of its last 21. Cameron Planck, a freshman pitcher who zooms his fastball 84-85 miles per hour, will foot the rubber.
“Jeremiah’s kids hit fastballs pretty good,” Davis said. “But Cam needs that tournament feel. I’ve got my mind made up about him because this may be our last game and he needs to get that taste.”
Boyd County (19-16) will likely take on Bath County flamethrower Cable Wright. Wright, a lefty who signed with Morehead State, has a fastball that registers in the low 90s. The Wildcats, coached by former University of Kentucky pitcher Brock Baber, went 20-9 this season.
“(Bath County) is one of the two teams we haven’t played,” said Boyd County coach Brandon Ramsey. “Hopefully we find some stuff on them over the next three days. We know about Cable, he’s very, very good.”
The Lions recently struggled against Salow, another hard-throwing southpaw.
“We got shut out against Logan Salow and we’re facing a guy very similar,” Ramsey said. “We’ve got to figure things out offensively.”
Ramsey has the luxury of having a handful of dependable arms, with Billy McCoy leading the staff.
Most coaches are in favor of the three-day tournament format, including Ramsey and Logan.
“That’s really what it needs to be,” Ramsey said. “Baseball’s meant to be played every day. Go at it three days in a row and see who has the best team.”
“It’s going to be the deeper team that wins it,” Logan said. “You may be on pitcher No. 4 or 5 by the time you get to Game 3.”
No All-Tournament Team
Neither the baseball nor softball tournament will have an All-Tournament team this season.
The decision, prompted by a proposal made in the meeting by Ashland athletic director Mark Swift, was voted upon and agreed upon by school delegates.
There will still be an official tournament Most Valuable Player selected by members of the media.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.