Bears’ Madris earned his NYPL all-star berth

MORGANTOWN — Bligh Madris intended to savor the scene at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, in Troy, N.Y., on Aug. 15 as a member of the South squad in the New York-Penn League (NYPL) all-star game.

The West Virginia Black Bears right fielder was just grateful to get a chance in pro baseball after the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the ninth round, out of Division II Colorado Mesa, in June.

He wasn’t pondering an all-star invitation.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Madris said before departing for the ballpark of the NYPL’s all-star hosts, the Tri-City ValleyCats. “It’s more than what I expected.

“It’s awesome to be a part of it in my first professional season. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I’m just looking forward to it.”

Madris’ resume is certainly all-star worthy.

He’s been one of the Black Bears’ most consistent players, offensively and defensively.

He’s batting .296 in 39 games, with three home runs and
22 RBIs, while committing only one error in 29 games.

He’s learned so much about making adjustments at the plate as the season has progressed.

Teams are pitching him differently than they did at the beginning of the season. He’s seeing more change-ups in fastball counts than ever before.

“I can’t just sit dead red fastball any more,” he said. “When I get those fastballs, I have to take advantage of them, and I can’t miss. If I do, I have to battle and just push through my at-bat and try to get a pitch I can handle and do something. Hopefully, I’ll work a walk or somehow get on base. Just as long as I’m putting the barrel on the baseball and not striking out, I’m happy with my at-bat.”

He hasn’t missed often this season, which is part of the reason he earned his trip to Troy. Madris and the four teammates who joined him in Troy — catcher Deon Stafford, Tristan Gray and pitchers Ike Schlabach and Adam Oller — learned of their all-star honors after a game in the most recent home stand.

They were escorted back onto the field to pose for a group shot in center field at Monongalia County Ballpark.

By the time Madris returned to the clubhouse and checked his phone, it appeared as if all of his family and friends knew of his all-star selection.

In all likelihood, they did know about it before he did.

With social media these days, it just happens so fast,” he said. “Other people know before you actually know. I’m looking forward to going to Tri-City and enjoying the experience.”

Madris was scheduled to return to Morgantown Aug. 16 to help the Black Bears continue their march toward a second playoff berth in three years.

West Virginia (31-22) holds a 1 1/2 game lead on Mahoning Valley (29-23) in the Pinckney Division standings. The regular season ends with a two-game series, at Mahoning Valley, that begins Sept. 6.

“It’s going to come down to the end,” Madris said. “We play them the last series of the year. We just have to keep playing hard and working hard in the work days and good things will happen.”