Local Sports, University

UHS weathers rainy start to season

MORGANTOWN — If you ask a baseball player what he wants most out of the opening stretch of the season, you’ll likely get a round of similar answers.

“With baseball, you want to get a groove and play every day,” University senior Ross Mulhall said.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with man’s wishes or plans, and she’s certainly rained on UHS baseball’s parade this spring.

“It’s very frustrating. We lost the whole week prior to going down for the spring break trip to Florida, and you always like to get some games in West Virginia before that,” UHS coach Buck Riggleman said. “Now we’re back to West Virginia and we’re still struggling with the weather; it’s an ongoing thing.”

The weather blues are nothing new to the Hawks, though, according to Riggleman. It apparently takes quite a few April showers to prep for May flowers in the Mountain State, and UHS has learned to adjust as well as it can.

“We’ve adapted well. We use any outside facility where we can go hands on. We use the inside cages as much as possible. It’s mostly trying to keep the boys focused,” Riggleman said. “But once you’ve been outside and played some games, it’s hard to get back in the gym and keep the boys focused on baseball.”

The Hawks sought reprieve in the Florida sunshine over their spring break last week. They kickstarted their season with six games in five days, tallying a 1-5 record against national competition.

“We played a doubleheader the first day against two pretty good Ohio teams and we split with them. We had some local teams from Florida that scheduled us, and they’re all very quality teams,” Riggleman said. “We made some costly mistakes in the field, missed some opportunities at the plate. But they were very quality teams we played, and from that aspect I think it was good.

“We also got to play every single day we were down there, and we got some quality pitching time on the mound, so I think it was worth it.”

Despite the sluggish start in the win column, hopes are high among both the coaching staff and the players, as the Hawks look to contend at a high level in the following weeks.

“I think what we can build on is that we have six quality seniors that have been around the program, all of them playing valuable varsity time the past three years,” Riggleman said. “We have a strong, experienced group of underclassmen, and we’re mixing in a couple of strong freshean. I think we have a pretty good mix of talent from senior to freshman.”

Mulhall isn’t pulling any punches himself. In his mind, anything less than a state championship run for his final go-around will be rather disappointing.

“My expectations are to get down to Charleston and win a state championship. I think we’re capable of it, but we have to clean some things up. If we can do that, I think we’re definitely in good shape,” he said.

If the weather allows, The Hawks look to kick off their home slate at 5 p.m. today, when they’ll host sectional rival Preston, at Mylan Park.

According to Mulhall, adrenaline is high in the locker room to finally get things started.

“My teammates and I are really excited for the season and we have high hopes. I know we’ve had a rough start, but we’re just going to build off it.”