Hawks’ Mulhall earns elite state baseball honor

MORGANTOWN — Ross Mulhall’s career with the University High baseball team was nothing short of stellar.

As a four-year starter at first base, he wanted to go out with a bang this season as a senior. Through a 28-game season that came to an end with a sectional championship loss to Morgantown, Mulhall’s final statistics were exceptional.

He finished with a .472 batting average, 11 home runs, 12 doubles and 44 RBIs — on his way to winning the West Virginia Baseball Gatorade Player of the Year, announced Tuesday.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by an organization like Gatorade,” Mulhall said. “I’m very proud to be representing University High School and the state of West Virginia.”

Mulhall’s pop at the plate was reminiscent to another former UHS slugger that has since gone on to play in the big league’s — Jedd Gyorko.

Like Gyorko, Mulhall will play Division I baseball. Gyorko stayed home and went to WVU, but Mulhall will head to northern Philadelphia and play at La Salle.

“La Salle has a great coaching staff who all have a lot of high-level experience and knowledge about and in the game,” Mulhall said. “They are genuine people who will get the best out of me.”

Led by head coach David Miller, the Explorers had a difficult season, going 14-41, losing their last 16 games. First baseman Chase Arnold will graduate, while Ben Faso will be back for his senior year next year. As of now, there are no plans to redshirt Mulhall, so there could be opportunities to play as a true freshman.

Before heading to college, though, he had unfinished business with the Hawks. As the power bat in the UHS lineup, Mulhall’s main goal this season was to drive in runs from the third spot in the lineup, hitting behind Kaden Metheny and Austin Forbes.

“My goal was to do whatever I could to help my team win every night and to be a good leader,” Mulhall said. “I tried to drive in as many runs as possible and hit at least 10 home runs because that’s how I know I would help the team.”

Mulhall’s presence in the lineup even made coaching decisions difficult for opponents.

“You really don’t want to pitch to Mulhall, because if you miss, you’re not going to get the ball back,” Preston head coach Glen McNew Jr. said in a news release. “He is sound at everything and he can smoke the ball. He’s just an excellent all-around player.”

Mulhall joins recent Gatorade players of the year Drew Hefner (2017, Bridgeport), Paul Witt (2016, Jefferson), Zach Minnick (2015, Logan), Seth Kinker (2014, Cabell Midland), Corey Bird (2013, Herbert Hoover), Korey Dunbar (2012, Nitro), Tyler Payne (2011, Hurricane), J.R. Bradley (2010, Nitro) and Corey Miller (2009, Cabell Midland).

Mulhall will now be entered for a chance to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year, announced later this year. He will also be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and can enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing an essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support.

Mulhall picked SteppingStones, at Mylan Park, a nonprofit organization that provides year-round recreation for children and adults with disabilities.

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