WHEELING - John Marshall High School's Monarch Field has been a launching pad for many a homer during the years. And it's also served as a launching pad for many a collegiate career.
During his nearly 40 years in the JM dugout, Coach Bob Montgomery has always prided himself on how his teams have played. But he's also been known to take a moment to say how proud he is of former players that are succeeding collegiately.
Currently, 10 ex-Monarchs are toiling on the college diamonds. Among them are West Liberty's Aaron Fonner and Jake Lucas and Bethany's Chuck Ziants.
Casey Defibaugh and Ryan Lewicki are suiting up for the Bobcats of West Virginia Wesleyan, while Jason Troy and Matt Carnahan are attending Wingate and Capital universities, respectively.
Josh McKown is playing for Potomac State. Jimmy Henderson is a member of West Virginia University club baseball and Todd Schmidt is on the junior varsity squad at Mount Union.
Steubenville native McGhee
Freshman of the Year
Former Steubenville High School wrestling standout Shawn McGhee wasted little time in making a name for himself in the collegiate ranks.
A two-time OVAC champion, the Campbellsville University standout has been named Mid-South Conference Freshman of the Year.
The award was selected by a vote of conference coaches.
McGhee finished the season with a 20-9 record and achieved NAIA All-American status after placing fourth at 149 pounds at the NAIA Championships.
Falcons Stifling Opponents
One of the reasons Fairmont State will be the favorite to win the upcoming, and final, West Virginia Conference Softball Tournament is its earned run average.
The Falcons are fifth nationally in NCAA Division II with a team mark of 1.32.
Steubenville High School graduate Terri Lynn Wolfe is an outfielder for the Falcons (25-8 overall, 13-3 WVC), who travel to Ohio Valley today. Wolfe is one of 11 WVC players with a fielding percentage of 1.000.
Point Park in the Hunt
With the season winding down, the Point Park University softball team remains in the hunt for the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship (KIAC).
The Pioneers roster includes Wheeling Park graduate Abby Mathieu and Steubenville alum Brea Magnone. The ladies, both juniors, have played in 15 and eight games, respectively.
Point Park is 21-11 overall and 14-6 in the KIAC, an NAIA conference.
The move of this season's NCAA Division II and Division III men's basketball championships to the city of the Division I final was met with plenty of favor. So much so that some had talked about continuing the practice in future. But, for now, champions in Divisions II and III will be crowned at separate sites.
For the past three seasons, West Liberty's men played in the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass., Northern Kentucky and Louisville's Freedom Hall. If the Hilltoppers can make it four straight appearances, they will play in Evansville, Ind.
The Ford Center will play host to the event March 26-27 and 29. Evansville welcomed the championship from 1957-75 and again in 2002.
The Division III crown will be contested in Salem, Va.
Dayton will again play host to the Division I First Four in 2014. Also, Madison Square Garden will stage the East Regional, the first time tournament games have been played there in more than 50 years.
In 2015, Dayton, Columbus and Pittsburgh will be first-round Division I sites. Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena will play host to the Midwest Regional.
On Deck Today
West Virginia University and West Liberty will both have their spring football games today. The Mountaineers' Blue-Gold game is set for 2 p.m., while the Hilltoppers' Black-Gold game kicks off at noon. ... All six local baseball and softball teams are in action today. Wheeling Jesuit and West Liberty will play host to Fairmont State and Alderson-Broaddus for doubleheaders, while Bethany visits Grove City for a twinbill. At noon, Wheeling Jesuit welcomes W.Va. Wesleyan for a twinbill, while West Liberty plays host to Davis & Elkins. Bethany visits Waynesburg for two at 1 p.m.
Rick Thorp can be reached via email at email@example.com