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Title Loss Still Stings for Magnolia

March 21, 2014
By JOSH STROPE , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

NEW MARTINSVILLE - Magnolia baseball coach Dave Cisar has been doing this a long time - 41 years to be exact.

But even a loss like the one the Blue Eagles were dealt in the West Virginia Class A state championship game spring finds a way to stick with him.

"We talk about it every day," Cisar said. "We felt like we were the best team in the state. We took a bad time to not play our best game."

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Magnolia coach Dave Cisar begins his 41st season in charge of the Blue Eagles baseball team. He has an astounding 823 victories during that span.

So as for this season's expectations? Well, they never change at Magnolia.

"We like our team," Cisar said. "We lost four great players but we have six, seven kids that were thrown into the fire last year and came out looking pretty good.

"If we play with some determination and real hard-nosed hustle, we think we can one of the elite teams in the OVAC and in Class A West Virginia."

The Blue Eagles were hit hard by graduation, losing three first team all-staters in Kyle Elliott, Chandler Sapp and Ryan Walton. Honorable mention first-teamer Tanner Hanna was their super utility guy.

Those four combined for 195 hits and 21 victories on the mound.

Despite those losses, Magnolia brings plenty back with six returning lettermen, led by starting pitcher and leading hitter Zach Wilhoite.

The senior was a perfect 6-0 on the mound last season and recorded a .370 batter average. Wilhoite plays first base.

"We expect great things from him," Cisar said. "He has pretty good tools."

Sophomore Chase Miller was 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA and senior Jake Starkey was 2-0.

Sophomores Derek Blain, Tanner McAdams and Devon Kelly round out the rotation.

Four-year starter Grant Cain, who hit .290 last season, returns behind the plate, backed up by freshman Nick Priem.

Sophomore Brandon Mason will likely get the nod at second base and share time there with McAdams and Starkey.

Starkey will mostly man third base with Priem giving him a break.

Sophomore Tyler Anderson will play shortstop.

When Miller is not pitching, he will play center field.

He recorded 48 hits and .480 batter average last season.

Drew Keller, who Cisar said "if he is half as good this season as he was in football, he is going to be a heckuva player," mans right.

Left field is up for grabs between senior Eric Smith and sophomores Todd LeMasters, Garrett Price, Joe Ledergerber and Valley transfer Chase West.

Lane Whiteman will also see time in the outfield as will freshmen Jake Napier, Dylan Conner and Drew Herrick.

"We think we can put a solid pitcher on the mound every time," Cisar said. "We have good arms and we can swing a pretty good bat.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I get to spend every day doing something I love, being around a great bunch of kids that belong to great families."

Cisar, who begins the season with 823 victories, will be assisted by a pair of first-year coaches in former Magnolia all-stater John Smith and John Marshall all-stater Donnie Gilbert.

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