OVAC baseball field takes shape
WHEELING — Saturday begins championship week in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference as champions will be determined in baseball, softball and tennis.
The baseball pairings were released late Wednesday and were finalized early Thursday. All semifinal games will be held Saturday.
All five returning champions made the field, but only four can defend their crown.
Steubenville was the champion of Class 5A last season, but Big Red dropped down to Class 4A this season. Coach Fred Heatherington’s club opens at 2 p.m. at Vaccaro Field against Harrison Central. When the standings were initially released, Meadowbrook was in the No. 4 spot but an incorrect record put the Huskies into the field, edging out Weir by the smallest of margins.
The defending champion in Class 4A is St. Clairsville, which will travel to Richmond to take on Edison at 11 a.m. in a rematch of last season’s title game. The Red Devils won that contest, 7-6.
With Big Red out of Class 5A, a new champion will be crowned.
Top-seeded Parkersburg South brings a 12-4 record and will play host to Warren Local. Like in Class 4A, Indian Creek was initially in the field before an error put the Warriors into the top four instead.
Wheeling Park was on the outside looking in as early as late last week, but Coach Mike McLeod’s Patriots made a late charge and not only made the field, but will be playing host to Morgantown at 11 a.m. at Patriot Field.
Barnesville is the top seed on Class 3A and draw one of the hottest teams in the OVAC in Linsly. The Cadets have been on a roll with impressive victories against Wheeling Central and Weir.
The defending OVAC champions will have to take to the road against the Shamrocks, who come into the tournament with a 13-5 record. That game will be played at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game will face the winner of No. 2 Tyler Consolidated and No. 3 Fort Frye. The Silver Knights have jumped out to an 11-2 start and face a tough task in last season’s runnerup.
Toronto is 16-1 and one of the best teams in Ohio. The top-seeded Red Knights won the championship last season and Coach Brian Perkins’ club draws Shadyside at 1 p.m. in the Class 2A semifinals. Toronto beat Shadyside, 11-4, on Wednesday.
The other half of the bracket features arguably the most intriguing matchup of the semifinals when No. 2 Wheeling Central faces No. 3 River. The Maroon Knights and Pilots have staged many memorable battles in every sport and Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at the I-470 Complex will likely be another.
In Class 1A, Paden City claimed the top seed and will welcome Trinity at noon. The Wildcats look to erase last season’s defeat in the title game and the Warriors will be up first. Trinity enters the tournament with a head-to-head tiebreaker on Conotton Valley.
Defending Class 1A champion Bishop Donahue has been red-hot and will welcome Frontier to Valley Fork at 11 a.m.
The Class 1A and 2A championship games will be held April 28 at I-470 in Wheeling, while the remaining classes will play April 29 at Vaccaro Field in Steubenville.