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Strong players with strong character highlight All-SW Va. baseball team

Kevin Mays • Jun 7, 2020 at 2:42 PM

There was no high school baseball this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which robbed many deserving players of a chance to shine on the field.

Despite not having a chance to play high school ball this spring, area players are being recognized by the Times News — in conjunction with their coaches — as members of the All-Southwest Virginia baseball team for 2020.

The selections were nominated by their coaches based on their past play on the field plus their leadership and academic abilities.

Here’s a look at the 2020 Times News All-Southwest Virginia baseball team and coaches comments about the player, if provided.

PITCHERS

Mason Barnett, sr., Gate City: “Mason was diagnosed with a rare condition in August and wasn’t able to walk by himself. He could not attend school so had to do everything online. He came to a couple of fall games to be with his teammates even though he couldn’t do anything but sit in the dugout. He started therapy and made huge strides. He was going to be playing first base when not pitching this year. He was looking really good and was going to be a big part of our pitching rotation this year.” — coach Jonathon Salyer

Caleb Yeary, jr., Thomas Walker: “Caleb has been a workhorse in our rotation and I really looked forward to him pitching this year as I know it would have been a breakout season for him. Caleb is a lead-by-example player on the field and in the classroom. He has a cumulative 4.0 GPA and is No. 1 in his class.” — coach Frank Brooks

Jordan Bishop, sr., Wise Central: “Jordan would have been our horse on the mound this year. He was set to have a solid senior year.” — coach J.W. Salyers

Bryce Hughes, sr., Castlewood: “Bryce has been a four-year starter for me and has logged a lot of innings for me. He has been with me since he was a freshman and I was a first-year head coach. He’s a quality pitcher and young man.” — coach Brian Summers

Chase Hungate, jr., Abingdon: Hungate was an All-Mountain 7 District pick in 2019 as a sophomore. He verbally committed to Virginia Common-wealth in November of last year.

Ethan Ketron, jr., Abingdon: Ketron was an All-Mountain 7 District pick as a sophomore.

Justin Reed, sr., Twin Springs: “Justin will be continuing his baseball career at UVA Wise. Justin has been a great role model and team leader for our underclassmen.” — coach Jared Finch

Cam Bartee, sr., Union: “Cam would have been at the front of our rotation this year on the mound. Cam threw a complete-game win last year, beating a very good Daniel Boone team, and led Abingdon last year for five innings in the district championship game before the pitch count took its toll.” — coach David Wyrick

CATCHERS

Jon Compton, sr., Gate City: “Jon is a senior that is going to Walters State to play baseball. You can’t get a better leader than Jon. He was always willing to help his teammates and he’s probably the best catcher in the area.” — coach Jonathon Salyer

Jonas Lane, sr., Abingdon: “A lead-by-example player that was a weight-room warrior. His positive attitude, leadership and work ethic made our entire pitching staff better. In all my years at Abingdon, he improved more than any player I’ve had the pleasure to coach. A valedictorian at AHS, he had a perfect GPA and was accepted to the Honors College at Virginia Tech.” — coach Mark Francisco

Tanner Branham, sr., J.I. Burton: “Tanner came back out last year for the first time since eighth grade. He came out and started at catcher for us and had a really good year for us.” — coach Jacob Caudill

INFIELDERS

Justin Sexton, sr., Eastside: “Justin has been a very hard-working, team-first player his entire career. The discipline he has displayed will serve him well in whatever life brings his way.” — coach Chris Clay

Landon Trent, sr., Eastside: “Landon was primed to contend for district player of the year honors. He has developed into a groundball fielding machine and is willing to serve any role necessary to help his team be successful.” — coach Chris Clay

Casey Michael, sr., Thomas Walker: “Casey was a true utility player, playing every infield position when and where we needed him. Casey is the kind of player that every coach wishes they had, willing to learn, gives a 100% effort and a leader on and off the field. Casey graduated with a 3.49 grade point average and in the top 10 of his class.” — coach Frank Brooks

Brody Counts, sr., Ridgeview: “Four years varsity, hard worker. He was expected to fill leadership and skill void after the loss of seven starters off last year’s squad.” — coach Brad Counts

Tyler Tabor, sr., Lee High: “Tyler was a solid middle infielder that hit leadoff and was possibly my No. 2 on the mound. Tyler has a great work ethic on the field as well as the classroom.” — coach Ray Robbins

Kolby Reed, sr., Lee High: “Kolby was the captain of our team this year and led by example. He was one of the first to show up and the last to leave. He would have been the ace of the staff and probably our best hitter. Kolby is going to school to become a welder.” — coach Ray Robbins

Mason Caldwell, sr., Union: “Mason would have been one of the most versatile players this year in the Mountain 7, playing a pivotal role in the infield, outfield and on the mound.” — coach David Wyrick

OUTFIELDERS

E.J. McDaniel, sr., Wise Central: “Set to attend Berea College and play baseball in the fall, E.J. is a great example of how hard work pays off. E.J. worked his way into the starting lineup as a junior and was going to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat for us this spring.” — coach J.W. Salyers

Lucas Messer, sr., Wise Central: “Lucas is a hard worker and will succeed in whatever he attempts as an adult. He was a team leader for us.” — coach J.W. Salyers

Jonah Cochrane, sr., J.I. Burton: “Jonah was an all-region center fielder last year. Jonah is a very solid baseball player that is well deserving of this honor.” — coach Jacob Caudill

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