The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 7, 2014

Independence has recovered nicely from opening loss

The first game of the season was a far cry from what was expected from Independence.

The defense committed three errors, and Wyatt Adkins was held hitless in a 9-6 loss at Greenbrier East.

Things have since picked up.

The Patriots have won their last five games heading into a scheduled game with Wyoming East today in Coal City. Both teams go in with top 10 Class AA rankings in the latest West Virginia Sports Writers Poll.

Independence (5-1) maintained its No. 2 spot, while East (4-1) slipped a spot to No. 6.

It’s hard for second-year Indy coach Scott Cuthbert not to be happy with how things have gone of late. The  Patriots are outscoring opponents by an average of better than 10 runs per game.

“We’ve been playing pretty good so far,” Cuthbert said. “We’ve had some good pitching and have made some good plays in the field.”

Seven different pitchers have been dominant for the Patriots, who have a team earned run average of 1.24. Onky one pitcher, Dean Milam, has allowed an earned run, and Cuthbert blames than on spotty defense in the opener against East.

“We have several different guys we can put out there who can take us deep in games,” Cuthbert said. “We have used seven different pitchers and they have all been effective.”

Of course, the pitching staff gets overshadowed by the torrid start of senior Wyatt Adkins.

The shortstop has hit four home runs in his last two games, including a 3-2 win at rival Shady Spring last Thursday. He is hitting .563 with five homers, two triples and 14 runs batted in. He also has a laughable on-base percantage of 2.417 (.667 on-base, 1.750 slugging).

Take away Adkins’ 0 for 4 night against the Spartans and he is hitting .750.

“He struggled the first night but has kibd of gotten out of it,” Cuthbert said, understatedly. “He has had some real good games lately. He has a chance to have a pretty good year. He was just trying too hard and pressing that first night.”

Other area teams in the rankings are Woodrow Wilson at third in Class AAA, PikeView and Liberty tied for No. 9 in Class AA and Valley second and Greenbrier West in eighth.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.

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