The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

April 5, 2014

Ayers, Zeboskey bolster Warriors’ offense

BECKLEY — Jaquan Ayers is fully aware of the rare opportunity he has been given.

He was part of history last fall at Summers County, which hosted a playoff football game for the first time ever. That game ended with an upset loss to Ritchie County.

In about two months, Ayers hopes for a chance for a happier ending, on a different field, for a different team.

Ayers transferred to Wyoming East in the winter, and is now the starting third baseman for the Warriors. Two years after winning the school’s first-ever state championship, Wyoming East (4-0) thus far has looked like a team with serious aspirations of scaling the mountain again.

And Ayers is not taking the chance lightly.

“You usually don’t have two chances at going to states in anything,” Ayers said. “I think God has really blessed me with something here, so I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Ayers has helped bolster an offense that has not scored fewer than 11 runs through its first four games. The Warriors, ranked fifth in the state in Class AA, have a run differential of better than nine runs per game.

“Any team would be glad to have (Ayers),” veteran Warriors coach Ron “Chief” Mayhew said. “I think every game his offense has improved.”

The first four hitters in East’s lineup — Christian Hedinger, Austin Canada, Ayers and left-handed Josh Zeboskey — have provided the bulk of the pop. But there has been contribution from other spots in the order, including Hunter Simmons in the five hole and Chase Pressley bringing Hedinger back around from the ninth spot.

The presence of Ayers and Zeboskey was an unexpected treat for Mayhew. Zeboskey is also a transfer, although he returned to Wyoming East after spending his junior year at Greenbrier East.

The Warriors lost, among others, pitcher Derek Thornton and catcher Zach Whitten from last year’s team.

“Zeboskey is hitting the ball well,” Mayhew said. “We graduated some good ones, but we picked up two. That’s a blessing. And I really believe Ayers can pitch. We’ll give him a little more time to settle down, but I think he is going to be new pitcher for us.”

Ayers was an honorable mention all-stater at Summers County, which has struggled on the baseball field in recent years. Playing for a contender is helping Ayers relax.

“I feel more comfortable,” Ayers said after Tuesday’s 11-5 win at No. 6 Liberty. “I feel like I can play my game without so much pressure on me. It’s a big stress reliever.”

The Warriors are scheduled to play at Oak Hill at 4 p.m. today, then will visit No. 2 Independence at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

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

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