Championship seasons are byproducts of hard work and experience gained from what is often a tough and bumpy road.
Heading into the 2019-20 high school baseball season, Oak Hill had paid its dues and gained the needed experience that many felt made them a state championship contender. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, their possible title run has been put on hold thanks to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heading into his senior season at Oak Hill, Lane Jordan had good reason to be excited.
The four-year starter was not only coming off a strong junior campaign in which he hit just under .400 and was 4-1 on the mound with a 1.23 ERA, he was also set to reunite with some old teammates after the closure of nearby Fayetteville High School.
"A lot of guys came over from Fayetteville that I had played travel ball with when we were younger," Jordan said. "We all started playing together, got separated, and now we were back together for one last year. Everyone had been working hard from January and right up to the start of the season."
While even familiar additions can lead to chemistry issues, that was not the case for the Red Devils, according to Jordan.
"When practices started, I was really excited. We really thought we were going to have a legitimate chance at making it to the state tournament," Jordan said. "I could tell by the way we were practicing and working that everybody thought we could win (the title). We were all clicking together and ready to go. So we were really bummed out when we got the news."
Although he has been a cross country runner for six years, Jordan has been all baseball from a young age, even if it wasn't love at first sight.
"I actually remember never really wanting to play baseball," Jordan said, laughing. "I tried it one year and I liked it, but it wasn't until that following summer when I was 7 and went to a (Cincinnati) Reds game. That experience was really awesome. After that I really wanted to go out and practice and I knew it was something I wanted to continue doing."
The love of the game fueled the hard work that placed Jordan in the Red Devils' starting lineup from the moment he stepped on to the high school diamond.
"I am not sure if I have ever sat an inning, really. I was given a fair shot when I came up as a freshman and luckily I was able help the team," Jordan said.
The Red Devils have been tantalizingly close to their elusive state tournament dream the last two seasons. Jordan feels the experience gained in those high stakes showdowns is what gives his team an edge this year.
"My sophomore year we were up on Liberty pretty big with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and they came back on us. Anytime you blow a big lead like that, it's kinda hard to swallow," Jordan said. "Last year, we knew we had a really good shot at winning the section and we knew Shady (Spring) was going to be tough. Shady was just more experienced than we were. A lot of those guys had been through the battles. I think experience really played a big factor.
"I wasn't really disappointed with what happened (last year)," Jordan went on to say. "It is always tough to lose to a rival, but considering where we started my freshman year, I felt like in just over a year-and-a-half or two-year period, we made some great progress."
While the future of this year's high school season remains in limbo, Jordan's baseball career is far from over. Next year he will join several other local players on the roster at WVU Tech.
"I am really excited about it," Jordan said. "I really like (head) coach (Lawrence Nesselrodt), and all of the guys were really welcoming. I like the way that they play the game. That is the way I have always played it and we seemed to mesh really well."
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