By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
For a minute, Austin Norman thought about giving up.
The Fairmont Senior quarterback had just suffered a gruesome football injury — a broken fibula and dislocated ankle that was severe enough to turn his foot almost entirely backwards.
The Polar Bears’ football season was essentially over without their signal caller, and Norman thought that maybe his entire athletic career might also be finished.
“After that injury I talked about just going to college and going to school and being done with everything,” he said. “But I had a goal. That was to play baseball and play collegiately.”
A metal plate, a handful of screws and countless hours of rehab later, and he was back on the baseball field, where he belted 12 home runs, drove in 48 runs and hit .418 to go along with a 1.35 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
For his success on the diamond, the Marshall commit was named captain of the Class AA All-State team, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“I put in a lot of hard work in the offseason,” Norman said. “A lot of time in the weight room. A lot of time in the cage. A lot of time throwing. And it paid off.”
The hard work also paid off for several others from Marion County. Fairmont Senior pitcher Baily Mohr went 7-1 with a 1.25 ERA to earn his spot on the first team, and first baseman Johnny Kesling batted .434 with five home runs to be named to the second team.
North Marion catcher Keegun McCullough batted .413 with four home runs and East Fairmont infielder Jacob Bolander hit .357 with 13 RBI to earn special honorable mention.
East Fairmont outfielder Tyler Weiss batted .367 with five steals and North Marion’s Travis Smith hit .441 with two home runs to earn the honorable mention nod.
As for the rest of the first-team, the pitchers are Herbert Hoover’s Tristan Fields (8-0, 1.21 ERA, 76K), Fairmont Senior’s Mohr (7-1, 1.25 ERA) and Wyoming East’s Josh Zeboskey (8-1, 73K).
Robert C. Byrd’s Colton Bonnet batted .499 with nine doubles and 25 steals to earn the spot behind the dish.
Ravenswood’s Devon Crews batted .510 with nine home runs to lead all infielders. He is joined in the infield by Independence’s Wyatt Adkins (.486, 7 home runs, 10 steals), Sissonville’s Jacob Fisher (.471, 46 steals) and PikeView’s Austin Cordell.
Outfielders are Norman, Ritchie County’s Dylan Frye and Wayne’s Cody Stiltner (.453, 27 steals).
Filling the utility slots are Oak Glen’s Vincent Haddox (.475, three home runs), Poca’s Noah Frampton (.404, five home runs), Wyoming East’s Christian Hedinger (.564, 22 doubles) and Bridgeport’s Tyler Skidmore (.426, 36 RBI).
Infielder William Copley of Chapmanville was chosen as the captain of the second team. He’s joined in the infield by second-teamers Johnny Kesling (Fairmont Senior), Joe LaRocca (Bridgeport) and Heath Burgess (Ravenswood).
Sam Aloi (Bridgeport), Trey Dalton (Chapmanville) and Brian Sexton (Independence) were selected as second-team pitchers.
Sissonville’s Dominic Walker was picked as the second-team catcher.
Shawn Dotson (Herbert Hoover), Anthony Bonamico (Bridgeport) and Jake Payne (Poca) are the outfielders.
Rounding out the team are utility players Cody Bowen (Herbert Hoover), Tristan Thompson (Chapmanville), Andrew Hughart, (Independence) and Hunter White (Herbert Hoover).
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.