Kyle Allard baseball column

West Fairmont's Kyle Allard (7) takes the throw at second base as East Fairmont's Nick Bonnett (16) slides in safely.

Kyle Allard had pretty much everything going for him during his senior season.

West Fairmont’s two-sport standout got off to a hot start in the fall, leading the Polar Bear football team to the Class AAA state semifinals and a 10-3 record.

Allard’s success was well-documented during that run, and the versatile quarterback rewrote the record book with his arm and legs.

All of this translated into being named the first-team, all-state captain and Kennedy Award winner, which goes to the state’s top football player. Allard is only the second Polar Bear to ever receive such an honor.

During the winter sports season, Allard signed his letter of intent to play both football and baseball at West Virginia Wesleyan.

And when the spring sports season finally approached, Allard looked to carry his momentum gained in football to the baseball diamond.

The Polar Bears were coming off a fourth straight state playoff appearance, but without a state championship and with three state runner-up trophies.

With sights set on a fifth consecutive berth to Charleston in June, Allard left West’s second game of the season with a pulled left hamstring.

Instead of being on the field helping his teammates win games, Allard was left with no other option but to become a vocal leader while getting healthy.

“It’s definitely frustrating sitting on the bench and not being able to help the team, especially when people are struggling,” Allard said. “Usually, I like to lead by how I play on the field and kind of just let people follow my lead.

“But sitting on the bench, you have to be vocal and keep guys’ heads up when they make mistakes. You have to keep cheering them on and telling them to make the next play.”

Allard has played in just nine of West’s 20 games this season, but he is one of five starters who have been injured. That’s been a large part in the Polar Bears’ 8-12 record.

The senior center fielder and right-handed pitcher has only 25 at-bats, hitting safely six times for an un-Allard-like .240 average. Allard is also 3-for-19 in limited action since injuring his hamstring, and he has yet to steal a base this spring.

“I feel for him,” longtime head coach Steve Naternicola said. “He’s busted his butt to be ready for his senior year, and then a hamstring is holding him back.

“It’s just been tough on him. And I think he’s trying too hard right now because he wants to be healthy.”

This baseball season has been unlike any other for Allard, who usually plays more innings than anyone else for the Polar Bears.

Allard is used to being on the field before, during and after games. For the most part this season, Allard has been stuck in the dugout as a spectator and cheerleader.

Let’s just say, that’s something Allard is not comfortable with because he doesn’t feel like he can help the team as much. But his hamstring is improving every day, and Allard is gaining more playing time because of it.

“I feel like it’s my job to be a leader, but I’ve only been able to show vocal leadership. The seniors have done a good job on the field while I’ve been out,” he said. “Really, I’m glad I can get back out there, play, and support the team. I feel like I’m ready to play in the field, but coach is still being cautious.”

Allard knows the West is short-handed right now and has been for most of the season.

The Polar Bears’ losing record could lead many to believe that they are no longer a threat to do much in the postseason.

But Allard and Co. are still holding out hope that if everyone gets healthy by the time sectionals begin, West will be a team to watch.

“It’s definitely one of the most frustrating things. But we all realize that toward the end, if we’re winning, then that’s all the counts,” Allard said. “I think we’re just looking to build a little run toward the end of the season, carry that into the playoffs, and hopefully get down to the state tournament again.”

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

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