ROMNEY, W.Va. — Hampshire’s Josh Crawford, unbeatable on the mound and nearly unstoppable at the plate in leading the most successful baseball team in school history, was voted the Skip Cook Memorial High School Baseball Player of the Year by area head coaches.
The award caps a record-setting season of firsts for the Hampshire baseball team, which broke school records for most wins and best single-season record and won the Times-News area and Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference championships for the first time.
Crawford is the first Hampshire baseball player to be voted the player of the year.
“Josh is a great kid who loves baseball. He truly does,’’ said Hampshire coach Chad Van Meter. “Having him be voted the player of the year is great for him and will be great for our program.”
Crawford will receive the award, named in memory of the late Keyser High head coach, at the Dapper Dan Awards Banquet in January.
Crawford, a senior pitcher and first baseman who had a 7-0 record as a pitcher and a .519 batting average, repeated as a member of the All-Area first team. He had earlier been named the AMAC’s player of the year and was honorable mention Class AAA All-State.
Area leaders are listed in today’s Scoreboard page.
“Josh was one of the players on our team council and was very important to our team. He was a great leader by example,’’ said Van Meter. “He was in the weight room all fall and all winter long and was constantly trying to make himself better.”
Unfortunately, for opposing teams, he did.
On the mound, Crawford went 7-0 with one save, three complete games and a 2.07 earned run average. He struck out 35 in 47 1-3 innings and opposing hitters managed just a .227 batting average against him.
“Josh isn’t an overpowering pitcher. He relied on location and he’s got pinpoint location,” Van Meter said. “He kept the ball down and on the outer half, and it had a lot of movement on it. He mixed his breaking ball and kept batters off-balance. He didn’t strike out a whole lot of hitters but he got a lot of outs.”
“Probably the biggest game he pitched was the regional semifinal against Buckhannon. He pitched a great game, gave up only one run and hitters kept beating the ball into the ground,” Van Meter added. “I think they only got two or three hits that game and it propelled us into the regional final.”
It didn’t come as a surprise to Van Meter. He saw all this coming during Crawford’s earlier years on the team. Crawford pitched for four years, played first base for three years and saw some time as a designated hitter as a freshman.
“As a sophomore, during our trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., he won a 1-0 game with a one-hitter and never allowed a runner past second base,’’ Van Meter recalled. “He struck out two and did not walk a batter. He just kept putting the ball on the corner and they kept hitting ground ball after ground ball.
“It was impressive, especially for a sophomore. I think that was a glimpse of what was to come. That’s when I knew he would be a very good pitcher for us.”
At the plate, Crawford hit .519 with 42 hits in 81 at-bats, with 14 doubles, one home run and 34 RBIs. He also drew 25 bases on balls and had a .647 on-base percentage and a .728 slugging percentage.
“Josh is a gap hitter and hits to all fields. He’s just a very good baseball hitter,” Van Meter said. “He didn’t have a lot of infield hits, but he had a ton of clean, line drive hits.”
He led the area in doubles, ranked fourth in batting average and was eighth in RBIs. He was third in pitching victories and ninth in ERA.
Crawford plans to continue his baseball career in the fall at Potomac State College.
Area head coaches were asked to nominate players from their teams to appear on an All-Area ballot, then voted for the player of the year and All-Area team from a completed ballot.
Fifteen coaches nominated players and 13 returned ballots. Others receiving player of the year votes were Josh Van Meter of Mountain Ridge, Matt Maiers and Shane Ennis of Hampshire, Matt Oleksik of Allegany and Justin Swogger of Calvary Christian.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org