BRIDGEPORT — Joe LaRocca embraced the expectations upon himself and Bridgeport prior to the 2015 season.
In 2014, LaRocca was a key member of the Indians’ Class AA state championship team while batting second, and he earned second-team all-state honors.
In his senior campaign, however, LaRocca knew he’d have to elevate his game to an entirely new level if Bridgeport was to repeat for the first time in program history.
The third baseman did just that, making a smooth transition to the No. 3 spot in the order and leading the Indians to another state championship along the way.
For his efforts, LaRocca captains the Class AA all-state team, as selected by the West Virginia Sportswriter’s Association with assistance from the state’s coaches.
“I feel like I did the best that I could this year,” LaRocca said. “I went all out in my last year and just tried to go out with a bang. The emotions are crazy. I’m happy with myself. The accomplishments I’ve made show that hard work really does pay off.”
LaRocca finished with a .444 batting average and led the team with 55 runs, 43 RBIs, 14 doubles, six home runs and 13 stolen bases.
He belted two doubles last Saturday in the Indians’ title-clinching 5-0 win against Chapmanville. Bridgeport finished 37-3, securing its best single-season record in school history.
“Throughout the season, I just stayed relaxed,” LaRocca said. “I knew I had it in me and had worked hard in the offseason because a lot was expected of me. I came in and just tried to help my team as best I could and tried to play every game like it was my last.”
Two of LaRocca’s teammates — catcher Hunter Fain and pitcher Hunter Haddix — join him on the first team.
Fain finished with a .438 average, 40 RBIs, 12 doubles and four home runs. He connected for three doubles and drove in four runs in the Indians’ semifinal win over PikeView. Haddix went 10-0 in 50 innings pitched. He had 47 strikeouts, nine walks and allowed 42 hits and 19 total runs.
Haddix is joined by two other pitchers who saw action at the state tournament in PikeView’s Levi Nash and Chapmanville’s Trey Dalton. Nash was 10-1 with a 1.02 earned run average in 75 1/3 innings. He had 96 strikeouts. Dalton was also 10-1 with 93 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. He registered a 1.85 ERA.
Joining LaRocca as first-team infielders are: Liberty-Raleigh’s Dylan Keel (.500 avg., nine HRs, 12 doubles, 37 RBIs, 44 runs), PikeView’s Jon Clark (.451, 33 RBIs, 39 runs, nine doubles, three triples) and Frankfort’s Gage Shaffer (.455, 37 RBIs, 14 doubles, three HRs).
Independence joins the Panthers as the only team with two first-team selections.
The Patriots are represented by outfielder Chris Mills and utility selection Andrue Hughart. Mills hit .422 with six home runs, 31 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. Hughart, meanwhile, was 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 57 innings. He also had a .347 batting average, 28 RBIs and 10 doubles.
Grafton’s Zach Musgrove and Oak Glen’s Zach O’Brien form the outfield with Mills. Musgrove hit .519 with six home runs, eight doubles, 31 RBIs and 37 runs.
The first-team is rounded out by three other utility selections in Sissonville’s Josh Landis, Roane County’s Eli Kucherawy and Wayne’s Kodie Bowen. Landis had impressive hitting numbers (.435, four HRs, nine doubles, 26 RBIs, 35 runs) to go with a 2.96 ERA in 28 1/3 innings pitched.
Kucherawy had a 1.79 ERA, 118 strikeouts and a 9-4 record in 86 innings. He also hit .333 with 10 doubles and 31 RBIs.
Bowen was 8-2 with 70 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA in 58 1/3 innings on the mound, and he had eight doubles and 19 RBIs at the plate.
Chapmanville’s Tristan Thompson is the second-team captain.
Austin Ellis and Chris Bailey of Chapmanville were voted Special Honorable Mention All-State. Alex Berry was honorable mention.
Class AA All-State
HUNTINGTON — The 2015 Class AA Baseball All-State Team, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
P — Trey Dalton, Chapmanville, Sr.
P — Hunter Haddix, Bridgeport, Jr.
P — Levi Nash, PikeView, Jr.
C — Hunter Fain, Bridgeport, Sr.
IF — Joe LaRocca, Bridgeport, Sr. (capt.)
IF — Dylan Keel, Liberty-Raleigh, Sr.
IF — Jon Clark, PikeView, Sr.
IF — Gage Shaffer, Frankfort, Sr.
OF — Chris Mills, Independence, Jr.
OF — Zach Musgrove, Grafton, Jr.
OF — Zach O’Brien, Oak Glen, Jr.
UTIL — Josh Landis, Sissonville, Jr.
UTIL — Andrew Hughart, Independence, Sr.
UTIL — Eli Kucherawy, Roane County, Sr.
UTIL — Kodie Bowen, Wayne, Sr.
P — Dakota McCloud, Wayne, So.
P — Jared Cleghorn, Bridgeport, Jr.
P — J.R. Stricklen, Sissonville, Sr.
C — Cooper Osborne, Clay County, Jr.
IF — A.K. Snyder, Lincoln, Jr.
IF — Austin Cordell, PikeView, Sr.
IF — Dante Bonamico, Bridgeport, Jr.
IF — Ryan Ricer, Fairmont Senior, Jr.
OF — Matthew Combs, Petersburg, Sr.
OF — Dalton Michael, East Fairmont, Jr.
OF — Logan Robinette, Keyser, Sr.
UTIL — Matt Justice, Herbert Hoover, Jr.
UTIL — Tristan Thompson, Chapmanville, Jr. (capt.)
UTIL— Jake Lacek, Liberty-Raleigh, Sr.
UTIL — Brandon Fazalare, Lincoln, Sr.
Special honorable mention
Elijah Drummond, Bridgeport; Alex Banko, Robert C. Byrd; Matt Chandler, Poca; Shaun Dotson, Herbert Hoover; Austin Ellis, Chapmanville; Joe Dodrill, Bridgeport; Bo Drummond, Liberty Harrison; Jacob Fisher, Sissonville; Frank Spadafore, Lincoln; Justice Keener, Grafton; Houston Morris, Bridgeport; Cole Collins, Grafton; Sean Curtis, Philip Barbour; Ty Wickline, Liberty Harrison; Chris Bailey, Chapmanville; Cody Noe, Wayne; Brandon George, Petersburg; Ross Conley, Frankfort; Hunter Thompson, Roane County; Seth Backus, Braxton County; Orlando Burgy, Ritchie County; Drew Kinder, Roane County; Chase Swain, Ravenswood; Josh Smith, Summers County; Logan Smith, Independence; Jordan Atkins, Liberty Raleigh; David Powers, Wyoming East; Matt Ryan, Summers County; Jacob Harmon, PikeView.
Logan Smith, Bridgeport; Joe Loretta, Robert C. Byrd; Broderick Lantz, Liberty; Kobie Carpenter, Lincoln; Isaac Crow, Ravenswood; Trenton Begley, Liberty Raleigh; Jon Culicerto, Wyoming East; Sammy Aloi, Bridgeport; Tre Junkins, Robert C. Byrd; Chase Riley, Lincoln; Seth Wright, Grafton; Dylan Harris, Philip Barbour; Alex Berry, Chapmanville; Trent Borror, Petersburg; Austin Henrich, Poca; Braiden Popluhar, Frankfort; Seth Cottrill, Ritchie County; Jacob Lively, Summers County; Logan Stump, Independence; Carter Shrewsbury, PikeView; Jacob Dulcie, Wyoming East.