WHEELING - Many high school baseball players want to play collegiately. For many, it's difficult getting noticed.
That's where the OVAC's Baseball Showcase comes in.
For the past four years, Steve Wojcik and Perry West, along with a bevy of area high school and college coaches, have provided players in the bi-state conference with an opportunity to display their talents.
Bridgeport’s Bailey McGrath prepares to run the 60-meter dash during the OVAC Baseball Showcase on Tuesday night at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex. About 80 baseball players from the conference took part in the event, in its fourth year.
Tuesday evening's event at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex drew about 80 players, mostly upperclassmen, hoping to catch someone's eye.
Martins Ferry's Lucas Lloyd was one of them.
''I hope I can get some notice and show people what I can do,'' the senior-to-be said. ''I'm trying my hardest to find colleges that would be interested in me.''
Lloyd finished the season strong, helping the Purple Riders reach the OVAC Class 4A title game and an appearance in an Ohio Division III sectional final in Cambridge.
A crafty knuckleballer, Lloyd took the mound in Ferry's final two games of the season, including a stellar complete-game, 10-inning performance against Harrison Central.
Lloyd hopes efforts like that, in addition to workouts at events like the Showcase, will draw attention to his skills.
''I've gone to a showcase at Kent State and I've been to camp at West Liberty ... I've been to a lot of camps,'' Lloyd said. ''This is my first OVAC Showcase.
''Kent State told me they would, hopefully, stay in touch. They told me my knuckleball was nasty. A lot of time coaches say they don't want to recruit knuckleballers, so I just have to find the right coach and the right program that would want my kind of style.
''I want to do whatever makes me a better baseball player and whatever will benefit me the most.''
The participants took part in a variety of drills, according to Wojcik, that equaled a standard Major League workout. Coaches from Wheeling Jesuit, Bethany, West Liberty and Fairmont State helped judge some of the throwing drills.
Pitchers were able to have their pitches clocked with a radar gun.
''To me, this is a real benefit for them,'' Wojcik said. ''We used to just do a picture up at Vaccaro Field for the (OVAC) all-stars, but Perry came up with the idea for the Showcase. Everything has been really positive.''
Wheeling Jesuit University head baseball coach Terry Edwards applauded all those who participated for taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase their wares.
''It's really a nice service and even they put on for these guys,'' he said. ''Perry and Steve and the OVAC are doing an admirable service for the student-athletes in the Ohio Valley.
''As a coach, it's our responsibility to see what the event is all about and take advantage of it, too.''
Edwards not only has experienced showcase-type events as WJU's coach, but as a father and as head coach at Wheeling Central. He said the events have increased in number in recent years and have yielded results for he and many other coaches.
''Sometimes, you'll find a late bloomer or someone who's been overlooked,'' he said. ''It happens on every level.
''Baseball is notoriously a late-signing sport. Some are still looking for a place to continue their academic and athletic careers and, on more than one occasion, we have (at Wheeling Jesuit) found solid student-athletes and high-level players.''
Case in point, Jordan Kraus, who, Edwards pointed out, started four years at shortstop for him and now is his graduate assistant coach.
''I really hope that anyone who is invited or has an opportunity to attend anything like this takes advantage of it,'' he said.
Thorp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org