RIPLEY - Three of our last four U.S. Presidents are left-handed. Jimi Hendrix brought his science fiction inspired guitar work from the left side. Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the renaissance humanist ideal - was indeed a southpaw.

Studies have shown that left handed people tend to be more creative and possess superior problem solving skills while producing positive results while working under pressure.

Ripley High School baseball coach Shane Casto is just fine with that. After all, he realizes the unique situation that has presented itself early in Viking baseball practices.

“If we were to take the field right now, our three-man starting rotation would be McCoy, Berry and Bumpus. That order is not based on perceived talent but on how they pitch. We have other strong candidates fighting for a spot so this could change on a dime.”

One would be hard pressed to find another “all lefty” three-man pitching rotation in West Virginia prep baseball in 2014.

“I haven’t seen it very often over the years that I have been playing and coaching,” said Casto.
The talented trio appear to be different in make-up and attitudes towards pitching. McCoy and Berry are New York Yankee fans while Bumpus follows the Cincinnati Reds. On a similar note, they study left handed pitching on their own.

 Logan McCoy is wise beyond his years of 15. As a freshman last season, he stymied Riverside High for seven no-hit innings in a Region 3 Section 4 game at Ray Swisher Field at Viking Park. Ripley lost in extra innings but the young gun slinger certainly did his part to keep his team in position to win the game. McCoy defeated a good Parkersburg team on the road and dusted Capital in a 7-0 sectional shutout. “I work really hard at hitting my spots,” said McCoy. “Coach (Frankie) Cummings has really helped me develop my change up.”

Junior Easton Berry also boots field goals for the football team and lends his talents to the Viking soccer squad. Berry is outspoken and has a keen sense of humor that is infectious. The hurler showed moments of dominance. He gave then top five-ranked Huntington all they could handle in a six-inning performance where he fanned six and gave up just one earned run. The southpaw took down Poca in a Mountain State Athletic Conference placement game and has a plus curveball that falls off of the table. “Coach Cummings has taught me so much about pitching. He and Coach Casto spend a lot of time not just coaching the game to us but talking about baseball.”

For the pitcher Viking faithful know as “Bump”, Jared Bumpus established himself early in his freshman season. Bumpus takes a cerebral approach to the mound. He relies on location a good yakker (curve) to set up his opponents. Like his pitching partners, he spent time in the weight room and has added weight to his frame. “Coach Cummings has helped me get more velocity on my pitches. I feel stronger and I think that is going to help me this season.” Bumpus threw a complete game gem against Sissonville last season, good for a 3-1 Viking victory over a talented Indians program.

One common thread that runs through the three hurlers is the mention of Ripley pitching coach Frankie Cummings’ influence on them. Cummings is a Viking Baseball Hall of Famer and after a stellar career at West Virginia State University, was signed by the Atlanta Braves and saw success in the minor leagues before a health related issue caused him to walk away from the game.

“I can’t tell you what it means to have him here on our staff. You can’t put a price on his wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Casto.

With talented defenders behind them like shortstop Christopher Jordan, who likely will serve as the team’s closer, the trio are confident in their teammates.

“I think our team is improved in many areas including defense. I know when I am pitching that I can count on the guys behind me,” said McCoy, who relies on keeping the ball low and inducing ground ball outs.
The squad finished (14-18) last season and the trio feel that improvement is right around the corner.
“I think that we will be a better team. Coach Casto preaches a family atmosphere free of cliques within the team. I think we are closer now,” said Berry.

When it comes to the Vikings finding a way to win in 2014, no rock will be left unturned.