When the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame inducts and enshrines its Class of 2020 this June, one can bet Jackson County’s contingent will be a “hit” with those in attendance…literally.
One of Jackson County’s chosen ones was a hit on the football field.
He was known for big hits as a linebacker and wasn’t afraid to dish out hits as an offensive lineman during his playing days.
Another upcoming inductee was a hit on the court.
He is well-remembered for being able to hit shot after shot – usually from long range.
And then there is the other soon-to-be-inductee who was a hit on the diamond.
He simply hit the cover off of baseballs during his playing days.
The three who will represent Jackson County during the 23rd annual Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame weekend are James Abshire, Chase Fischer, and Josh Miller.
• Abshire, a 1973 Ripley High graduate, is considered to be as good as anyone to ever put on a Ripley uniform.
A three-year starter on both sides of the football while a Viking, Abshire established himself as a durable player.
He was a rock-solid linebacker who dished out bone-jarring hits and collected tackles like some do socks.
Abshire also manned the all-important center position on offense. He was a vital cog in helping open holes for Ripley’s running backs during that three-year span.
After his senior season of football, Abshire was chosen a Class AAA First Team All-State center.
While at Ripley, Abshire was also a solid contributor on the basketball court.
Abshire garnered Ripley High School’s prestigious Athlete of the Year award in the spring of 1973.
Following high school, Abshire took his football talents to West Virginia State College (now University).
He was a four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets and twice earned First Team All-WVIAC (West Virginia Conference) honors as a junior and senior in the seasons of 1975 and 1976.
“Abby,” as he was affectionately known, was a Second Team NAIA All-America pick in 1976.
He still holds the West Virginia State football single-season record for tackles with 165, which he produced in the 1975 season.
Its hard to fathom, but Abshire played both ways at linebacker and center in several games during his college career.
Following his college days, Abshire entered the teaching and coaching profession.
He was the architect of some dynamite defenses for the Poca High School football program.
Abshire was instrumental in helping the Dots, of head coach Bob Lemley, win a Class AA state football championship in 1994, the first year in which championship games were staged at Wheeling Island Stadium.
In 2001, he was once again engineering the defense which would lead to another state title.
Abshire left Poca football after the 2001 season but had certainly left his imprint. The Dots also won the AA state crown in 2002 and 2003.
He also helped lead the Dots to a runner-up finish in the AA state championship game of 1996 against East Bank.
He was with the program for a total of 12 seasons.
Abshire also had two different coaching stints at Ripley under head coaches Frank Marino and David Tennant.
• Quite simply, Fischer was a scoring machine for Ripley basketball during his playing days.
A four-year starter, Fischer played at Ripley High School starting in the 2007-08 season.
By the time he finished his career in the 2010-11 season, Fischer had emerged as Ripley High School’s all-time scoring leader with 2,210 points.
As a junior and senior, Fischer led the state of West Virginia in scoring by averaging 32 points and 37 points, respectively.
In the first game of his senior year, Fischer broke the school’s single-game scoring record by pumping in 58 against St. Albans. The previous mark of 53 was held by the late Mike Ludwig.
Fischer enjoyed a decorated career.
As a senior, he was a First Team Parade All-America selection.
In his senior year he also earned the Bill Evans Award as the West Virginia High School Player of the Year and picked up the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award.
Fischer was twice named Class AAA First Team All-State while at Ripley. He was captain of the All-State squad his senior year.
In his first two years at Ripley, Fischer had the pleasure of playing alongside older brother Noah, who also was First Team All-State pick.
Fischer’s 2,210 career points ranks him 10th on the state of West Virginia’s all-time scoring list.
After high school, Fischer headed off to Wake Forest University.
Playing in the highly-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, Fischer started several games during his career at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based school. He appeared in 62 games over two seasons for the Demon Deacons.
He chose to transfer following his sophomore season at Wake.
Fischer took a leap and headed to Provo, Utah to play at Brigham Young University in the Mountain West Conference.
After sitting out the 2013-14 season, Fischer’s college career took off.
As a junior, he averaged 16 points per game as a full-time starter. He quickly became a fan favorite with his deadly 3-pointers.
In a game against Chaminade at the Maui Invitational, Fischer set a school record with 10 shots from behind the 3-point line.
He helped lead the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament that season. He scored 23 points in a tournament game against Ole Miss.
As a senior he led the team in scoring, averaging 18 a game.
He scored 41 points against New Mexico that season during the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Fischer’s collegiate career closed with an appearance by the Cougars in the Final Four of the National Invitational Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The former Viking played a huge role in BYU reaching that stage with games of 27, 24 and 15 along the way.
Fischer had a tryout with the NBA’s Utah Jazz following his BYU career and then spent part of a season playing basketball overseas before returning to the United States.
He is presently working as a real estate agent in Englewood, Florida.
• Miller made his mark on the college scene at West Virginia State.
The former three-sport Ravenswood High standout earned First Team All-America honors as an outfielder on the 2007 ABCA/Rawlings Division II Baseball Team and the 2007 Daktronics Division II Baseball Team.
Both honors came as he finished up a phenomenal four-year career at State, under the legendary Cal Bailey, who started his teaching and coaching career in Jackson County.
In his final year with the program, Miller led the West Virginia Conference with a .451 batting average and was also tops in runs batted in with 63. He was second in home runs with 16.
Those numbers earned Miller the WVIAC Player of the Year Award and Hitter of the Year Award along with being selected First Team All-Conference.
He went on to be named the North Atlantic Region “Player of the Year” followed by his selection to the two All-America squads.
Miller was instrumental in leading State to the West Virginia Conference tournament championship and earning a berth in the North Atlantic Region tournament his senior year.
As a sophomore, Miller was a vital cog in helping State reach the North Atlantic regional title, thus, earning the program a spot in the NCAA Division II World Series.
After his days at State, Miller played two seasons of professional baseball in the Frontier League.
While at Ravenswood, Miller, a 2003 graduate, was a four-year starter in baseball. He was selected Class AA First Team All-State in both his junior and senior seasons. He was the captain of the 2003 All-State squad his senior year.
In addition to baseball, Miller was a three-year starter in football as a running back, slot receiver and defensive back and also garnered Class AA First Team honors in his final two seasons.
Miller is the school’s all-time leader for receptions in a season (92) and a game (nine). He’s also first in career interceptions (22). Miller is tied for the top spot in interceptions over the course of the season with nine, which he did not once, but twice.
He was also a solid contributor to the Runnin’ Red Devil basketball program.
While in high school, Miller competed in the West Virginia Class AA football playoffs and the West Virginia High School Boys State Basketball Tournament on two occasions.
Miller is currently serving his second term as mayor of Ravenswood. He also works for the State Treasury’s office as well as producing documentaries.
Abshire, Fischer and Miller will be inducted on the evening of June 13 at the Grand Pointe Conference and Reception Center in Vienna. The enshrinement and plaque unveiling will take place the following day, June 14, at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame includes the West Virginia counties of Jackson, Wirt, Wood, Pleasants and Ritchie along with the Ohio Counties of Washington and Nobel.
Its purpose is to recognize athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and media members who have made significant contributions at the city, county, state, national or international level.
In addition, it honors those who have performed meritorious service for athletics in the seven counties.
This year’s 10-member class will also include Paul Page (Wood), a winner of more than 1,000 games as a head baseball coach on the collegiate level, Maggie Drazba (Pleasants), a star distance runner at both St. Marys and WVU, Jon Shuler (Washington), a standout three-sport athlete at Marietta High School, record-setting quarterback and star baseball player at Marietta College, Tyler Engle (Washington), a phenomenal three-sport athlete at Fort Frye High School and four-year Ohio State baseball player, Shane Smith (Wood), a three-time First Team All-State football and baseball player at Williamstown, a three-time state champion wrestler and two-time state track and field champion, Dail Harper (Nobel), a former track and field star at Kent State and Mary Lopez (Wood), considered one of Parkersburg Catholic’s all-time greatest who became a star basketball player at Marshall, where she was the first in school history to score 1,000 points.