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OPINION

Book project, picking their schools and remembering Claude Ball

Mark Martin
Sportswriter

HE WROTE THE BOOK:

Zach Casto, the son of one-time Ripley High athlete Bryce Casto, is a book author at the young age of 25.

Casto’s first publication – “Rounding Third: Skills, Drills, and Best Practices in the Game of Baseball” – is out in an ebook format. Plans are for the book to eventually be available in hardcover.

For years, Casto has had a deep love for the game of baseball and it grows stronger by the day.

He played baseball at Nitro High School, where he graduated in 2014.

From there he was a part of the baseball program at West Virginia State University.

Casto launched his baseball coaching career at State and now works as an assistant at Nitro.

He is a teacher at Hurricane High School.

Casto’s father was a three-sport standout at Ripley before becoming a three-time All-West Virginia Conference lineman at West Virginia State, where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

Bryce Casto started his football coaching career at Ravenswood High School before moving on to State. He also coached at South Charleston High School and Nitro High School.

His 1994 South Charleston team won the Class AAA state championship.

Casto later served as athletic director and vice president at State. He is now the athletic director at South Charleston.

Zach’s late mother, Cathy, was a huge supporter of her son’s athletic and academic endeavors. She passed away last spring.

His late uncle, Jody Jividen, was one of state’s top sports writers for many years working for the Charleston Daily-Mail.

Our congrats to Zach on his first book.

HALL PASS: 

In a recent edition of Jackson Newspapers, we reported that Ripley football standout Kadin Hall is taking his talents to West Virginia State University.

Hall was a solid performer at running back and linebacker during his three years as a Viking.

He was a part of two teams that reached the Class AAA playoffs.

Hall shared with us about making State the choice to continue his academic and athletic careers.

“They gave me a personal tour like nobody else did when I went on other visits. And their coaches made me feel like I was wanted,” Hall said.

“The facilities and the campus are amazing. Also, it being close to home made the decision for me. It’s always been a dream of mine to play football in college.”

Hall said he will begin his time with the Yellow Jackets, who compete at the NCAA Division II level and are a member of the Mountain East Conference, on the offensive side of the football. 

DAVIS RULES: 

We also reported in a recent JN issue about another Ripley High senior, Davis Haynes, deciding to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College and play golf.

Haynes finished second in the West Virginia Radio Corporation’s annual awarding of a full four-year academic scholarship to attend Wesleyan.  

An excellent student with an above 4.0 average, Haynes, who made Class AAA All-State this past season in golf, noted that with academic and athletic scholarship money he will still eventually be on a full-ride at the Buckhannon-based school.

“I’ve always liked Wesleyan,” said Haynes, who raved about the school’s facilities for golf.

Haynes noted he can work on many aspects of his game, like putting and chipping, indoors. He said the weight room and locker room are outstanding.

Wesleyan practices at Stonewall Jackson Resort.

“That’s one of the best golf courses in West Virginia,” he said. “That will really help get me ready for tournaments.”

Haynes said he plans to major in history at Wesleyan with a minor in political science. His hope is to one day attend law school.

 REMEMBERING CLAUDE BALL:

 Sadly, I must pay tribute to another one of my youth coaches from yesteryear.

In the summers of 1972 and 1973, Claude Ball was one of my Little League baseball coaches. The memory bank overflows from those days with Claude and his Landfried Insurance teams.

A strong bond was formed with Claude during that time and continued all the many years that have followed.

Claude never aged. Every chance I had to visit with him was like talking to that man who coached me long ago. His calm demeanor was one of his greatest assets while coaching the youngsters of Ripley.

Besides coaching baseball teams, he was also very involved with youth football.

And there was no better worker for the Ripley High Athletic Boosters than Claude. He truly cared about the young people of Ripley.

Besides taking great pride in serving the youth of our country, Claude served his country in the Korean War with the U.S. Army.

He worked for several years at the aluminum plant in Jackson County.

While he was a native of Logan County, he became a Jackson Countian through and through.

It was many years into my adulthood before I could call him by his name. He was “Mr. Ball” to me for the longest time.

Claude was a great husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great grandfather, uncle, co-worker and friend.

He was a great man. As great as they come.

Claude Ball will be missed.