For the past two seasons Wahama and Trimble have been the top two baseball teams in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division, while Eastern and Southern have held the top two spots in softball. A preseason poll — conducted by the Ohio Valley Publishing sports department and voted on by a panel of eight sports writers that cover the nine-team league — indicates that 2016 will look a lot like the last two seasons.
The Trimble baseball team claimed the top spot in the poll with 63 points and two first place votes, while Wahama came in second with 58 points and five first place nods. The Tomcats and White Falcons shared the TVC Hocking title last year, each with 14-2 league records.
THS — which was second to the White Falcons in 2014 — has won two straight district titles. Wahama — which has won three league titles in five years since joining the conference — won its third-ever state championship last season, beating Man by a 7-0 count in the state final.
Wahama and Trimble split the regular season series last year, each team claiming victory at home.
Eastern — which finished third in the league last year with a 12-4 record — took third in the poll with 46 points. The Eagles went 15-7 overall last season and fell to the Tomcats in the district final. EHS last won the TVC Hocking in 2010, when it was still a six-team league.
Waterford and Southern — which finished fifth and seventh respectively in the league last season — tied for fourth in the poll with 44 points apiece. The Wildcats went 8-8 in the league last year, while Southern was 4-12. Waterford was the only team besides Wahama and Trimble to claimed a first place vote.
Belpre — which was fourth in the TVC Hocking last year with an 11-5 record — finished sixth in the poll with a point total of 42. The Golden Eagles have only finished better than fourth once since joining the Hocking Division in 2011, as BHS claimed second in its first year in the league.
Federal Hocking claimed seventh in the poll with a point total of 29, while Miller was eighth with 20 and South Gallia was ninth with 14.
The Lancers went from third in the league in 2014 to eighth last season with a 2-14 league mark. MHS — which finished eighth in the league in both 2013 and 2014 — claimed sixth last year with a 7-9 record. South Gallia has went 0-16 in the TVC Hocking for two consecutive seasons and has finished ninth for three straight years.
A total of 22 of the 36 All-TVC Hocking baseball first teamers from last season were underclassmen, but each team graduated at least one all-league performer.
The Eastern softball team has won at least a share of the TVC Hocking title for four straight seasons and the Lady Eagles are projected to make it five straight this season. EHS — which received half of the eight first place votes — finished with a total of 57 points. The Lady Eagles have were 20-3 last season, including 16-0 in the league games.
The Lady Tornadoes — who went 16-5 overall and 14-2 in the league last year — finished second in the poll with 54 points and one first place vote. Southern is the last TVC Hocking team to beat EHS and shared the 2014 league crown with the Lady Eagles. EHS and SHS were both ousted in the 2015 district semifinal.
Belpre — which finished third in the league last year with a 12-4 mark — took third in the poll with 49 points, while Waterford and Trimble tied for fourth with 45 points each. The Lady Wildcats — who received two first place votes — tied for sixth in the league last year with a 4-12 record, while THS went 9-7 in the league and finished fourth.
Wahama — which finished fifth in the league last year with an 8-8 mark — took sixth in the poll with 39 points and one first place vote. WHS advanced to the regionals last year and graduated just one senior.
Federal Hocking claimed seventh in the poll with 32 points, South Gallia was eighth with 29, while Miller was ninth with 10.
The Lady Lancers and Lady Rebels were tied for sixth with identical 4-12 records last year, while MHS was ninth with a 1-15 mark.
A total of 15 of the 34 TVC Hocking softball first teamers from last year were seniors, with each team graduating at least one all league performer.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.