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NEW RICHMOND - Chances are, Eric Hosier wouldn't know how to approach a baseball game without putting on the catcher's gear.

After all, that's all he has ever done.

Hoosier, a four-year starter at catcher for Wyoming East, will have the opportunity to continue strapping on the shin guards, chest protector and face mask for four more years.

Five days after his graduation from Wyoming East, Hoosier signed his national letter of intent to play baseball at WVU Tech in Beckley.

"It's a good school first off," Hoosier said. "I love the coaching staff. It's a great group of people there. They are going to give me an opportunity to play next year. I'm very grateful for it."

WVU Tech coach Lawrence Nesselrodt said there would, indeed, be playing time for Hoosier, who hit .473 for the Warriors (35-74).

"We have a couple of guys who have been in the program, but the competition is what makes guys great," said Nesselrot, who came up through the ranks under legendary West Virginia State coach Cal Bailey. "He's going to have a chance to learn, grow and go through the process. He's going to see time, there's no question about it. We have eight weeks in the fall when we play fall baseball. He'll have an opportunity and if he's ready he'll be in the lineup come spring time."

Hoosier said he can't remember baseball without the catcher's gear.

"I started when I was playing T-ball," Hosier said. "I just stuck with it. I learned to love it and I kept it going. It takes a toll on your knees, there's no doubt about it."

Long-time Wyoming East coach Ron "Chief" Mayhew put him in the lineup and Hoosier never left.

"He is a quality player and a quality person," Mayhew said. "He's been a rock for us behind the plate and he won't be easy to replace. Tech got themselves a good catcher."

He will also be able to hone his craft with the guidance of Joe Goddard, a Slab Fork native who in the early 1970s played professionally for the San Diego Padres and assists Nesselrodt.

"There's no question that Joe individualizes his teaching, that's what baseball is all about," Nesselrodt said. "There's no two guys who swing the same way, throw the same way or catch the same way. Joe has a great ability to adapt to the individual, what their needs are, what their strengths are. Eric is going to benefit from just the nuances of the game, the small adjustments you make as far as thinking and the physical side as well."

Hoosier said his highlight was a home run hit in the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 tournament against Independence, a tournament in which the Warriors had to win four straight elimination games before finally falling to No. 1 seed Oak Hill in a second playoff game. It was his only career long-ball, but he proved to be a leader in the area in doubles, with 14.

He also scored 31 runs this past spring and drove in 27.

Nesselrodt said he became aware of Hoosier when he attended an Independence-Wyoming East game.

"We followed up on him and he certainly was receptive and we are excited that he is excited about WVU Tech. He's just an outstanding player, but what I found out today was, my goodness, he's an outstanding person."

"This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," Hoosier said. "My goal is to get bigger and stronger and faster and help the team anyway I can. I'm just really excited I can keep playing as a member of the WVU Tech program."

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