By Gary Fauber Assistant Sports Editor
A LOT OF NEWNESS AS MINERS MAKE HOME DEBUT TONIGHT
Chris Jackson/The Register-HeraldWest Virginia Miners catcher Conor Grove throws the ball during practice Tuesday at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley.
It’s almost like it’s 2010 all over again.
That was when the West Virginia Miners were brand new, in their first year of existence as a Prospect League team. Everything was new, from the players on the roster to the teams that would be visiting Linda K. Epling Stadium to the stadium itself.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. home opener against the Jamestown Jammers will be old hat for most of the Miners staff. That doesn’t make it any less exciting.
And there is a lot of newness. For one, the roster is completely new – 28 players who were not with the team last season. Those 28 will call Beckley home for the next month and a half, and they need the community to show its support, manager Tim Epling says.
Plus, a roaring home crowd never hurts.
“(The season) is going to be very competitive and we will need every advantage we can get to reach the goals we have set,” Epling said.
Then, of course, there is the opponent.
Jamestown is one of two new teams in the Prospect League, the other being the Kokomo Jackrabbits. The Jammers have shifted gears after a 20-year run in the rookie-level New York-Penn League. The team relocated to Morgantown and became the West Virginia Black Bears.
Now, instead of being a point on the path professionals hope leads to the big leagues, Jamestown is a place for college prospects to catch the eyes of pro scouts — something that has happened 50 times at Epling Stadium since 2010.
“Jamestown comes in with new ownership. It’s going to be a challenge for us, as well as the whole league is concerned,” Epling said. “We are excited about them being a part of the league.”
The Miners opened the season Wednesday at reigning Eastern Division champion Chillicothe.
West Virginia and Jamestown will play a two-game series before the Richmond RiverRats come to town Saturday and Sunday.
Lowe’s will be the sponsor for tonight’s game. On Friday, Kroger will sponsor a canned food drive. Every can of food donated at the game will be matched by Kroger, up to 1,000.
Saturday will be the first Fireworks Night of the season. Fans will be treated to fireworks after the series opener against Richmond.
Sunday will be the season’s first Qdoba Kids Day. There will be coloring contests and bouncy houses in the Kids Zone, and all kids eat free at Qdoba on Sundays.
All Sunday home games will start at 2:05 p.m.