MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Randy Mazey’s ballclub is just 10 days away from Opening Day of the 2023 college baseball season.
As the Mountaineers count down the days and hours until they see their first pitches against Georgia Southern, here are 10 facts about this year’s team to get you ready for this season.
1. West Virginia will play 31 road games and 24 games at home
This is a typical home-road split for teams in the northern half of the country. Fifteen of WVU’s first 25 games of the year will be played outside of Morgantown, including each of the team’s first 10 games. Click here to find a breakdown of the schedule and the key dates for this season.
2. Key returning hitters and position players
Redshirt senior infielder Tevin Tucker is back for another season. Tucker is the lead returning base stealer from last year’s record-setting group. Fellow redshirt senior, catcher Dayne Leonard, also returns after a successful first season in Morgantown. Talented sophomores JJ Wetherholt and Grant Hussey are back; Wetherholt earned All-Big 12 honors following his freshman campaign. Outfielder Braden Barrey, who caught on in the second half of the season last year, will be back in the lineup once again, as well.
3. Key returning pitchers
All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honorees Ben Hampton (LHP) and Noah Short (RHP) are back for another year. Hampton led the Mountaineers in wins (8) and innings pitched (83.0) last year. All-Big 12 Freshman team member Chris Sleeper (RHP) returns as well, as do junior Carlson Reed (RHP) and freshman Aidan Major (RHP).
4. Biggest departures from last year
West Virginia will be missing a couple of key bats and a few key arms from the 2022 roster. Outfielder Victor Scott II, and right-handed pitchers Jacob Watters and Trey Braithwaite were all selected in last summer’s MLB Draft. Right fielder Austin Davis and infielder/DH McGwire Holbrook both exited the program via the transfer portal.
5. Biggest offseason additions (freshmen only)
The 2023 recruiting class was ranked No. 34 in the country when it was announced. Here is a quick rundown of some of the biggest signings in the 2023 recruiting class.
- Carson Estridge (RHP – VA): Allowed 0 earned runs as a high school junior. Pitched on the U-18 Junior National Team.
- Cole Fehrman (LHP – PA): Number 7 left-handed pitcher in the state of Pennsylvania, according to Perfect Game.
- Alvin “Tre” Keels (INF/SS – VA): Named to the 2021 Preseason Underclass All-America First Team. Ranked as the No. 96 overall prospect in the country by Perfect Game. Rated as the No. 3 player in Virginia in his recruiting class.
- Logan Sauve (C – PA): Rated as the No. 1 catcher in Pennsylvania. The son of Jeff Sauve, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox, and also played football professionally as a kicker.
- Gavin Van Kempen (RHP – NY): Rated as the No. 280 player overall, according to Perfect Game. Also rated as the No. 7 player in New York.
- Sam White (C/INF – Canada): A member of the Canadian Junior National Team. Rated as the top third baseman in all of Ontario, Canada, according to Perfect Game. Could play either catcher or third with the Mountaineers.
6. Major League Baseball experience
West Virginia players will get some big league experience this year, as the team will play against the Arizona Diamondbacks in an exhibition later this month, and will also play inside MLB ballparks such as PNC Park and Globe Life Field.
7. Mazey Ball
Skipper Randy Mazey is entering his 11th season as head coach of the Mountaineer baseball team. Not only are the Mountaineers coming off a 2022 season in which they set a program record for wins in Big 12 play (14), but they also set a record for the most steals in any season in program history with 156.
8. Preseason expectations and regular season results
West Virginia was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 Preseason Poll. TCU and Oklahoma State are expected to be the two best teams in the conference this season, with Texas Tech and Texas picked to finish third and fourth, respectively. Since joining the league ahead of the 2013 season, WVU has finished fourth three times, fifth once, and sixth twice, including last year. The club has never finished last in the league.
9. Will history repeat itself?
Mazey’s group has developed a bit of a pattern since entering the Big 12, and if history repeats itself, West Virginia will likely be proving some doubters wrong this year. Starting with the 2013 season, the Mountaineers are averaging a fourth-place finish in the league standings once every three years (excluding the 2020 season, which was not completed). The team’s most recent fourth-place finish was in 2019, meaning if history does repeat itself, WVU is in line to finish in the top half of the league standings this season.
10. Opening Day
The Mountaineers begin the season on the road against Georgia Southern, which hosted an NCAA Regional tournament last year. First pitch on Opening Day – Thursday, Feb. 17 – is slated for 6:30 pm. ET from Statesboro. WVU will face the Eagles in a three-game series before taking on Maryland in a one-game mid-week matchup in College Park.