MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Randy Mazey’s ball club will return to Morgantown Sunday night riding high. The Mountaineers have won nine straight games, and the offense is putting runs on the board at a blistering pace.
During its three-game series against UNC Greensboro, the Mountaineers scored 40 runs in 27 innings. Over the past week, WVU has tallied a total of 76 runs across five games (or 45 innings if you want to keep track of it that way.)
Off to a 15-4 start, this group of WVU ballplayers is doing things not seen on the diamond by the Mountaineers in some time.
Starting with the run production, West Virginia scored at least 18 runs three times over the past five games (18 twice versus Appalachian State, and 28 once against UNCG). No WVU team has tallied 18 runs thrice over a five-game stretch this century. The last time the Mountaineers scored 18 or more runs on at least three occasions in a full season was in 2010 when they scored at least 18 runs four times.
Backing up a few games, Mazey’s lineup also tallied 15 runs against Minnesota on March 10. That means WVU has scored 15 or more runs in a game four times this month. For context, last year’s West Virginia team did that five times all season. The four previous teams before that managed to do so just four times total (including the shortened 2020 season).
Leading the way at the plate this season is JJ Wetherholt. The sophomore infielder leads the Big 12 Conference with a .462 batting average through 19 games played. He ranks second in the league in hits and doubles, and fourth in RBI. His slash line of .462/.527/.795 is impressive, to say the least.
Just how good is Wetherholt’s average thus far?
Only seven WVU hitters have finished a season with a batting average of .400 or better since 2000. The great Jedd Gyorko is the only player in program history to finish two seasons hitting at a clip of .400 or better. However, no WVU hitter has finished a season with a batting average higher than .440 since World War II – and no hitter in program history has batted better than .439 with more than 100 at-bats in a season.
In short, Wetherholt is currently on a historic pace.
With Wetherholt leading the charge at the dish, the Mountaineers have won 15 of their opening 19 games.
The 15-4 record thus far is the program’s best start since joining the Big 12. Looking at WVU’s two most-recent trips to the NCAA Tournament, the 2019 team won just five games before suffering its fifth loss, and the 2017 group collected only seven wins before taking its fifth defeat.
Overall, this is the best start to a season, in terms of win-loss record, by a Mountaineer baseball team since 2008. That year, Greg Van Zant’s crew started 19-4, aided by an 11-game winning streak. That team, however, missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite a 35-21 record.
This year, Mazey’s team has won each of its last nine contests. None of those nine wins were decided by fewer than three runs.
The Mountaineers return home to host Hoftra (6-12) for two games, beginning Tuesday. After that, they host Xavier (10-9) for three games, and then host Marshall (9-8) before beginning Big 12 play at Kansas State (13-7).