MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – JJ Wetherholt is not only the hottest hitter in WVU’s lineup, but in all of the Big 12 Conference.
When the game is on the line, he’s the one you want at the plate, and that’s the exact situation he found himself in on Friday afternoon against Xavier.
The game was knotted at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. With just one out and two runners on, Wetherholt only needed one pitch to leave his mark.
He drove in the winning run to seal the 5-4 victory in the series opener.
However, if Mazey didn’t make a change to the batting order on Thursday, the outcome may not have been the same.
Braden Barry has been West Virginia’s leadoff hitter this season with Wetherholt in the No. 2 spot. On Friday, the two traded places in the lineup.
“If he was hitting in the two-hole he wouldn’t have come up in that situation so that was a pretty big change in the lineup,” Mazey said. “We’re going to stick with it.”
Wetherholt said Mazey gave him the “heads up” on Thursday after practice that he would be moving to the top of the order.
Even though it wasn’t the spot he was used to as a Mountaineer, it is one he has plenty of familiarity with.
“I’ve hit leadoff since I was like six or seven years old all the way up to 14. Once I got to high school, my freshman year I worked up to the leadoff spot. After that I was kind of two or three through high school, so I haven’t done it in a while but I have before,” Wetherholt said. “I am pretty comfortable doing it, I just had to go back to some older memories.”
No matter the order, Wetherholt is confident in the one-two punch he and Barry bring to the lineup. He leads the team with 27 RBI while Barry has 18 and a team-high 27 runs.
Wetherholt leads the charge with 41 hits and Barry is second with 27. The duo also leads the team in stolen bases with a combined 32.
“We know we can really be a spark in the offense,” Wetherholt said. “We know one of us has to just get on and there’s a really good chance we score. Knowing that, takes the pressure off you at the plate.”
WVU looks to clinch the series on Saturday. Game two against Xavier is set for a 4 p.m. first pitch.