MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Last season the Mountaineers, quite literally, ran away with the stolen base crown in the Big 12.
West Virginia led all conference teams with 98 steals, 23 more than TCU in second place. Brandon White (26), Tyler Doanes (20) and Tevin Tucker (19) finished second, third and fourth in the conference’s leader in stolen bases. So many stolen bases helped WVU score 336 runs last season, an impressive mark for a team that only hit .261.
With a younger and more inexperienced lineup this season, head coach Randy Mazey said the Mountaineers will again be leaning on their team speed.
“If you play against the Mountaineers you’re going to have to control our speed because it just puts so much pressure on the defense,” Mazey said. “It changes the way people pitch to us. All of a sudden they’re slide-stepping and doing things they’re not used to. There’s going to be games we just have to flat-out try and win with our speed.”
In just four games this season, the Mountaineers have already stolen 14 bases, on 14 attempts. This includes stealing seven against Canisius in the home opener Tuesday evening. The Mountaineers did not steal seven bases in a single game in all of 2019, reaching six steals four times.
Tucker leads the team with five steals already, but six Mountaineers have at least one steal already. While it is a small sample size, at their current pace the Mountaineers would attempt 189 stolen bases in their 54-game season.
WVU’s speed also helps the team create extra-base hits from a lineup that does not feature many power hitters. West Virginia was third-last in the Big 12 last season with 49 home runs, but they came in fourth with 119 doubles. Darius Hill lead the league with 25 doubles and Doanes finished fourth with 21.
This season WVU has five doubles in its first four games, but the Mountaineers also already have four triples. The team hit only nine triples in all of 2019. Doanes and Hill lead the team with three triples each last year, but true freshman Victory Scott already has a pair of triples in 2020.
West Virginia opens up a four-games-in four-days stretch Friday against Kennesaw State at 3 p.m. The Mountaineers will be in South Carolina taking part in the Brittain Resorts Invitational. They will also play Saint Joseph’s, Illinois and Coastal Carolina.