West Virginia’s JJ Wetherholt on Game-Winning Steal, Winning Player of the Week
West Virginia second baseman JJ Wetherholt won his first Big 12 Player of the Week award Monday for his game breaking efforts against Maryland and Arizona. Wetherholt hit a pair of home runs and scored the game winning run on Friday with an 11th inning steal of home (one of eight bases he swiped last week), all while batting .529.
Inside the Steal
Wetherholt said he noticed a hitch in Arizona pitcher Trevor Long’s delivery that would give him a chance to steal home.
“Whenever [Long] came set he kinda looked at the ground for a couple seconds,” Wetherholt said. “It really wasn’t a lot, but it was just enough to where we kinda considered doing it.”
Wetherholt said that Mountaineers third base coach Steve Sabins noticed it too and tipped off head coach Randy Mazey. Mazey gave them the green light to try it, and Wetherholt dashed home with two strikes and two outs.
“I think with two strikes was like the perfect opportunity just because [with another] strike the inning’s over and there goes the scoring threat…why not just try to get something going now?” Wetherholt said. “[I] waited for him to come set and look down, where he’s not looking at me, and just [went to] catch him off guard.”
Wetherholt said another reason for his aggressive baserunning came from the Mountaineers’ schedule. Because they hardly play PAC 12 teams, much less Arizona specifically, the Wildcats weren’t ready for the bag swiping onslaught.
“It definitely works for a team like Arizona because they’re not really used to it, they don’t play us,” Wetherholt said. “They might have the word that we might steal a little bit but they’re definitely not expecting some of the crazy stuff that we do on the bases.”
Despite his role in the win and the honor he received for it, Wetherholt emphasized the importance of staying grounded. Baseball will humble you if you get caught in the moment.
“It’s definitely a super cool experience, to play a big game like that and get the win is huge…you can get super emotional and caught up,” Wetherholt said. “I think one of the biggest things was when I got back to the hotel room, [I] was going through my nightly preparation for the next day.”
It was all business for Wetherholt after allowing himself a brief moment in the sun.
“It’s kinda when I had to flip the page and stop thinking about what happened that day, and stop feeling good about myself,” Wetherholt said. “Because going into the next game it didn’t really matter. You just had to show up again and do it all over.”