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WVU Baseball Prepares for New Look Lineup in 2024



WVU Baseball Tevin Tucker celebrating

WVU Baseball enters the 2024 season with some of the highest expectations in program history. Although they lost more than half of the everyday starters on last year’s team that won a share of the Big 12 regular season championship to the transfer portal and graduation, the Mountaineers return shortstop JJ Wetherholt, the likely first overall pick in this year’s MLB Entry Draft, leading the nation with a .449 batting average in 2023.

The media frenzy surrounding Wetherholt and the high expectations for head coach Randy Mazey’s swan song helped the Mountaineers set a program record, selling season tickets for more than 40 percent of the seats at the Monongalia County Ballpark.

With the 2024 season beginning on Friday, February 16, attention turns to whether WVU Baseball can live up to the lofty expectations placed in front of them with a team full of new faces.

New Look Lineup

The Mountaineers lost four of their five top base stealers in 2023 to Major League Baseball. While they still have Wetherholt, who paced the team with 36 steals, shortstop Tevin Tucker and outfielders Braden Barry, Landon Wallace and Caleb McNeely accounted for 77 steals together, nearly 60 percent of the team’s total last season.

Randy Mazey’s time with WVU Baseball has been defined by his ‘Mazeyball’ style that prioritizes aggressive baserunning, but even he admitted that this team won’t be able to rely on that type of approach as much. 

“We’ve got a couple guys that can run,” Mazey said. “But typically we have six or seven. That’s not this year’s team, by any means… pretty different complexion of this team, for sure.”

Mazey listed a number of key offensive additions from the transfer portal, including infielders Reed Chumley—who hit .392 for Houston Christian University of Division I’s Southland Conference—as well as Brodie Kresser and Benjamin Lumsden. In terms of returning starters, he praised first baseman Grant Hussey, third baseman Ellis Garcia and catcher Logan Sauve. All of them have displayed excellent offensive talent but haven’t always been consistent, but he expects them to take a leap this season.

Mazey said that he’s still working out a starting lineup because of the team’s depth, and that things probably won’t settle for the first few weeks of the season.

Over on the mound, the Mountaineers lost all three of last year’s weekend starters to the transfer portal and graduation. This year they’ll start the season with a weekend rotation of returning junior Aidan Major and transfers Tyler Switalski and Hayden Cooper.

Mountaineers Build Off 2023

Development isn’t always linear in sports: even with last year’s success, WVU Baseball could take a step or two back because of all the players they’ve lost. Wetherholt discussed how the team has grown thanks to the lessons they learned last season, when WVU Baseball saw themselves ranked amongst the top ten before falling off a cliff and losing seven of eight games to finish the season.

I think that’s what hurt us last year, is we were looking forward too much,” Wetherholt said. “Staying consistent with the theme [that] we have to focus on the game that we’re about to play, we have to focus on the team we’re about to play, and we can’t look too far ahead or get too satisfied. I think last year’s big thing is winning became a habit. We obviously expected to win every game just by the way that we were playing, and we kinda took it for granted.”

Wetherholt also noted the tight-knit mentality of this Mountaineers team compared to other teams throughout his baseball career. That’s high praise when one considers how last year’s team gelled. 

“We have more new guys than returners, which is kinda starting to become the trend, but we’ve done a really good job of finding ways to connect outside of the field together, building really good bonds,” Wetherholt said. “This is probably one of the most selfless teams I’ve been on in my career.”

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