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WVU Baseball Preview: Questions at Shortstop in an Otherwise Solid Mountaineer Infield



West Virginia third baseman Kevin Brophy (Cody Nespor/WVSportsNow

This story is part of a series previewing the West Virginia baseball team this week ahead of the Mountaineers’ season-opener against Georgia State on Friday. WVSN will publish previews of WVU’s outfield, infield and pitching staff this week.

For the first time in two seasons, West Virginia baseball coach Randy Mazey will have to figure out who his shortstop is this season. Junior Tevin Tucker has started all 76 of WVU’s games at short over the last two seasons but will miss the entire 2021 season recovering from offseason surgery. Outside of Tucker, however, the rest of WVU’s infield is more or less set.

Starting behind the plate, senior Paul McIntosh will return for his third season as the Mountaineers’ backstop. The Florida native took over full-time catching duties last season and should hold onto that role in 2021. McIntosh was off to a bit of a slow start in the abbreviated 2020 season, batting just .207, but he led the Mountaineers with 14 RBI and was tied for the team lead with three home runs. McIntosh was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team this season.

Sophomore Matt McCormick could see some time behind the plate and as the designated hitter but should spend most of the season at first base in 2021. McCormick was named a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American after hitting .364 with four doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI last season.

One of the most consistent Mountaineer bats over the last three seasons, senior Tyler Doanes has been the Mountaineers’ full-time second baseman for each of the last two seasons. A Preseason All-Big 12 selection, Doanes carries a career .310 batting average. In his first full season in 2019, Doanes hit .316 with 21 doubles, 40 runs scored, 32 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

The old man on the team, third baseman Kevin Brophy is entering his fifth year with West Virginia. Brophy batted .246 with three doubles, a home run and eight RBI last season, but Mazey said his greatest contribution to the team comes away from the field.

“He’s got a great temperament and a great personality and kind of gravitates towards the new guys in the program,” Mazey said. “I think they look to him for work ethic and how to practice. His leadership qualities with youngs guys are probably his strongest asset on this team.”

As for the question mark at shortstop, WVU does not have many players with actual playing experience who could man the position, but there are certainly a few on the roster with promise. Sophomore Dominic Ragazzo was rated the no. 1 shortstop recruit in Delaware in 2019 according to Perfect Game. He made his collegiate debut last season, collecting his first career hit on Feb. 29. Freshman William Bean was the no. 9 shortstop in Virginia and fellow freshman Mikey Kluska was the no. 1 shortstop in West Virginia in last year’s recruiting class.

As for depth, junior Vince Ippoliti should see time at designated hitter and catcher, as well as possibly playing some outfield. He hit .290 with three doubles and six RBI last season. Redshirt-sophomore Alec Burns could also factor in at designated hitter as well as seeing some time at first. He had two hits in 12 at-bats with one double and four runs scored last season.

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