Seniors Griffin, Berry plan to lead WVU in ’11
Teammates have been battery mates for four seasons
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 00:02
It makes it easier for a pitcher and catcher to be successful when the two are comfortable with each other.
If comfort were the sole determination of success, West Virginia University starting pitcher Andy Berry could be the top pitcher in college baseball this season.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, my comfort level with (WVU catcher Kevin Griffin) would be a 12," the right-handed senior said. "This will be my fourth year with Kevin, so we're definitely on the same page now.
"He knows how I like to pitch. I might have to shake him off once a game, if that."
Griffin and Berry were teammates at Potomac State in 2008 and 2009.
Berry went 9-1 over two years at Potomac State, with 69 strikeouts in 96 total innings pitched.
In 2010 Berry accumulated 57 strikeouts in 70.2 innings of work for the Mountaineers, highlighted by a six-inning, one-run performance against Louisville in the Big East Conference Tournament.
"Andy got better as the year went on for us, which is something that most pitchers don't do," Griffin said. "Normally you will see a pitcher start to lose some stuff at the end of the year, but with Andy he just keeps getting stronger. We're trying to get him in mid-season form by his first start. That way he is already where we want him to be."
While Berry admits that he has a strong fastball and slider, he has worked this off-season to add an off-speed pitch to his repertoire.
"I really needed that third pitch that I'll be able to get some more outs on, so I've really worked on my change-up," he said. "In college, the elite pitchers have three, sometimes four pitches they can throw for strikes at any time. I knew I needed to get my change working for this season."
WVU head coach Greg Van Zant thinks adding a strong third pitch could really help Berry in 2011.
"Andy has real good stuff ... His third pitch could make him a really tough guy to go against," he said. "His change-up has come along this offseason, and I can't wait to see him out on the bump."
Although Berry has worked hard this off-season, he said Griffin will be the key to his success in 2011.
"We just have something special," he said. "Kevin's knowledge of the game is incredible. He's a great catcher, and a great teammate. I'm glad to have him behind the plate for me."
Griffin, who won the starting job late last season, hit .267 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 2010.
"We lost a big bat in (former shortstop Jedd) Gyorko, so we're all going to have to come out swinging," Griffin said. "We can't worry about who we lost, it's all about who we have now, and I think these guys are ready to play some baseball.
"We have a strong pitching staff, and I think we are a lot better than what we're projected to be."