The No. 14 West Virginia baseball team kicks its season off with a four-game series against Georgia State. The first game of the series will be on Friday, and it will be the team’s first game in 345 days.
A year ago, the Mountaineers were 11-5 and the team was about to play its first conference series when the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
This season, WVU will begin with its highest preseason ranking in program history with the No. 14 rank in the nation and a sixth-place preseason ranking in the Big 12.
“We’re not sneaking up on people the way we used to back in the old Hawley Field,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “Sixth place in our league should be top 20 in the nation.”
Following the four-game series with Georgia State, the Mountaineers will compete in the Coastal Carolina baseball tournament. The tournament will include Kennesaw State, Coastal Carolina and Bryant University. Last season, the Mountaineers beat Kennesaw State 7-1 but lost to Coastal Carolina 14-2.
After the CCU tournament, West Virginia will host 15 straight home games from March 5 through March 28. The 15-game stretch will include 12 non-conference games and a three-game series with Kansas.
West Virginia is returning the majority of its roster from a season ago with the only losses being right-handed pitchers Dillon Meadows and Braden Zarbinsky to graduation. The team will also be without right-handed pitcher Ryan Bergert as he is sidelined for the year with an injury.
With the three players missing, Mazey is still confident in his team and believes that he has some MLB potential on the field.
“We’ve got several guys on the team right now that wouldn’t be here if the draft would have been a normal draft,” Mazey said.
WVU will look to Jackson Wolf on the mound, the senior left-handed pitcher was named to the National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-America team on Wednesday. A season ago, Wolf posted a 3-1 record along with a 1.05 ERA. Wolf led the Mountaineers in strikeouts (27) and innings pitched (25.2) in the COVID-19 shortened season.
Of those returning, Matt McCormick (.364), Austin Davis (.322) and Tyler Doanes (.279) led the team in batting average in their 16 games last season. The trio also led in runs batted in with 11 for McCormick and 10 for both Davis and Doanes.
In the field, McCormick and Doanes led the team in double plays with 10 each, while Tevin Tucker had seven double plays. Like Burgert, Tucker will miss the 2021 season with an injury.
The Mountaineers are scheduled to play 49 total games this season, with 24 of them being outside of the Big 12 Conference.