The West Virginia baseball team has seen early season success on both offense and defense. Young pitchers and hitters have combined to show promise for the Mountaineers thus far.
Coming off of one of its best seasons in school history, as well as the loss of a first-round MLB draft pick in pitcher Alek Manoah and other key players, head coach Randy Mazey has not had to worry about his team’s youth.
Out of 34 total players on the roster, 25 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Fourteen out of 17 pitchers total are either freshmen or sophomores.
In a game against Kent State on March 4, four WVU pitchers combined for a no-hitter against the Golden Flashes. Out of the four pitchers that made appearances that game, three were freshman, including starter Tyler Strechay. The early-career experience being gained by the young players is something Mazey feels good about.
“We got a pretty young staff so it teaches them. [Tyler] Strechay went out there and dominated the game with his fastball.” Mazey said. “If you can command your fastball and keep it out of the middle of the plate and throw strikes with it, you’ll always have success ... he [Strechay] showed people how to pitch.”
Through 15 games, WVU has only allowed more than four runs twice. Coastal Carolina scored 14 runs on Feb. 20 and Canisius scored eight in a Mountaineer victory on Feb. 18.
Pitching is only one side of the story for Mazey’s team, however. The Mountaineers have been getting it done at the plate as well. Through 15 games, the WVU offense is averaging nearly ten hits per game while averaging around six runs scored.
Redshirt senior Braden Zarbinsky has been the leader for the team so far, particularly in the batter’s box. Zarbinsky leads the team in batting average, OPS, total hits, and runs scored.
The Marietta, Georgia native is batting 27-for-62 for a .435 average. He also is a threat running the bases as he has stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts, which has helped him lead the team in runs scored with 16.
Much like the pitching staff, the position players and batters are also mostly freshmen and sophomores. Despite the young age, WVU has greatly benefitted from these players.
Sophomore outfielder Austin Davis has started every game for Randy Mazey this season and is fourth on the team in hits with 16, with a .291 batting average. He has also stolen six bases so far and scored nine runs.
Although his batting is strong, Davis makes his impact in the field also. He is a perfect 42-for-42 in catch attempts with no errors through 15 games, and has used his speed to help him in the outfield.
As a team, WVU fields the ball at a rate of .978 with only 12 errors on the season.
The Mountaineers will hope that this team can continue being one that wins games on all sides of the ball. They will return home for a game against Liberty on Wednesday at 3 p.m.