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West Virginia 2021 Baseball Preview

Randy Mazey’s squad is young but has the potential to make noise

John Lowe/The Daily Athenaeum

In 2019, Randy Mazey’s squad accomplished something that hadn’t happened in over 60 years, the West Virginia Mountaineers hosted a NCAA baseball regional in Morgantown. The growth of the program has been slow and steady. Mazey joined the team in 2013, a new facility - Monongalia County Ballpark - opened in 2015, the team made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 21 years in 2017 and then hosted the regional in 2019. The Mountaineers looked to capitalize on their growth from 2019 in 2020 but the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic shut the season down when the ‘Eers were just 11-5. Now a new season awaits a young but talented squad as they begin anew.

Returning Stars

Junior catcher Paul McIntosh returns after tying for the team lead in homeruns last year with 3 and leading the team in RBIs (14). McIntosh started slow last year and only hit .207 but did slash .277/.359/.497 in 2019. The .230 ISOPower (Slugging minus Batting Average) will definitely lead to lots of gasps from the home crowd.

First basemen Matt McCormick (FR) is a left-handed phenom who slashed .364/.470/.600 with 3 homeruns (tied with McIntosh) and 11 RBIs. If McCormick is able to produce near that line over the course of a full season, the Mountaineers will be looking at another regional.

Speedster second basemen Tyler Doanes (JR) is back after tying for the team lead with 7 stolen bases and hitting .279/.366/.344 last year. Doanes finished second on the team in total bases in 2019 behind Darius Hill and will likely be drafted in the upcoming draft.

The pitching staff is lead by junior Jackson Wolf, a lefthander capable of reaching low 90s with his fastball. He attacks hitters with his fastball, slider and changeup and will be looked to be the ace of the staff after going 3-1 last season with a 1.05 ERA and a 27:5 K:BB ratio. Jackson will likely be the Friday night starter.

Fresh Faces

Hudson Byorick, a fifth year senior, transfers in from Wofford and will man the outfield. Byorick earned All-Southern Conference preseason honors last year and then backed that nomination up by hitting .373 in the shortened 2020 season. In 2019, he led the Southern Conference in walks. D1Baseball.com named him a top-100 hitter.

Daniel Ouderkirk is the Mountaineers version of Randy Johnson. Standing at 6’-9”, Ourderkirk an imposing figure on the mound and he bolsters that reputation with a high-90s fastball that can reach 96-97 MPH. He then changes speed to a low-80s slider and a legitimate version of a Tom Glavine changeup.

Adam Tulloch, a lefthander junior college transfer, is another pitcher to keep an eye on. Mazey and the staff have done a great job of finding high velocity arms and Tulloch fits that bill with a mid-90s fastball and improving secondary pitches.

In right field, Victor Scott brings speed to the basepaths and will surprise pitchers if they leave an offering too far in the middle. The coaches are very high on Scott, thinking he has the chance to be a superstar by the end of his Mountaineer’s career in gold and blue.

Season Outlook

The season starts Friday when the team travels to Atlanta, Georgia for a four-game series against Georgia State. They’ll then head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a local tournament before spending the entire month of March in Morgantown. A mid-week game against Marshall is sandwiched between weekend series between Kent State and Central Michigan. At the end of the month, Big 12 baseball starts.

In years past, the schedule was set up with a mid-week game and then a weekend series. That setup is now gone as the Mountaineers will almost exclusively play on the weekend. Other than a mid-week Backyard Brawl in early April, the Mountaineers play on the weekend.

The first real showdown for the Mountaineers come as they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on the #20 Oklahoma State Cowboys April 1-3. The second big test for Randy Mazey’s squad is when #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders come to Morgantown April 16-18. At the end of April, #10 TCU Horned Frogs come to Morgantown for a weekend Top 25 showdown. The last big resume builder will happen right before the Big 12 Tournament when the ‘Eers travel to Austin to take on the #9 Longhorns.

This squad has the talent to once again make a NCAA regional. The #14 ranking by D1Baseball.com is the highest preseason ranking in school history.