football Edit

Mazey Set to Rely on Bats

The West Virginia baseball program understands the challenges it is facing in 2015. With the Mountaineers and head coach Randy Mazey having to replace nearly all its pitching from a year ago, West Virginia will have to get production from its everyday lineup to compensate for a young pitching staff.
Mazey is ready to rely on a lineup that has several players coming back.
"Last year if we scored four runs in a game, we felt good about it. This year if we score four runs per game, we won't feel too good about it because we have so many new pitchers," said Mazey. "There will be a lot of pressure put on the offense to score runs. Those guys will have to be clicking on all cylinders all season long."
To the start the season, Mazey is set to simply stack the lineup with best hitters at the top. He won't get fancy with placing hitters in ideal spots of the batting order, he just wants his better hitters to see as many plate appearances as they can.
"We'll try to put our best hitters at the top of the lineup. They may not be traditional leadoff or two-hole or three-hole hitters, we're just going to load the top of our lineup with the best hitters so they can get as many at-bats as possible," Mazey said.
With that, he will have his most experienced hitter in senior shortstop Taylor Munden in the leadoff spot. Munden hit .261 in 218 at bats last season. He had 16 doubles to lead the Mountaineers in 2014 too.
Senior Justin Fox will play next to Munden on the left side of the infield at third base. Fox is expected to bat in the lower third of the lineup. He hit .226 a year ago.
"My part is just being a leader since we have so many young guys. I'll just try to play well in the field and hit too," said Fox.
On the right side of the infield, Jackson Cramer will likely take over the fulltime first baseman role after spending last season as a part time designated hitter. Cramer takes over for powerful slugger Ryan McBroom, who is now in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.
Cramer had seven doubles and a homerun in 99 at-bats last year.
Second base could be played by a number of different guys. After redshirting last year Shaun Corso as well as true freshmen Tucker Cascadden could see action. Regardless of who wins the second baseman job regularly, they will have big shoes to fill. Last season, starting second baseman Billy Fleming hit .351 and had 30 RBIs in 222 at bats.
Senior Cam O'Brien will handle the catching duties. He is arguably the most experienced player on the entire roster. O'Brien started 44 games last years and hit .259 with 16 extra base hits while driving in 18 runs. He'll be backed up by Ray Guerrini and Garrett Hope.
Hope, also on the football roster, joins the baseball program for the first time this season. Hope was a former All-State selection at the Woodlands High School and his brother plays in the Kansas City Royals farm system.
Now just like second base, the centerpiece or new centerfield in the Mountaineer outfield has an enormous task in replacing who held down the position last year. Last season, Bobby Boyd led the team in batting average, triples and stolen bases out of the leadoff spot before being drafted by the Houston Astros.
Boyd is likely to be replaced by newcomer and junior college transfer KC Huth.
Next to Huth in rightfield will likely be Shaun Wood and in left field will be Brad Johnson. Last season, Wood began the year as the starting rightfielder before Johnson won the job away from him midway through the year.
Wood hit .226 in 126 at bats while Johnson hit .318 in 88 at bats. Johnson also had four more RBIs than Wood in 38 less plate appearances.
Johnson may also play some first base and be used as the designated hitter occasionally. He will likely hit in the middle of the order.
"We have enough experienced guys in the lineup to score some runs," Mazey said.
Mazey will unveil his first lineup of the 2015 season on Friday at 4 PM when West Virginia opens its season in the first game of a three game series at Clemson.