West Virginia will try to put last weekend’s results in the past and turn its attention to the Big 12 Tournament this week.
The Mountaineers were swept by Texas in Austin, Texas, to miss out on a shot at an outright regular-season conference title and the top overall tournament seed, and will now enter the league tourney at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, as the No. 3 seed. WVU will open against No. 6 Texas Tech at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Season number two starts right now,” WVU coach Randy Mazey told reporters after Sunday’s loss to Texas. “We’ve had an incredible regular season, but we’ve got to finish the job now.”
WVU finished the regular season with a 39-16 overall record and a 15-9 mark in league play to end in a three-way tie atop the conference with the Longhorns and Oklahoma State, who enter as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.
The results against the Longhorns also sent WVU out of the top 10 in the national polls. The Mountaineers are now No. 21 in the D1Baseball Top 25 Rankings, No. 14 in the Baseball America Top 25, No. 18 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division I Baseball Poll and No. 17 in the USA Today Sports Baseball Coaches Poll.
The Mountaineers will now turn their attention to the Red Raiders, whom they faced in their final regular-season home series at Monongalia County Ballpark. WVU lost the opening game 5-2 before demolishing Texas Tech 17-2 in the second game and closing the series with a 5-3 victory.
The eight-team, double-elimination Big 12 tournament had seven teams in the top 50 in RPI at the time the brackets were announced over the weekend, and all eight had a strength of schedule ranking in the top 75 nationally.
WVU will face either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State in its second game. The Mountaineers took two of three games in their series with both of those foes.
The Mountaineers lost both games they played in last year’s tournament and have never won a Big 12 tournament title. The last conference tournament championship WVU won came in 1996, and the share of the regular season Big 12 title this spring was the first since the program joined the league.
“It’s the first time in the history of the program we’ve done that. That’s what we try and do here, is try and do things that have never been done before, and we just did it,” Mazey said.
“We’ve got a lot of baseball left to play, but we can’t let one weekend change how we feel about the season we had. It was an incredible regular season — arguably the best in the history of the program. I’m really proud of our team and our coaches for what we’ve accomplished.”
In addition to the first-round game between No. 3 West Virginia and No. 6 Texas Tech and the game between No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 4 TCU will face No. 5 Kansas State in the tournament’s opening game at 10 a.m., and No. 1 Texas will take on No. 8 Kansas.
The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday and will be televised on ESPNU. All games during the tournament will be broadcast either on ESPNU or Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
WETHERHOLT RECOGNIZED: West Virginia second baseman JJ Wetherholt was named a semifinalist for the 2023 Dick Howser Trophy, it was announced over the weekend by the Dick Howser Trophy Committee, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. He was also selected as a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award on Monday.
The Dick Howser is given to the nation’s top college baseball player based on two rounds of national voting. Wetherholt is among 60 candidates, including four from the Big 12, and seven second basemen in consideration. Finalists will be announced June 8, and the winner will be announced on MLB Network on June 15.
Wetherholt is one of 25 players — and the only one from the Big 12 — named a Golden Spikes semifinalist. He’s the second Mountaineer ever to be named as a semifinalist for the award, joining Alek Manoah in 2019. The award will include fan voting, which began Monday with the naming of the semifinalists. The finalists will be announced by USA Baseball on June 7. The winner will be announced June 25.
Wetherholt is second nationally in batting average at .447. The sophomore has tallied 92 hits, 21 doubles, two triples and 15 home runs. He’s driven in 56 runs and scored 65. Wetherholt has a .786 slugging percentage, a .510 on-base percentage and 35 stolen bases.