The West Virginia Mountaineers have a new ballpark, which they are set to open on April 10, and they are hoping to break out of the middle of the pack in Big 12 baseball in 2015.
In its second season in the Big 12, in 2014, West Virginia dropped back three spots in the league standings, to sixth from a tie for third the year before. It may be tough for the Mountaineers to regain that lost ground in 2015.
The Mountaineers are an even-.500 8-8 through their first 16 games this season.
Senior shortstop Taylor Munden is the best of the returning position players. Munden is off to a good start this season, hitting .366 through 16 games, sixth best in the Big 12. He also has a slugging percentage of .648, which includes a team-high 46 total bases, five home runs and 12 RBI.
Designated hitter Kyle Davis, a freshman, has the second-highest team batting average in the early going, at .359.
Left fielder Brad Johnson and catcher Cameron O’Brien return for another season, as well.
The Mountaineer have a major retooling of their pitching staff in 2015. Harrison Musgrave, one of the best starters and strikeout pitchers in the conference, will be missed in the West Virginia rotation. Fourteen pitchers on the Mountaineers’ spring roster are sophomores, redshirt freshmen or true freshmen.
Only left-hander Ross Vance, a redshirt junior, returns among pitchers with seven or more starts last season. In five starts in 2015, Vance has a record of 2-1 with an ERA of 2.78 in 32.1 innings. Chad Donato, another starter, is 2-3 with an ERA of 1.74.
West Virginia began its Big 12 season last weekend, winning one of three games at Texas. The Mountaineers are at Baylor this weekend, and then go to Kansas State for a three-game weekend series.
West Virginia opens its new ballpark, Monongalia County Ballpark, on April 10 with a weekend series against Butler University.
Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of articles previewing the 2015 Big 12 baseball season and each of the nine teams that participate in the sport.