MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Aggressiveness on the base paths is a key component of a Randy Mazey ball club.
The 2022 team stole more bases than any other in program history. It set the single-season record with 156, shattering the previous record of 114.
Victor Scott led the charge in that category. He swiped 38 in 2022 which is now the single-season record. Only two other players finished with 20 plus, Austin Davis (29) and Tevin Tucker (21).
Tucker is the only one who remains on WVU’s roster in 2023.
“It’s something we talked about before the year. The coaches said we might not steal as much. I was the one to say I think we can steal as much if not more. I was just throwing it out there,” sophomore JJ Wetherholt said. “I don’t think we have a Vic from last year that can just steal at any time but I think Barry and Tucker are about as close as you can get.”
Through 13 games, it seems Wetherholt’s preseason prediction isn’t too far off as the Mountaineers have already stolen 37 bases.
But he’s not just talking the talk. Wetherholt is the one leading the charge as he has a team-high 14 stolen bases. His final total for 2022 was 15.
“I think our average speed is definitely better than last year. I think that’s something that teams can look past because I know coming into this year people probably didn’t consider me a base stealer,” Wetherholt said. “That’s something that I’ve been working on personally so I knew I’d be able to steal more.”
He is one of eight Mountaineers who have at least one swiped bag on their stat line this year, but he’s the only one with double digits. He also leads the Big 12 Conference in that category.
“I think the biggest thing for me was getting healthier. I was battling some knee problems last year,” Wetherholt said. “The other thing for me was losing fat and putting it back on in muscle. That helped me get a lot faster.”
Braden Barry has stolen eight bags while Tucker has been successful on all six of his attempts.
In Saturday’s win over Minnesota, WVU finished with six stolen bases. It’s the most in a single game so far this season. Barry, Tucker and Wetherholt were responsible for two apiece.
“You have to defend our speed. We lost some dynamic base stealers from last year but we still have some. We stole six more bases today and if you don’t take care of our speed, we are hard to beat,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “Speed is a great thing to have. It’s the only skill you can use on offense and defense. It’s working out for us so far.”
With a pair of stolen bases on Saturday, that puts Tucker at 53 for his career. He is now two away from tying Braden Zarbnisky (55) for No. 6 all-time.