CHARLESTON, S.C.–The West Virginia University baseball team opens the season with a three game series against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on Friday morning at Joe Riley Park. The times for the weekend series have been shifted to 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, followed by a 10 a.m. start on Sunday.
The Mountaineers are coming of a 27-27 season and are predicted to finish sixth in the Big 12 this season, but WVU is hoping to prove the doubters wrong.
Charleston Southern is picked to finish seventh in the Big South Preseason Poll, but like the Mountaineers the Buccaneers have higher expectations.
Charleston Southern has one of the most experienced infields in college baseball. Senior Bryan Dye was second on the team last season with a .320 average and 25 RBI.
Seniors Ryan Maksim and Kevin Hickey will share the duties at second base. Maksim batted .293 last season. Hickey batted a .246 clip with five runs, two RBI, and a stolen base.
Senior Cole Murphy will get the nod at shortstop. He batted .277 with 11 doubles as a junior.
Junior Nate Blanchard will round out the infield for the Buccaneers. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound third baseman led the team with a .325 batting average last season, which included a 21-game hitting streak.
Charleston Southern has a speedy, athletic and young outfield. Sly Edwards batted .300 last season. Sophomore Chris Singleton emerged as a leader last season and will start in right field.
WVU is led by Kyle Davis. During his freshman campaign, the 6-foot utility man batted a .353 clip with a team leading 17 doubles. He hit four home runs and 31 RBI.
Davis was named to the Preseason All-merican Third Team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
Jackson Cramer will play first base for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior batted .291 with 15 doubles and eight homers last season.
Right-handed pitcher Chad Donato (7-6, 3.07 ERA) will take the mound on Friday. He faces right-handed pitcher Evan Raynor (4-5, 3.01 ERA).
On Saturday southpaw Ross Vance (7-5, 3.26 ERA) squares off against lefty Daniel Johnson.
The final matchup between the two teams showcases right-hander BJ Myers (2-5, 3.82 ERA) against Jon Piriz (1-0, 4.41 ERA).
WVU coach Randy Mazey was head coach of Charleston Southern from 1994-96. In his final season, he led the Buccaneers to their first NCAA Tournament, with a 30-24-1 record.
The Mountaineers lead the all-time series with Charleston Southern, 3-0. Last season’s series are the only meetings between the schools.