Before the 2023 season, WVU baseball head coach Randy Mazey had a couple of gaps to fill with the likes of Austin Davis departing from the program and Victor Scott getting drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mazey and his staff took to the transfer portal and found a couple of talents that may have fallen under the radar, but fit the WVU style of play perfectly.

First, Mazey added an outfield replacement for Davis in former Nevada standout Landon Wallace. Wallace picked up recognition after hitting .313 with five home runs with the Wolfpack in the 2022 season.

Next up was JUCO product Caleb McNeely, a shortstop for Walters State Community College in Tennessee. McNeely caught Mazey’s eye after hitting .390 with 25 homers while picking up a conference player of the year award at Walters State. With shortstop being locked down by veteran Tevin Tucker, McNeely was moved to the outfield to join Wallace for the majority of the 2023 season.

While these additions may not have caught the eye of every single fan during the offseason, the vision that Mazey and his staff had with these two clearly has come to fruition.

The new outfield duo has made an immediate impact for the WVU program in their first seasons, as two have combined for 116 hits, 22 home runs, and 94 runs batted in. Wallace is currently hitting .322 on the season, which is good for third best on the team with 10 homers and 47 runs batted in. McNeely is batting .299 with 12 home runs and 47 runs batted in.

While both of these two have excelled at the plate, the defensive side of the ball may have posed some questions for the newcomers. While Wallace played outfield in his high school days, he was mostly glued to first base or the designated hitter spot for Nevada in 2022, while McNeely played his career at Walters State at shortstop.

With shortstop being locked down by Tevin Tucker and first base occupied by Grant Hussey, both McNeely and Wallace had to adjust to the outfield for their first season in the Big 12.

McNeely started the season playing at third base, but after a couple shaky defensive games, Mazey moved him to right field, where he has found his home. McNeely and Wallace have both held down the fort in the outfield, as the pair have combined for single digit errors on the season.

Another adjustment these two have had no trouble with is hitting against the Big 12 competition, as Wallace has 26 hits, eight home runs, and 22 runs batted in against Big 12 pitching, while McNeely has accounted for 25 hits, three home runs, and 16 runs batted in for himself.

While McNeely has not seen the long ball come into play quite as much in conference play, he has still hit with power throughout the big moments, as the Kentucky native hit a home run in each of WVU’s three games against rival Pitt, while also hitting two homers in Charleston against in-state rival Marshall. McNeely also delivered a back-breaking, two-run home run in the sixth inning of Sunday’s rubber match against Texas Tech, giving the Mountaineers the series win over the Red Raiders.

With the Mountaineers walking into the postseason with so much on the line, look for these first year stars to make an impact both at the plate and in the outfield.