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WVU has to get better in baseball

March 27, 2012

MORGANTOWN-West Virginia University's baseball team has lost five of its last six games and struggling with an 11-15 record.

But Greg Van Zant, who's in his 18th season as head coach, isn't yelling and screaming at his young squad. He knows the coaches must be patient.

There is just one senior on the team, left-hander pitcher Eric Hinkle. Eleven players are freshmen and 10 are sophomores.

"It's very disappointing," Van Zant said after WVU was swept in a three-game series by Big East defending champion Connecticut at Hawley Field. "But we've got a lot of work to do.

"With five freshmen in the starting lineup, we're not competing at a high enough level. Really, we've got a lot of work to do.

"If your guys are trying hard-and I think ours are-you just have to be patient. There's still a lot of baseball to be played."

Hitting has been the biggest problem. The Mountaineers were outhit by Connecticut, 38-28, in the three games. WVU pitchers also issued 17 bases on balls while their hitters got only six.

The Huskies also outscored West Virginia by 33-12 in the three games, including 8-1 in Sunday's finale. "You're not going to win many games scoring just one run," Van Zant lamented.

While several hitters are inexperienced in Division I baseball, the veteran coach said even some of the most experienced aren't hitting well.

Second baseman Brady Wilson batted .330 last year, but he is hitting only .245 now.

Most of the hits have come from the top batting order.

The coaches are urging all of them to continue to work harder at swinging the bat.

The Mountaineers have a combined batting average of just .244 as a team. "Our hitters just need to keep working at it," Van Zant said.

WVU has been outscored by 182-105 in the first 26 games. It has a 56-games schedule.

Van Zant, who has a career record of 516-434-1, said the Mountaineers, must get better in most play phases -not just batting.

"We've got to improve behind the plate catching," he explained. "We've got to get better on the mound. Overall, defensive play is decent.

"But we've got to get better in the outfield. We're really short of athletes. We've come up short on offense, looking at third strikes.

"There's just no pop in the lineup. We don't get enough base hits."



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