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Baseball Preview: Outfielders


By DJ Jamiel for WVUsports.com
February 13, 2014 09:43 AM
Bobby Boyd returns for his third season as the starting center fielder.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Outfielders
Junior Bobby Boyd and senior Jacob Rice lead an experienced outfield for West Virginia in 2014. A mainstay in the Mountaineers outfield during his four-year career, Brady Wilson has graduated, opening a spot for a list of viable replacements.
 
Boyd has had an impact from the moment he came to Morgantown in 2011.  This past year he ranked third on the team with a .314 batting average and No. 5 in the Big 12 with 17 stolen bases. He began 2013 in significant fashion, batting .427 over the first 18 games. In that stretch he was held hitless just one time.
 
“Bobby is a great player,” head coach Randy Mazy says. “Every time we talk to other teams, he’s the guy that they say is a real pest at the plate and is hard to get out. He brings a whole different dimension to our lineup with his speed and his ability to get on base. He has made some great strides in center field, so I’m looking forward to Bobby having a big year.”
 
Throughout last season, Boyd tallied a hitting streak of seven or more games on three different occasions. His speed allowed him to never ground into a double play, culminating to an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection.
 
Rice entered 2013 as a newcomer but quickly made a name for himself. The Tulsa, Okla. native, led the team in batting average (.333) and hits (73), while being second on the team in doubles (13) and on-base percentage (.383). No one on the Mountaineer roster had more multi-hit games than Rice at 27. This number includes two four-hit and five three-hit performances.
 
“Jake went undrafted this past year, which was a surprise because he is so athletic,” Mazey articulated. “Even though he hit .330 last season, I think he swung the bat better this fall than he did all of last year, so we’re expecting a big year out of him.”
 
None of his hits had more of an impact then his game-winning single in extra innings against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship. Rice finished 2013 as an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, and earned his way onto the Big 12 All-Tournament Team.
 
Due to his athletic skill, newcomer Trevor Simms could see time in the outfield as well as on the mound. In 55 games for Weatherford College in 2013, the junior bated .294 with 10 doubles, two triples, one home run and 19 RBIs.  Simms originally began his colligate career at Rice in 2012, where he was also the backup kicker on the football team.
 
Trevor Simms is a great athlete,” Mazey said. “He can run a 6.4 or 6.5 60-yard dash. He can come in and pitch, he has tremendous power and he has great baseball skills.  We need to learn how to use him properly to make sure he is always fresh when he is pitching. We want him to have a chance to be in the lineup when capable.”
 
Redshirt freshman Shaun Wood looks to make an impact in 2014 in his first full season with West Virginia as an outfielder or designated hitter.
 
“Shaun’s got great ability and great potential,” Mazey explained. “He is still trying to put it all together, but once he does he has a chance to be a great player. Hopefully there are going to be a lot of times this year that Shaun is in the lineup.”
 
The Mountaineers will look to use athleticism to help cover the outfield in 2014. Boyd and Rice offer stability and the know how of what it takes to find success in the Big 12, not just in the field, but in the batters box. They are prime examples to follow for the list of capable newcomers. 



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