Myers Attempts To Build Upon Solid Season In Final Year
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Down in the zone.
Those were the keywords for BJ Myers’ offseason. The right-hander elevated a bit more than desired last season, which at times led to better swings on the ball and, at times, extra base hits.
As the anchor of West Virginia’s rotation, Myers pitched 97 2/3 innings, or nearly 18 percent of the team total of 551. That percentage increased in Big 12 play, when Myers threw 52-plus frames, or approximately 25 percent of the total. His workload might be similar this season, and that’s made the focus on locating the ball effectively and keeping his offspeed offerings down with the tailing movement needed.
“My big focus the whole offseason was to pitch better, be better down in the zone,” Myers said. “That was my whole focus in the offseason, to be better down in the zone. Worrying more about where I am pitching.”
Myers went 5-5 in 17 appearances last season, with a 4.52 ERA that dropped to 3.14 in conference play. The senior recorded a team-high tying 73 strikeouts against just 21 walks, showing excellent control. Myers was rarely hit hard, and threw a complete game five-hitter on a cold, blustery Friday night against Kansas on April 7. But his last outing left a sour taste, Myers giving up 10 runs, all earned, on eight hits in working into just the fourth frame in WVU’s season-ending 12-8 loss to Wake Forest in the NCAA Regional.
While the game hasn’t dominated Myers’ offseason thoughts, it has been there as a learning experience and a valuable teaching tool.
“It was a fun experience but also a humbling experience for myself,” Myers said. “It’s a different ball game. You have to turn it up a notch and play a different style of ball. You gotta compete with every pitch. There are no pitches off. Every at-bat, every batter matters. You really have to come together as a team.
“We want to win. We came up one game short, and it’s kind of fueled the fire this fall and this early spring. We really want to finish this year. That last game kinda got out of hand on us, got out of hand on me, and so we want to finish this year.”
That’s the clear next step. The Mountaineers went 36-26 and were ranked at times a season ago while reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years. Head coach Randy Mazey noted the foundation is set, along with the culture and mindset. There will be no more two steps forward and one step back. There are expectations now, for both West Virginia and Myers, and that’s reaching the Super Regional of the NCAA Tournament, meaning advancing past the initial four-team pod and advancing into what’s essentially baseball’s Sweet 16.
“We are a group of guys who love each other,” said Myers, who was a second-team All-Big 12 selection . “We have a lot of fun together and play the game hard. Our goal is to pitch and play defense and get to where we need to. Get better every day and stay together as a team.”