Summer 2024

J.J. Wetherholt having breakout season for West Virginia & 'best year in following God'

J.J. Wetherholt might be having the best individual season in the history of West Virginia baseball. His .443 batting average entering the NCAA Tournament is a program record, and he became the first Mountaineer ever to be named Big 12 Player of the Year.

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If the sophomore infielder did not get another hit, he would rank in the top 10 in program history in almost every major offensive statistical category โ€” hits, runs, home runs, even stolen bases. He ranks second nationally in batting average and is in the top 20 for multiple other categories, including hits (94), on-base percentage (.512) and slugging percentage (.778).

Unsurprisingly, he was recently named a semifinalist for two of college baseball’s most prestigious awards: the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

This season was a historic one for the West Virginia program too. The Mountaineers won a program-record 39 games and earned a share of their first Big 12 title. They are the No. 2 seed in the Lexington Regional despite being swept by Texas in their final series of the regular season and losing both of their games in the Big 12 Tournament. Up first in Lexington is a meeting with Indiana.

Wetherholt told the media that he thought the team benefitted from having a chance to reset with a week-long break before facing the Hoosiers on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

“I think it could be helpful, honestly, just get our minds off baseball a little bit and have some time back here. … Coming home and being able to relax for a little bit and really get our eyes ready for Indiana will be something that could really help us,” he said.

Not only has Wetherholt enjoyed a great year on the field, he says he’s also grown a lot in his faith. The Mars, Pennsylvania, native recently told His Huddle that he was surrounded by faith from an early age but strayed away as he got older. That changed when he arrived at West Virginia and got involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

โ€œWhen I got to school I had some friends invite me to FCA and thatโ€™s where my love for Jesus really came back,” Wetherholt told His Huddle. “This year has been my best year in following God and I think FCA was the biggest reason for that.โ€

Wetherholt describes himself as a “follower of Christ” in his Instagram bio and shares his faith on social media.

 

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He acknowledged to His Huddle that he struggles with performance anxiety and puts a lot of pressure on himself, but has found freedom on the field since reconnecting with God.

โ€œItโ€™s something I can still struggle with, but since using God as my main motivator Iโ€™ve been able to play more confidently,” he said. “Trusting that God is in control and pleased with me no matter the outcome of a game enables me to play more freely.โ€

As the accolades continue to come and he prepares to enter college baseball’s biggest stage, Wetherholt is playing with one primary goal in mind.

โ€œI just hope to be a positive influence to people all around and always bring glory to God,โ€ he told His Huddle.

West Virginia’s game against Indiana will be broadcast on ESPN+. The Mountaineers will either face host Kentucky or No. 4-seed Ball State on Saturday in their second game.

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