Weekend Preview

West Virginia's baseball team travels to Queens, N.Y., this weekend to take on Big East foe St. John's in a three-game series at Jack Kaiser Stadium. First pitch is 6 p.m. tonight.

Game two will begin at 1 p.m., on Saturday, May 3, followed by the final game of the series at noon on Sunday, May 3. WVU (32-11, 11-7) and St. John's (32-10, 13-5) have met a total of 39 times since 1902. The Red Storm swept the Mountaineers last season in three games at Hawley field. The Mountaineers fell 8-7 in game one, 11-2 in game two and fell 7-2 in game three.

St. John's currently leads the conference with a .722 winning percentage. The Red Storm is currently receiving votes in both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll released on April 28. St. John's has been ranked eight out of 10 weeks this season. WVU is also receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll this week, its second week of the season.

The Red Storm is strong from the mound, recording a 3.52 total ERA, led by senior George Brown. Brown is 8-0 on the season, allowing 20 runs on 60 hits in 65.1 innings of work. Brown was recently named to the midseason watch list for the Dick Howser trophy, one of the nation's most prestigious awards. This past weekend, he threw a no-decision in a 6-4 win over Notre Dame. He scattered eight hits over seven innings and allowed three runs. After a first inning single, Brown retired six straight and 13 of the next 14 batters. Brown is projected to pitch on Friday night.

At the plate, Brian Kemp is leading the Storm with a .364 batting average. The sophomore has registered 27 runs on 44 hits, including three doubles, four triples and one home run. Freshman Paul Karmas leads the team with 53 hits, including a team-high 13 doubles while senior Chris Anninos leads the team with 10 home runs and 36 runs scored.

West Virginia has a firm hold on the Big East offensive charts as the Mountaineers are hitting a collective .359 and slugging .561, leading the conference in both categories. The Mountaineers have scored 409 runs on the season and most recently swept Connecticut, their second league sweep of the season, last weekend. Six Mountaineers are batting .400 or above, led by third baseman Vince Belnome who has a .414 average on the year, and a team-best 59 RBIs. Senior Tyler Kuhn leads the pack with 79 hits, including 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 61 runs scored.

On the mound, the Mountaineers will most likely look to junior right-hander Josh Whitlock (7-3, 4.81 ERA, 51 K, 38 BB) and Stephen Morrison (5-2, 3.82 ERA, 50 K, 40 BB) as starters. Sophomore Chris Enourato, who leads the team with six saves, will be counted on as WVU's closer.

Also, The West Virginia University track & field team will compete at the 2008 Big East Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Jumbo Elliot Track in Philadelphia starting today.

"We are looking for continued improvement on our team from the Big East indoor meet," head coach Sean Cleary says. "I know we are young and still getting better so I want to take that experience and have a better performance here."

The Mountaineers are looking to improve on last year's seventh-place finish in the outdoor season as well as 2008's seventh-place finish indoors. Marie-Louise Asselin and Keri Bland each won individual league titles indoors in the 3,000m and 1,000m, respectively. Bland ranks in the top five of the conference in the 800m and the 1,500m, while Asselin is redshirting the outdoor season.

Joining Bland as 800m qualifiers is Karly Hamric and freshman Kaylyn Christopher. Christopher is qualified in the 1,500m. Veteran Clara Grandt is qualified in the 5,000m and may also enter the 10,000m.

Freshman sprinter Chelsea Carrier ranks second in the league in the 100-meter hurdles and 14th in the 100-meter dash. Sophomore April Rotilio figures to be another sprinter in contention to score points in the 200 meters and 400 meters as she ranks 12th in the conference in both events. Senior Halimah Bashir shows the ninth fastest 400-meter intermediate hurdle time entering the weekend and senior Alison Spiker qualified in the steeplechase.

WVU has depth and could have an event winner in select field events. Freshman Katelyn Williams has the fifth-best high jump in the league this season at 1.77m and teammate Natasha Redman ranks 16th in the event. Sophomore Kristen Loughry, who took second in the pole vault last year, Alexandra Acker and Maggie Smith all rank in the league's top 15 pole vaulters. Senior Alexis Noel is qualified in both the long and triple jumps and Carrier will also enter the heptathlon which starts Friday.

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