Baseball, WVU Sports

Kyle West homers to help WVU beat Baylor, takes team lead in home runs in first season at Division I

GRANVILLE — For those who may not believe one conversation or just a few words of encouragement can make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t know Kyle West’s entire story.

A simple look at his bio already tells an interesting tale on how the young man from Hedgesville has made a near-impossible leap from Division II to becoming WVU’s home run and RBI leader just one year later.

West, a 6-foot-4 outfielder, took the team lead with his 11th home run of the season Saturday — a solo shot that went 372 feet — to help lift the Mountaineers to a 5-2 victory against Baylor inside Kendrick Family Ballpark.


A year ago, he was playing ball about 150 miles down Interstate 79 at the University of Charleston. It was the only school who offered him any type of scholarship money out of high school.

Now he’s tied for 10th in the Big 12 in home runs. How does that happen?

“The path was not ideal,” West begins. “I definitely see that.”

It certainly wasn’t, but it was a journey West began only because of conversations he had with his roommate at the time, Drew Klaserner.

“He must have saw something I didn’t see,” West continued. “He kept telling me I could have a real future in playing.

“He was the guy that really said, ‘Hey, I think you can do it. I hope you have as much confidence in yourself as I have in you.’ That really kicked things off.”

Well, that and the fact West batted .397 with 22 home runs, 60 RBIs and 29 stolen bases as a sophomore at Charleston.

Klaserner kept pushing him to look for something more — “He pushed me to be the best baseball player and the best version of myself I could possibly be,” West said. — and so West put his name into the transfer portal after the season.

Suddenly, the kid who hardly no one wanted coming out of high school was very popular.

“He had 22 homers, so everybody around the country who gets on the computer and types in transfer portal knew Kyle West was available,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “My coaches did their thing in recruiting him. Since he’s an in-state kid, he takes a ton of pride in being here.”

That pride has helped him put together a .296 batting average in his first season in Division I, and he’s also driven in 35 runs to go with his 11 dingers.

“He’s come so far,” Mazey said. “That’s the difference between Division II and Division I, you don’t just jump in and have success. You have to learn how to have success.”

On West’s part, he says he’s not one to place expectations on himself or to even think much about how he’s exceeding expectations.

“At Charleston, we liked to say you take one step forward and keep your head down,” West said. “You take another step forward and another step. By the time you look up, you’ve traveled miles. I try to keep that mind set and not give myself expectations.”

The expectations for the Mountaineers (25-16, 13-7 Big 12) are suddenly on the upswing again.

WVU won its ninth consecutive game against Baylor (19-22, 9-11) and will go for the series sweep at 11 a.m. Sunday.

A sweep would keep WVU tied with Oklahoma State for second place in the league standings and within reach of first-place Oklahoma.

Derek Clark earned his fifth win of the season after throwing 127 pitches over eight innings. Maxx Yehl picked up his second save by recording the final out in the ninth with runners on first and third.

But the day belonged to West, who also doubled. He reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

Just how much different might his baseball career had been if his roommate had simply decided to look the other way and go about his business?

“I probably would still be playing in Charleston right now,” West said.