Two years ago, Carter Lyles was leading Scott High School to the state tournament with his overpowering fastball.
Last year, he was settling in for his freshman season with the West Virginia University baseball squad, which ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now comes the 2021 season which is scheduled to begin with a four-game, season-opening series at Georgia State Feb. 19-21 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Mountaineers are coming off a COVID-19-shortened, 11-5 season in 2020, marking the club’s best 16-game start since 2009.
WVU is getting preseason notice in the national polls as the Mountaineers were ranked 22nd in the nation in the USA Today/NCAA Baseball Coaches Poll.
West Virginia was one of five Big 12 teams ranked in the preseason poll. Texas Tech sits at No. 4, ahead of No. 10 Texas and No. 11 TCU. Oklahoma State also broke into the top 25, sitting at No. 18. Big 12 members Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma all received votes in the poll.
West Virginia has now been featured in a trio of preseason polls leading up to the 2021 campaign. The Mountaineers were ranked No. 14 in the D1Baseball.com Preseason Top 25, good for the highest preseason ranking in program history, as well as No. 21 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
Lyles, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound right-handed pitcher, saw spot duty on the mound last season in WVU’s short season.
He appeared in three games, all in relief.
Lyles, who touts a 93 mile per hour fastball, made his collegiate debut against Canisius on Feb. 18 in a relief effort in WVU’s 15-8. Later, he pitched in relief in a loss to Coastal Carolina and gave up a pair of runs in less than an inning of work. In another appearance, Lyles struck out three batters in an inning of relief at William & Mary on Feb. 29.
After the season-opening series at Georgia State, WVU is set to play Feb. 26-28 at the CCU Baseball Tournament at Coastal Carolina at Conway, S.C.
Then on March 5-7, WVU is slated to have its home-opening series against Mid-American Conference team Kent State in a three-game set at the Monongalia County Ballpark in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers follow with a March 9 home game against in-state rival Marshall and a March 11-13 home series against the Central Michigan Chippewas, another MAC team.
The Big 12 opener is slated for March 26-28 at home against Kansas in a three-game series.
A total of 48 games are on the WVU baseball schedule.
In other non-conference matchups, the Mountaineers travel to Pitt on Tuesday, April 6, in the renewal of the Backyard Brawl. The two teams are also set to meet in Morgantown on Wednesday, May 5.
WVU concludes non-conference play with a three-game set against Miami (Ohio), on May 14-16, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The 2021 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship is scheduled for May 26-30, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Lyles was a much decorated high school player at Scott, leading the Skyhawks to the 2019 Class AA state tournament in his senior season and being voted team captain of the Class AA All-State Team.
Lyles was also a four-time member of the All-Cardinal Conference Team.
2021 West Virginia University Baseball Schedule:
Feb. 19: at Georgia State, 2 p.m.
Feb. 20: at Georgia State (DH), 1 p.m.
Feb. 21: at Georgia State, noon
Feb. 26: vs. Kennesaw State (at CCU Baseball Tournament, Conway, S.C.), 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 27: vs. Coastal Carolina (at CCU Baseball Tournament, Conway, S.C.), 3 p.m.
Feb. 28: vs. Bryant (at CCU Baseball Tournament, Conway, S.C.), 11 a.m.
March 5: Kent State, 3 p.m.
March 6: Kent State, 3 p.m.
March 7: Kent State, 1 p.m.
March 9: Marshall, 3 p.m.
March 11: Central Michigan, 3 p.m.
March 12: Central Michigan, 3 p.m.
March 13: Central Michigan, 1 p.m.
March 16: Morehead State, 3 p.m.
March 17: Morehead State, 3 p.m.
March 18: Morehead State, 3 p.m.
March 19: Coastal Carolina, 6:30 p.m.
March 20: Coastal Carolina, 3 p.m.
March 21: Coastal Carolina, noon
March 26: *Kansas, 6:30 p.m.
March 27: *Kansas, 4 p.m.
March 28: *Kansas, 1 p.m.
April 1: *at Oklahoma, TBA
April 2: *at Oklahoma, TBA
April 3: *at Oklohoma, TBA
April 6: at Pitt, 3 p.m.
April 9: *at Baylor, 7:30 p.m.
April 10: *at Baylor, 4 p.m.
April 11: *at Baylor, 1 p.m.
April 16: *Texas Tech, 6:30 p.m.
April 17: *Texas Tech, 4 p.m.
April 18: *Texas Tech, 1 p.m.
April 23: *at Kansas State, 7 p.m.
April 24: *at Kansas State, 5 p.m.
April 25: *at Kansas State, 2 p.m.
April 30: *TCU, 6:30 p.m.
May 1: *TCU, 4 p.m.
May 2: *TCU, 1 p.m.
May 5: Pitt, 6:30 p.m.
May 7: *Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m.
May 8: *Oklahoma, 4 p.m.
May 9: *Oklahoma, 1 p.m.
May 14: Miami (Ohio), 6:30 p.m.
May 15: Miami (Ohio), 4 p.m.
May 16: Miami (Ohio), 1 p.m.
May 20: *at Texas, TBA
May 21: *at Texas, TBA
May 22: *at Texas, TBA
May 26-30: Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championships at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
* Big 12 Conference game