With a little more than two weeks left to go in the 2014 season, the West Virginia baseball team appeared to be in good shape to qualify for a regional in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.
It wasn’t meant to be.
A late season slide during which the Mountaineers lost nine of their last ten games cost them, as they were among the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, according to the selection committee.
After the big splash Mazey and the Mountaineers made in their first season in the Big 12 in 2013, finishing No. 6 in the conference and failing to reach 30 wins in 2014 may appear to be a setback.
Considering just how much disarray this program was in before the arrival of Randy Mazey in 2013, the fact that West Virginia was on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament in 2014 should be proof enough that this team is certainly headed in the right direction.
Sure, the Mountaineers may have shocked the college baseball world with how successful they were in a conference as tough as the Big 12 in 2013, but any team can have one surprise season every so often.
The Mountaineers proved they belonged in 2014. This team weathered one of the toughest schedules in the conference, and perhaps the nation, and still managed to be more than competitive.
The trio of Bobby Boyd, Billy Fleming and Ryan McBroom finished atop the Big 12 in batting average, leading a lineup that finished No. 2 in the conference batting with a .287 average.
In a league with some of the best pitching talent in the nation, the Mountaineers held their own and more.
Despite the uncertainty of who will be returning to campus next season after the MLB draft, West Virginia appears to have the pieces in place to remain one of the top offenses in the Big 12 for seasons to come.
Left-hander Harrison Musgrave came into the season as the ace of the pitching staff and continued his domination of the Big 12’s hitters, ranking No. 2 in the conference with 87 strikeouts in 2014.
If he decides to come back for his senior season in 2015, Musgrave will more than likely continue to build on his reputation as one of the best pitching talents in the conference and make West Virginia’s staff all the more difficult to deal with.
After their surprise run during the 2013 season, Mazey and his coaching staff had nothing but positives to dwell on during the offseason leading up to 2014. They won’t have that luxury this summer.
The sting of just missing the boat for the NCAA Tournament may be just what this team needs to take the next step of its development in 2015.
There is plenty of talent on this roster for West Virginia to become a mainstay at the top of the Big 12 standings in the future.
If Mazey and his staff can find a way to remedy the problems that led to the team’s nosedive in the latter stages of the 2014 season, the Mountaineers could certainly be on the other side of the bubble in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.