Only two weeks have passed, but it seems like a long time since West Virginia was mired in a seven-game losing streak and in danger of not qualifying for any kind of postseason play.
The Mountaineers, who capped off a three-game sweep of Kansas State with a 6-1 win Sunday, are now playing some of their best baseball of the season. Largely due to an extended offensive outburst, West Virginia has won six straight games and has evened its conference record at 7-7.
For the first time this season, the Mountaineers were able to finish a three game sweep of a conference opponent, something head coach Randy Mazey said proved a lot about his team.
“Opportunities come by not that often in life, as they don’t in college baseball. That’s the second time we’ve been in this position where we’ve won the first two games on the weekend.
“This was a huge game just to prove to us that if we’re in this situation again, we’re starting to get confidence in the third game of a series,” he said.
With a little over three weeks left in the season, the Mountaineers are in position to qualify for the Big 12 tournament. Because of the nature of tournament play, Mazey said getting into the habit of stringing several wins together in a series during the regular season will ultimately benefit a team during the postseason.
“When you get into postseason tournaments and that type of thing, you’ve got to play a lot of games in a short period of time, and it’s good to know that you can still come out and grind one out in game three,” he said.
After starting the conference season with a 2-0 record, the Mountaineers stumbled in a big way. The team was swept on the road against TCU in early April and dropped three in a row at home against Oklahoma State April 11-13.
While their prospects for making any sort of run during Big 12 play seemed bleak at the time, Mazey said the Mountineers never let the losing streak get to their heads.
“This league is tough. We never got down on anybody and stayed positive. We knew it was going to turn on us and right now we’re feeling pretty confident at the plate, on the mound and on defense,” he said.
Now riding a six-game winning streak, which started with a come-from-behind victory that clinched a series win on the road against Oklahoma April 19, Mazey said the true identity of this West Virginia team is starting to reveal itself.
“The character of this team is starting to show up,” he said. “And the big comeback win against Oklahoma last Saturday compelled us and proved to our guys that no matter what, we’re never out of this thing.”
While the regular season beginning to wind down, West Virginia has climbed its way out of the Big 12’s basement and placed itself firmly in the middle of the pack in the conference. Finishing No. 3 in the league like they did in 2013 may seem unlikely, but if the Mountaineers continue their recent pace, it might not be impossible.