Mazey already changing the face of WVU baseball
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 08:10
It was a chilly, overcast evening in Morgantown last April.
Basketball season had recently come to a close, and my Friday-night agenda yielded no obligations.
My first Hawley Field visit of the season was in order.
The Mountaineers were a few games under .500 and were battling Villanova in a midseason tilt.
I had been to countless games at the – for a lack of a better term – outdated venue situated behind the Coliseum.
But this trip was one I would never forget.
I was among 313 in attendance and watched WVU trail 7-5 after four innings, and the Mountaineers appeared to be playing fairly well against the Wildcats – a mediocre foe in the Big East Conference.
And then, the infamous fifth inning arrived, where the visitors would tally 17 runs.
It was painful to watch as a casual spectator.
How could a team possibly allow 17 runs before recording three outs?
Fast forward four hours, and West Virginia fell with a score of 26-11.
WVU baseball has had some low points since I began following the program in the mid 2000s, but this was the lowest.
Head coach Greg Van Zant had been at the helm for 18 years but never seemed to make any improvement. It was as if his program was in neutral for nearly two decades.
And, after the embarrassment against Villanova that Friday night in April, some could argue the program was in reverse.
Just before the 2012 season ended, however, it was announced the veteran Van Zant would not be returning for his 19th season.
And, shortly after, TCU associate head coach Randy Mazey was tabbed the replacement.
Mazey, a proven head coach at both East Carolina and Charleston Southern, is now in his fourth month as head coach of the Mountaineers.
In those four months, the plans for a new, multi-million dollar stadium have been created, the Mountaineers have held their first-ever Alumni game, and Mazey has announced one of the most impressive recruiting classes in program history.
Just last Sunday, in an exhibition against Potomac State, I returned to Hawley Field for the first time since that gloomy spring evening.
I found Mazey’s Mountaineers in a new dugout on the third-base side, sporting a new logo on their hat and, ultimately, playing a new era of baseball at West
WVU would go on to win the exhibition 18-4.
But that’s not important.
What’s important is the mass changes already evident within the West Virginia baseball program.
There is a different feeling among fans.
Baseball has never been valued in Morgantown, but it’s not that the fans don’t appreciate America’s pastime. They have never had the luxury of being provided with a quality product.
Years of inconsistency and disappointment from the Mountaineers combined with 20-straight losing seasons from the only professional baseball organization within 200 miles of the area has led this trend.
Most importantly, though, is the new-found morale of the players.
There is a confidence and assurance among team members that I’ve never seen at Hawley Field.
Randy Mazey has changed the way of life of WVU baseball in just four short months.
Imagine what he can accomplish after, say, an 18-year stint at the helm.
I don’t want to mislead you or get too carried away in such a short period of time.
You need to be aware of what’s going on behind the Coliseum.
After Mazey and his staff get four more months under their belt, take the time to observe the action on a chilly, overcast evening.
Although the weather may be similar to that Friday evening in April, I guarantee the product sporting the Old Gold and Blue on the field will be different.