Mazey, WVU Continue Help in Oklahoma - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mazey, WVU Continue Help in Oklahoma

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MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia baseball team just so happened to be the first Big 12 member to make the trip to Oklahoma City for the conference tournament.

Coach Randy Mazey and his Mountaineers had just wrapped up a weekend series in Stillwater, taking on Oklahoma State and rather than head home to Morgantown, they remained on the road.

On Sunday, tornados touched down around the state and for many of the players and staff members on hand, it was a new experience. Nothing could prepare them for the devastation that took place just miles down the road from the team hotel a day later when a tornado tore through Moore, Okla. and parts of Oklahoma City.

"Our guys, being from where they're from, aren't used to tornados and can't appreciate the impact, but I think they can now because we watched it unfold four or five miles down the road," Mazey said in a teleconference on Tuesday.

The Mountaineers, having practiced earlier in the day, immediately felt the urge to do whatever they could to help the victims of the terrible storm. The first thought that came to them was to head out to the nearest Walmart and stock some carts full of clothes and other items that may have been necessary for someone who had just lost so much.

As word of their actions began to spread through social media, there was a strong, positive reaction that resonated far beyond just the WVU fan base with appreciative words coming from all over the Big 12 and the sporting world.

"I think it meant a lot to them," Mazey said of the impact on his team. "I think 20 years from now, when they look back on their college baseball career to the baseball tournament out in Oklahoma City, I have my doubts that they're going to remember the games at all. They're just going to remember what we did for the families and the impact that they've had on people's lives."

While shopping, the Mountaineers came across a woman named Jamie who had lost her home and for hours way unaware of whether or not her children were safe. Thankfully, her family was reunited, and she had come to the same Walmart in an effort to buy the exact sort of items that the WVU staff and players were there to pick up.

A video from the team's official website shows Jamie hugging players from the team, showing her appreciation for the work they decided to do. Coach Mazey believed seeing that tangible evidence of the impact their actions could have inspired the group to do more.

On Tuesday, they are heading to a nearby location to deliver the goods they purchased the night before.

"We're going right now to take all of the supplies we bought from Walmart to a location where they're telling us a lot of the victims are at," Mazey said. "Hopefully we can get out there and hand stuff out to the people as opposed to dropping it off. We're just trying to find ways to help."

Earlier in the day, the Big 12 announced that its conference tournament would have a new format, electing to start pool play a day later rather than the double-elimination scheduled for Wednesday.  

The Mountaineers will play three games from Thursday through Saturday, each with a 4 p.m. CT start, before the winner of the two pools face off in Sunday's championship game.

"The purpose of the tournament, in my mind, has really shifted focus," said Mazey. "There are discussions of donating a lot of the proceeds from the tournament to the victims of the tragedy, so win, lose or draw, I'm excited to play it just so we can continue to help the people here."

Mazey said he is favor of postponing the tournament as long as is possible in order to get as much of the search and rescue portion of the tornado response process out of the way. He said he can't imagine heading out to a diamond and batting around baseballs while people are such a short distance away still searching for members of their families.

In the meantime, it is clear that Mazey hopes to do whatever he and his players can to help bring back some sense of normalcy to an area facing such confusion and heartache right now.

"It's amazing the strength of people in times of tragedy and how people come together," he said.

These Mountaineers have exceeded expectations with their play all season long, but no accomplishment in the sport of baseball can compare to what Coach Mazey and his team set out to do when it became clear to them that a tournament was no longer the most important focus of their trip to Oklahoma. 

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