The West Virginia University baseball team created the kind of buzz that has been absent for 17 years in the Mountain State. This team nearly won a Big 12 regular season title, and came very close to playing for a Big 12 tournament title.
The 64-team NCAA Tournament field has been announced, and it was not surprising to see West Virginia left out of the tournament.
However, the signs are there that WVU will still be playing baseball into June in the near future.
Head Coach Randy Mazey led this program to quite a turnaround in his first season at WVU. West Virginia University produced the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in Harrison Musgrave. The program also won 10 more games in its first season in the Big 12 than it did a year ago in its final season in the Big East.
With a new ballpark on the horizon and the belief that this program can play with some of the best teams in the country, the future for the baseball team certainly looks bright.
WVU was picked to finish last in the Big 12. The Mountaineers finished third and nearly advanced to the Big 12 Tournament championship game.
Many of the core players on this team are expected to return next season. The team loses just four seniors. The ace of the pitching staff, Sophomore Harrison Musgrave, should be back for another year. Recruiting should also get a nice bump for Mazey and his staff after this successful season.
Mazey had confidence in his players and they in turn bought into what he was preaching. He got their attention early in his first season with the team when he took them on a 12-mile hike on the rail trail.
"When I told them that they looked at me like I was crazy," Mazey said. "The idea was to give them something that when you first hear it you think it is insurmountable. The more you think about it, if you just put one foot in front of the other long enough you will eventually get 12 miles if you just keep going."
The season followed along that idea. It began slowly with the Mountaineers winning just eight of their first 20 games. After that, they got some confidence and kept adding to it with the results showing. Eventually they were in the mix for a Big 12 regular season title.
"This team never surprises me," Mazey said. "I knew right away when we all met at that trail head that we had a special team here."
The foundation is in place. Now Mazey and the rest of the Mountaineers need to build on this success to turn it into an NCAA Tournament appearance. WVU has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 1996.