MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–When the West Virginia University baseball team’s season came to a screeching halt in March, the team was off to one of its best starts in recent years.
That may come as a surprise, considering the Mountaineers’ success under head coach Randy Mazey.
WVU was on the way to the Pittsburgh International Airport when the weekend series against Texas Tech was canceled. It was the conference opener for the Mountaineers and Red Raiders.
Then the season was postponed a few more series, then the College World Series was canceled, followed by the cancellation of all Big 12 spring sports.
It was tough to swallow for all involved, including Mazey.
“We were cooking pretty good,” he said on Wednesday morning’s zoom conference call. “We had just beaten Liberty, shut them out. We were doing really well in our midweek games again. We had thrown a no-hitter in the midweek game before that. We shut out a good Liberty team and we were on our way to Texas Tech feeling pretty good about ourselves when the news of the virus came crashing down.
“We were almost at the Pittsburgh Airport when we decided to turn the bus around and come back in the interest and the health and safety of the kids. Then the next 48 hours, who knew what was going to happen? At first, we thought we were going to miss that series. Then it was we were going to miss this series and next week at Kansas. And then about a day later they said ‘it’s extended into the George Mason series, the first home weekend. It just kept going and going and going. And we all know what happened after that.
He went on to add.
“But just trying to deliver the message to the kids and be the go between with the administration and the team and o see the looks on their faces, the shock, the disbelief and the bewilderment. It was a whirlwind there for about 48-72 hours.”
However, the seasoned coach tried to find the silver lining in a trying, disappointing time.
“I like to steal quotes from famous people and pass them on to the team,” Mazey said. “I told them when this first came down, the only words you need to know come from the Boy Scouts of America – ‘be prepared’ because this thing is coming in full force in West Virginia. It may not get here as soon as other places, but it’s coming so we need to find a way to prepare for it.
“The second quote I gave them was my own … in my 14 rules to live by No. 7 is ‘Never Panic.’ Panic never helps you and things are going to get pretty bad here for a while. As long as you stay calm every problem has a solution, this one as well,” he said.
“The third quote I stole from Abraham Lincoln – ‘This too shall pass.’ You just got to ride out the storm here and stay safe and healthy and it will pass. I don’t know how long it will take, weeks, months, or a year but it will pass.”
Now that the dust has settled some everyone is safe and doing their part to stay that way.
For Dillon Meadows, Kevin Brophy and Braden Zarbnisky, their senior year had ended when it had barely begun.
Since then, the NCAA has allowed the spring athletes to come back for their senior seasons if they chose and the other baseball players won’t lose this year either.
Mazey stated that the three haven’t made a decision on their futures but they have ample time still.
While next year the NCAA is limiting roster spots or scholarships, this poses a problem in two or three years down the road.
” It’s moving forward because I think we had 12 or 14 freshman on the team this year and 12 or 14 incoming freshman and to give the current freshman their year back and for them to be freshman again, this coming year we are going to have a freshman class of over 25 people and that’s fine when you don’t have a roster limit but when they say the roster limit is only good for one year then next year owe are back to a 35 man roster limit and we will have 25 to 30 sophomores in one class on the team on a 35 man roster,” Mazey said. “That can’t be good. I know what they were trying to do by letting the seniors come back but they really need to address baseball moving forward. The encouraging thing about the decision that was made was that they did say that since college baseball is a unique entity, we’re going to have to take a more in-depth look at college baseball.
” I’ve been waiting 35 year for that to happen, for someone to take e a look at college baseball and look at our challenges that we have that other people don’t. We’re the only roster limited team out there. We’re the only team that has a professional draft each that takes your kids. In a normal year we lose 20 percent of our incoming class, 20 percent of our current team. We don’t know what our team is going to look like from year-to-year. I can’t wait for the day when people get together and take a look at what’s best for college baseball moving forward.”
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS