By Cam Huffman
Could West Virginia University’s baseball team be taking the field at Linda K. Epling Stadium this spring for a Big 12 Conference series?
That’s certainly the hope of stadium owner Doug Epling, and signs seem to be pointing to that possibility.
Epling spoke to new WVU head coach Randy Mazey and Mountaineer Athletic Club executive director Matt Borman when the two visited the stadium for a West Virginia Miners game July 28 against Butler, and the last thing they told him was that they were going to try to get a 2013 series in Beckley.
Epling said he hasn’t heard from WVU officials since, but Director of Athletics Oliver Luck officially announced Tuesday that the Mountaineers will be playing nine Big 12 Conference games at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
Texas Tech (March 22-24), Oklahoma (May 3-5) and TCU (May 10-12) will all visit the home of the West Virginia Power for three-game series. A location for a fourth Big 12 series against Kansas, scheduled for April 26-28, will be announced at a later date, according to the WVU release.
WVU officials were not immediately available for comment on that fourth series, but Epling is hopeful it will be played in Beckley.
“If they left one open, I would think we would get it,” he said.
Marshall is already scheduled to play one Conference USA series at Linda K. Epling Stadium against East Carolina this spring. Epling would also love to add the Mountaineers to the spring schedule.
“It would be pretty exciting,” he admitted.
The ultimate goal, however, is to host both of the state’s Division I college programs at the same time – in a head-to-head matchup.
“That has not been explored yet,” said Epling of a possible WVU-Marshall game at a neutral site. “But that would be a great thing. We’d love to have that in Beckley.”
WVU is hoping to have a new stadium in which to play its baseball games by the start of the 2014 season. Until then, though, the administration is not comfortable hosting Big 12 baseball — a major step up from the Big East — at the Mountaineers’ home at Hawley Field.
Appalachian Power Park, a 6,200 seat facility that opened in 2005, was a perfect fit. But the all-turf Linda K. Epling Stadium, which opened in 2010, also has all the necessary amenities to host a Big 12 series, Epling said. The home of the 2012 Prospect League champion Miners seats 2,600 fans.