The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 21, 2014

WVU trying to shake skid in Big 12 tourney

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia University baseball team obviously couldn’t have picked a worse time to fall into a sharp slump.

The Mountaineers went from a hot spell (11 wins, 3 defeats) to ending the regular season with a seven-game losing streak that included three-game sweeps at both Kansas and Texas Tech.

In between those back-to-back road trips, WVU dropped its final non-conference contest at Maryland — a ballclub it had defeated earlier in the year.

West Virginia, now 27-24 overall and 9-14 in the Big 12 Conference, is in Oklahoma City for the Big 12 tournament.

The Mountaineers are seeded sixth in the nine-team field. They face Kansas, the No. 3 seed, at 10 a.m. today. The Jayhawks finished third in the conference standings (39-21 overall and 15-9 Big 12).

This opening first-round game is to be televised on Fox College Sports affiliates. If WVU loses, it would face the loser of No. 2 TCU and No. 7 Baylor on Thursday, at 10 a.m.

The winners would play each other later the next day.  

It is a double-elimination tourney. This means if you lose the first game, you do get a second shot in the second round on Thursday.

West Virginia is 16-20 for games on the road this season. So it has been truly tough for Coach Randy Mazey’s club away from home.

But the Mountaineers remain confident that they still have a shot at earing an NCAA regional tournament berth. It would be WVU’s first since 1996 when Greg Van Zant was the baseball coach.

Mazey has said he still feels good about his team’s standing in the Big 12 picture.

While WVU fared fairly well overall during the 2014 campaign, it managed to sweep regular-season series from only two Big 12 rivals. Those were three games from ninth-place Kansas State and two games from Baylor. (A third contest had to be cancelled because of inclement weather.)

West Virginia plans to go with its No. 1 starting pitcher Harrison Musgrave (5-2, 2.32 ERA) in today’s tourney opener.

Mazey was quoted as saying there’s no doubt in his players’ minds or his coaches’ minds, that the Mountaineers will defeat Kansas.

Ironically, last year West Virginia swept a three-game regular season series from Kansas at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley. But the Mountaineers then fell to the Jayhawks in the first round of the Big 12 tourney.

Earlier this month, Kansas swept a three-game set at home against WVU. That obviously raises the question: Can the Mountaineers turn history in reverse and knock off the Jayhawks today in Oklahoma City?

The NCAA will announce its 64-team field on May 26, after all of the conference postseason tourney results are in.

All WVU fans will be wishing the team well, I’m sure!

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