The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 21, 2013

Big 12 shifts tourney format

The Big 12 Conference will still play the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship this week at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Okla., but in the wake of the devastating storm that blew through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday, there will be some major changes to the format.

Originally set to begin today with a double-elimination tournament format, the championship will instead begin on Thursday and institute a pool play format.

“We debated canceling the tournament in deference to the devastating tragedy in Moore but were encouraged by Oklahoma City leaders and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association to go forward,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “We believe the tournament can serve as a testament to the strong Oklahoma spirit and to the resiliency of the Oklahoma people.”

“We are very appreciative of the consideration by the participating teams and the Big 12 Conference,” said Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett. “We encouraged and supported the decision to play the championship in a format comfortable to the Big 12.”

The Big 12 has used the pool play format before. This time, it will feature two pools. The first will include Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor. The other will be made up of Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Kansas. Each team will be guaranteed three pool games, and the team with the best record in each pool will advance to the championship game on Sunday.

The games on Thursday through Saturday will be aired on Fox College Sports, while Sunday's championship game will be on FSN.

WVU, the third seed, will open play Thursday at 4 p.m. central time against sixth-seeded Kansas. The Mountaineers will play No. 7 TCU on Friday at 4 p.m. and No. 2 Oklahoma State Saturday at 4 p.m.

“The purpose of the tournament, in my mind, has really shifted focus,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey. “There are discussions about donating a lot of the proceeds to the victims of the tragedy, so win, lose or draw, I’m excited to play it, just so we can help the people down here. That makes the tournament worthwhile.

“This is my first experience with the (pool play) format. So it’s going to be hard for me to comment whether I like it more until I get through it. But I like our chances. Our guys are motivated, and we’re not playing for ourselves. We’re playing for other people. When you have such a motivating factor, who knows what you’re capable of.”

Regular season champion Kansas State is the top seed in the eight-team bracket.

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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