The West Virginia Mountaineer baseball team was still in the early stages of their season before the NCAA and conference officials cancelled the remainder of the season due to COVID-19.
The Mountaineers were expected to have somewhat of a rebuilding season or possibly a slow start after losing key players to graduation and the MLB draft from last year's NCAA tournament team.
The bats were hot and cold to start the season, which is expected, but the pitching really stepped up to begin the year. The lone returning starter, Jackson Wolfe, was 3-1 on the season and led the starters with a 1.05 ERA.
The combined ERA of the starting rotation that featured Ryan Bergert, Jackson Wolfe, Jake Carr, and Tyler Strechay was 2.03. And although the midweek staff had their troubles in their first two appearances of the season, they combined for a no-hitter in an 8-0 win over Kent State and the following week, shutout Liberty in the final game of the season.
“We were cooking pretty good. We had just beaten Liberty – shut them out. Doing really well in our midweek games again. We had thrown a no-hitter in the midweek game before that. Shutout a good Liberty team and 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 of and the health and the safety of the kids,” continued Mazey. “And then the next 48 hours who knew what was going to happen. At first, we thought we were going to miss that series and then, it was we were going to miss next week at Kansas. By a day later, they said, ‘well, it's extended into the George Mason series’, our first home weekend’. It just kept going and going, and we all know what happened after that.”
“Just trying to deliver the message to the kids and be the go-between with the administration and the team – see the looks on their faces and the shock and disbelief and the bewilderment – it was a whirlwind there for about 48 to 72 hours,” added Mazey.
Without a doubt, the players were disappointed to have their season abruptly ending, but their skipper gave them some words of wisdom once the pandemic hit that is relatable to us all.
“I like to steal quotes from famous people and pass them on to people who need to hear them,” said Mazey. “The first thing I told them when this all went down, I said, ‘The number one philosophy you need to have is from the Boy Scouts of America, be prepared. Because this thing is coming in full force to West Virginia. It may not get here as soon as it gets to other places but its coming. So, we need to find a way to prepare for it and do your part with personal hygiene and staying away from people and listing to what everybody says.
“The second quote I told them is one of my own in my 14 rules to live by, number seven is never panic. Panic never helps you and things are going to get pretty bad here for a little while but as long as you stay calm every problem has a solution if you just try and find it, and this one will as well.
“And the third quote I told them, I stole from Abraham Lincoln I think, ‘This too shall pass’. And, we just got to ride out the storm here, and do your part while it’s here, and try your best to stay safe and stay healthy and keep your family healthy and it will pass. We don’t know how long it going to take. It could be weeks, a month or a year but at some point, it’s going to pass, and when it does, we need to look back and make sure we have learned something from it, which I believe we all have.”
Currently, Mazey said the team is “doing what we’re all doing. Trying to stay safe and stay at home and do their part not to spread this thing.”
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