West Virginia baseball post Super Regional: An inside look

By Gene Galin

Chapel Hill, NC – In a dramatic and highly charged atmosphere, West Virginia University’s baseball team faced off against the University of North Carolina in a Super Regional showdown that had fans on the edge of their seats. The game, filled with tension, strategy, and standout performances, culminated in a post-game press conference where the Mountaineers’ coach and players shared their thoughts on the intense competition.

The Battle on the Field

The West Virginia Mountaineers and the North Carolina Tar Heels clashed in a game that showcased the very best of college baseball. Both teams displayed remarkable skill and determination, with the game swinging back and forth in a thrilling fashion. Coach Randy Mazey’s strategic choices and the players’ execution were central to the Mountaineers’ performance.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever coached in 35 years of coaching,” Coach Mazey remarked, highlighting the exceptional display by pitcher Derek Clark. “I don’t know how much tickets were going for on StubHub today, but whatever you spent to come to this game, you dang sure got your money’s worth.”

Strategic Decisions: A Closer Look

Pitching Masterclass

Derek Clark’s performance was a highlight, with his ability to stay composed under pressure and deliver when it mattered most. Clark’s exceptional control and endurance were pivotal. “I don’t have any interest in fist fighting Derek Clark on the mound,” Mazey joked, emphasizing Clark’s resilience and capability.

The DH Dilemma

A significant decision was the inclusion of Kyle Hess as the designated hitter, a move that paid off handsomely. “He went to a black magic bat 24 hours ago,” Coach Mazey explained, “and we had a conversation behind the batting cage. He had a great round of BP, and hitters are crazy people. They get confidence from the dumbest things sometimes.”

The Emotional Rollercoaster: Player Perspectives

Derek Clark: The Pitching Prodigy

Clark’s performance was not just about his skill but also his mental toughness. Reflecting on his approach, Clark said, “I try to always have confidence in myself. I’ve thrown a ton of innings over the last four years, so if I was a freshman in that moment, it would not have been like that.”

Kyle Hess: A Change in Approach

Hess’s switch to a two-piece bat symbolized more than just a change in equipment; it was a shift in mindset. “My whole life I swung a one-piece, and that’s the main difference. Two-piece just has a little flex to it,” Hess explained. His newfound confidence was evident in his performance, adding a crucial dimension to the team’s offense.

The Transfer Portal: A Double-Edged Sword

Opportunities and Challenges

The transfer portal has been a contentious topic in college sports, and Coach Mazey addressed its impact candidly. “Everybody blasts the transfer portal. It’s the ruination of college baseball,” he noted. Yet, the success of players like former Division II players like Clark and Hess, who came through the portal, underscores its potential benefits.

Building the Team

For West Virginia, the transfer portal has been a tool for building a competitive team. “These guys are performing like this at this stage of the game. Are you kidding me with the opportunities that these guys have and what they’ve done for the Mountaineers?” Mazey’s remarks highlight how strategic use of the portal can enhance a team’s capabilities.

The Fan Experience: A Unique Atmosphere

The Heart of West Virginia

West Virginia University enjoys a unique position as a central figure in the state’s sports culture. “We don’t have pro teams in our state. We only have two Division I schools, it’s us and Marshall,” Mazey explained.

A State United

The support from fans was a crucial element in creating an electrifying atmosphere. “We probably have 90% of the fan base,” Mazey said. “They had 4,000 fans here; we had almost two million fans watching this game. That’s so unusual.” This widespread support underscores the deep connection between the team and its community.

Looking Ahead: The Future of West Virginia Baseball

Coach Mazey’s Vision

With a track record of success and a commitment to continuous improvement, Coach Mazey is optimistic about the future. “We’ve done a lot of things in the last 12 months that have never been done at West Virginia. We won a Big 12 championship last year; we got the trophy to prove it. We won a regional this year,” he proudly recounted.

Leadership Transition

Assistant Coach Steve Sabins, who has been with Mazey for nine years, is set to take over the reins. “Coach Sabins knows what it takes to win at West Virginia,” Mazey said. “I have all the faith in the world in him.” This continuity in leadership promises to build on the program’s recent successes and aim for new heights.

It was a great college baseball game

The Super Regional showdown between West Virginia and North Carolina was a testament to the excitement and unpredictability of college baseball. From standout individual performances to strategic decisions and the unwavering support of the fans, the game had it all.

In the words of Coach Mazey, “That was a great college baseball game. I’ve learned over time to try not to feel bad when something like this happens. It’s just a great game to watch, great energy in the stands.” For the fans, players, and coaches, it was a game that will be remembered for years to come.