Northern Baseball on the Rise
By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
July 28, 2012 08:08 PM
|Randy Mazey says Stony Brook and Kent State gives Northern baseball teams hope in the future.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Randy Mazey has developed a reputation for being one of the best recruiters in college baseball. He turned Charleston Southern into an NCAA tournament contender in the mid-1990s before moving on to do the same at East Carolina in the early 2000s.
During the last six years while he was at TCU, it was Mazey’s strong pitching staff that helped the Horned Frogs reach the College World Series in 2010.
Now, Mazey is ready to turn around a West Virginia baseball program that last reached the NCAA tournament in 1996. Getting the Mountaineers to the College World Series will be a challenge in this part of the country, but not impossible, Mazey says.
A couple of years ago he did a study on the total number of teams that qualified for the College World Series as part of a proposal by the college baseball coaches association for expanding the season into the summer.
What he found was not surprising.
“I looked at college baseball over a 20-year period and there were 160 participants in the College World Series,” he said. “Then I drew an imaginary line across the country and the delineation was if your average temperature was over 55 degrees then you were a southern school and if it was below that you were a northern school.
“Only like 14 teams out of 160 were from the north, and that was when Wichita State was good; Oregon State went a couple of times and Notre Dame went one year.”
Sobering news for West Virginia baseball supporters, indeed, but what is heartening to Mazey is the recent success Virginia has had and what Kent State and Stony Brook were able to accomplish this season.
“That was exciting to see two teams come from here and Virginia has been good, so I think it’s starting to shift a little bit to the north,” he said. “I wish we could play college baseball in the summertime. That study I did was a complete study on why we should be playing college baseball in the summertime.”
For now, Mazey will have to battle some pretty good local programs for players. Ohio State and Penn State have been to super regionals in recent years, Maryland had an RPI in the 20s for a good part of this season before failing to reach the ACC tournament, and Pitt’s program is going to get a big boost when it gets into the ACC.
“The biggest thing is getting to a regional,” Mazey explained. “The only way to win one is to get to one. If you get into it then it becomes a three- or four-game season and at that point, just like Stony Brook or Kent State proved, anyone can win a regional or win a super regional. You just have to get hot at the right time.”
Mazey does have thing in his favor: a lot of northeastern kids still have a tough time with geography. Many of them still consider West Virginia to be located in the Deep South. And Mazey is just fine with that.
“If my geography is correct, we are below the Mason-Dixon Line so we are considered a southern school,” he noted. “We will repeat that on several occasions with those types of kids.”Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History available in bookstores this fall. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.
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