The Times West Virginian

Sports

May 22, 2013

WVU baseball team helps those in tornado’s path

MORGANTOWN — In so many ways it was a day that called for celebration.

Randy Mazey’s West Virginia baseball team, the team that was supposed to finish last in its first Big 12 season, was sitting in third place on what should have been the eve of the conference tournament.

One of his pitchers, Bridgeport’s own Harrison Musgrave, had been named the conference’s Pitcher of the Year, infielder Ryan McBroom and designated hitter Matt Frazier had earned second team all-conference honors, and outfielder Bobby Boyd, infielder Billy Fleming, catcher lan Filauro, outfielder Jacob Rice, outfielder Brady Wilson and infielder Ryan Tuntland had been given honorable mention.

It had been a season unlike any that anyone expected played out by a team that went beyond the wildest expectations.

“It’s been as close to a coach’s dream team as you can get,” Mazey would say on Tuesday, but in the end the baseball accomplishments really were a small part of it, for this was a group that rose to unseen heights when it found itself caught in the midst of a human tragedy it could not have imagined.

The regular season was over Saturday at Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers headed into Oklahoma City to prepare for the tournament, only to be caught up in a killer tornado that changed everyone’s outlook on life.

On Sunday the tornados raged through Shawnee, close enough to get some attention but not of the nature that the very world in which the Mountaineers existed came undone.

The next day a twister, two miles wide, on the ground for 20 miles with winds up to 200 mph, destroyed everything in its sight.

The WVU team was but four miles from the scene.

The Mountaineers swung into action, offering to help in any way they could.

“As soon as we decided we were safe, I got on the phone with the Oklahoma City police,” Mazey said. “They transferred me to the Moore police, who gave us the command center.”

WVU was ready to roll up their sleeves like Mountaineers do, to dig in the rubble, to offer any aid they could, but they were told no one was being allowed in the area other than immediate family.

“They didn’t want people getting in the way,” Mazey said.

So it was, instead, they went off to a local Walmart. If they could offer rescue assistance, they could bring supplies.

These, you must remember, are kids who had not been experienced with tornadoes, who had never been in the path of one, who found themselves watching from four miles away. They had gathered in front of the televisions and seen the destruction, heard of the missing children.

“We ran into a woman in Walmart who was a victim,” Mazey said. “That meant a lot to the kids. They saw tangible evidence. A couple of hours earlier she didn’t know if her kids were safe in school in Moore.”

Turned out, she was shopping for the same kinds of things the baseball team was compiling — shoes, underwear, shirts, flashlights, necessities.

“We rerouted her to the checkout line and we gave her some of the things she needed,” Mazey said.

The rest, purchased with money that will come through the “Friends of Baseball” booster group, was gathered and late Tuesday afternoon, the team was to deliver the items for distribution.

“We wanted to take the supplies to a location where some of the victims are at. Hopefully we can and drop them off to the people as opposed to just dropping it off at a distribution point,” Mazey said.

As for the Big 12 Tournament, the storm has forced a change in the format from round-robin to pool play with each team guaranteed three games, the two teams with the best records in round-robin play meeting for the title.

West Virginia opens with Kansas while Oklahoma State and TCU play the other game in Pool 2. Pool 1 matches Oklahoma and Baylor and Texas Tech and top-seeded Kansas State, whose coach Brad Hill won Coach of the Year honors over Mazey.

“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.”

The conference was encouraged to proceed with the championship by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

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

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG Post 17 falls short in Area II championship

    Sometimes getting a bad game out of your system is what a team needs.
    Post 17 Fairmont is hoping that they’ve now gotten all of its bad games out of the way, falling to Post 2 Morgantown, 10-0, via a 7th inning mercy rule, crowning Morgantown Area II American Legion champions.
    After playing 18 innings the night before, Fairmont couldn’t seem to get anything going at East Fairmont High School Sunday afternoon.
    As rain clouds loomed over the field, so, too, did one settle in over Post 17’s offense, Fairmont collecting just four hits the entire game.
    “Definitely not one of our better games as a team,” Fairmont’s Austin Norman said of his team’s performance. “We’ll come up tomorrow, hit and get on the same page.”

    July 28, 2014 7 Photos

  • Harrison’s 4 hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • MLB inducts newest members into Hall of Fame

    Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

    July 27, 2014

  • Post 17 falls short of Area II championship

    Sometimes getting a bad game out of your system is what a team needs.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos