The Times West Virginian

WVU 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
WVU Sports
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU men’s basketball non-conference schedule announced

    West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has announced the 2014-15 men’s basketball non-conference schedule.

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos