West Virginia rides coach Randy Mazey’s final season to 1st super regional in program history

Randy Mazey is going to have to put off retirement for at least another week, and he hopes longer than that.

The celebratory double ice water bath dumped on him Sunday was evidence West Virginia’s season would keep going with the next stop being Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the program’s first super regional.

The Mountaineers, who had won just 12 of 40 games over 14 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, are fresh off winning three straight in the Tucson (Arizona) Regional. The regional title was a pleasant surprise considering they ended the regular season on a mediocre run and dropped both their games in the Big 12 Tournament.

West Virginia (36-22) hopes the momentum carries over when it takes on No. 4 national seed North Carolina (45-14) in a best-of-three series that starts Friday. The winner advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 14.

Picked sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Mountaineers struggled near the bottom of the conference in batting average but rode the solid pitching of league ERA leader Derek Clark and others as well as the understanding this was their coach’s final season.

“I knew from the start of this year we’d have the chance to do something special,” All-Big 12 junior infielder JJ Wetherholt said. “All of us have come together and we’ve used it as a reason to motivate us. And when we don’t feel well, we can remember that this is coach’s last year. So it doesn’t matter how we feel, we’ve got to go out and do something cool for him.”

Mazey is the first to say this journey has not been about himself.

After a 10-6 victory over Grand Canyon on Sunday, he said that winning at West Virginia “means a lot to a lot of people” because the state has no franchises in the four major pro sports and only two Division I colleges.

“We represent a ton of people, not just our university and our community, but 1.8 million people in the state of West Virginia that I know are really, really proud of all of these guys right now and what they accomplished,” he said.

A native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the 58-year-old Mazey is in his 12th season at West Virginia and previously was a head coach at Charleston Southern and East Carolina.

West Virginia opened a $21 million ballpark in 2015, two years after his arrival, and all of the program’s top 10 crowds have occurred in the past five seasons. His accolades at West Virginia are many, including an NCAA berth in 2017 for the first time in 21 years, hosting a regional in 2019 for the first time since 1955, and winning a share of the school’s first Big 12 regular-season title in 2023.

“It means the world that we’re able to do what we’re doing right now,” pitcher Aidan Major said. “To do another first in program history, which it seems like we’ve done every year since I’ve been here, it’s incredible.”

Mazey announced last summer this season would be his last, citing his desire to spend more time with his wife and two children. While preparing for the regional in Arizona, Mazey missed his son Weston’s game in the West Virginia high school state tournament.

In 2021, Mazey witnessed Weston suffer a fractured skull, a brain injury and several broken bones in his face after colliding full speed with another player trying to field a fly ball at practice. Weston, nicknamed “Wammer,” spent a week in intensive care at a hospital.

Randy and Amanda Mazey teamed up with Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Mountaineer alumnus Jeff Hostetler to raise funds to support families of other children with serious injuries. In 1999, Hostetler’s 8-year-old son suffered several broken vertebrae in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

To date, the Mazeys have raised nearly $200,000.

Weston returned to competition several months after his accident. In his first at-bat, members of an opposing traveling squad individually approached him at the plate to shake his hand.

In retirement, Randy Mazey won’t be far away from either his son or the school. Last year, Weston announced his commitment to play for the Mountaineers out of the 2025 recruiting class.

West Virginia and Kansas State are the only Big 12 teams remaining after Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and UCF were eliminated in the regionals.

“I’m going to try as hard as I can to win the super regional so they can experience the College World Series, because you can’t put into words what that feeling is like,” said Mazey, who was an assistant on the TCU team that made it to Omaha in 2010. “They’ll remember it the rest of their lives.

“They sit up here and say they’re motivated by me? I’m motivated by them.”


AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports

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