The Dominion Post  

WVU tries to be road warriors early in season

Created on:   Sun, Feb 11, 2018   7:21 PM

Last modified:   Sun, Feb 11, 2018   7:20 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — There was still small piles of snow and ice around the outfield rim of Monongalia County Ballpark on Feb. 9, but the WVU baseball team was jogging up and down the right field foul line.

Early February in Morgantown isn’t usually conducive to baseball practice with bitter cold temperatures and possible snow, but the Mountaineers took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to finally get outside.

With temps in the high 40s and the sun shining, head coach Randy Mazey said it was nice to finally get outside before WVU heads south for its season opener on Feb. 16.

“It’s important to practice with blue sky in the background instead of a roof in the background,” he said. “Any opportunity we’ve gotten to come outside, we’ve done it. One day outside is the same as one day inside as far as I’m concerned.”

Getting the outdoor practices in now is important before heading on long road trips to begin the season. The Mountaineers’ will be away from Mon County Ballpark for 22 of their first 27 games. They will play Canisius and La Salle for a four-game stretch from March 16-20 and will host Pitt on March 27.

This type of scheduling is done on purpose, and Mazey believes he knows what he’s doing.

“Coaches are always trying to finagle their schedule to benefit themselves RPI-wise, and I think I I’ve got this thing pretty close to figured out,” he said. “You have to play your first 20 on the road. You get more points for winning games on the road.”

Mazey even admits that Mon County Ballpark would not be much of a home field-advantage to WVU during the early parts of the season, so there is no reason to play there in February and early March.

“To try and play here the first three weeks of the season is just asking for trouble,” he said. “I love college baseball but I’m not going to go to a game where it’s 32 degrees and spitting rain, so why would anyone else? There’s no advantage to playing here that time of the year.”

The Mountaineers started 8-7 last season, with all 15 games being on the road in non-conference play. They opened the Big 12 slate at Baylor, taking two of three, so before the first game in Morgantown, WVU was 10-8 .

Building chemistry and learning how to play on the road early on can help build team unity and can pay dividends in the Big 12 schedule. All postseason tournaments are also away from so “we just a lot more practice at playing on the road than most people do,” Mazey said.

Players have a more simplistic way of looking at the early road trips. While RPI points and getting off on the right foot is key, junior outfielder Darius Hill is looking forward to the experience.

“There’s not much of a way to prepare for it until it’s actually happening,” he said. “It’s tough at first, but it’s fun, you get to play the game you love and get to go to these cool places.”

WVU will open its season at 6:30 p.m. Friday, at Jacksonville State, the first of a three-game series.