MORGANTOWN — The WVU baseball team won its second consecutive Big 12 series with an 8-3 victory over No. 19 Texas on April 29, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (22-19, 6-9 Big 12) benefited from a three-run fourth inning, a four-run eighth and a strong performance from the WVU pitching staff to defeat
the 19th-ranked Longhorns (30-17, 12-6) for the second-consecutive day.
“Kids just get excited to play against Texas, especially Texas kids,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “I do too. When I woke up in the morning, today was an opportunity to beat one of the best programs in the history of college baseball. So, fans get excited about it. They come out to see us, and players get excited. When we joined the Big 12, that’s what we bargained for, weekends like this, and that’s what we got.”
In front of 2,033 fans in April 29’s finale, WVU scored eight runs on 12 hits while holding Texas to three runs, two earned, on five hits.
“This was the biggest scout day of the year, probably, because we’re playing against Texas,” Mazey said. “That fires you up, as a hitter, you want to play the best. … We have to just keep going. We’ve put ourselves in a position now that if we make a run at this thing, then we have a chance. With that being said, doing everything right is really going two- and three-fold. If you have a chance to win a championship, you don’t get to take a day off when acting like a champion. I hate to stand here and talk about championships right now, but on the back of our shirts, it says, ‘Here We Come.’ Traditionally, the second half of the season, this is where we’ve been.”
Sophomore right-handed starter Isaiah Kearns was strong on the mound and earned his first quality start of the season. In 6 1/3 innings, he allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks. He gave up two runs in the first before holding Texas to just one hit in the next five innings.
At the plate, freshman third baseman Tyler Doanes had a career-best four RBIs with two hits and two runs scored to lead the offense. A bases-loaded, three-RBI triple in the eighth inning turned a 4-3 WVU lead into a four-run advantage.
After a 12-5 month, WVU opens May with a midweek matchup at 6:30 p.m. May 1, against Maryland, at Monongalia County Ballpark. It is a rematch of last season’s NCAA Regional.
Junior defender Bianca St. Georges was named Team MVP at the Mountaineers’ season-ending banquet, held April 27, at the WVU Art Museum.
A 2017 co-captain, St. Georges, a native of St. Felix de Valois, Quebec, anchored a Mountaineers defense which tallied 13 shutouts en route to a third-round appearance in the NCAA tournament and a 16-4-3 overall record.
Senior co-captain Michaela Abam was named the Offensive MVP for the second-straight season. The Houston native again led the Mountaineers attack for the fourth year, pacing the WVU offense with 23 points on 10 goals and three assists. The 10 goals ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference, and the 23 points ranked No. 2. Four of Abam’s scores were game-winners, the 53rd-best total nationally.
Junior Easther Mayi Kith was named the team’s defensive MVP. A starter at center back in all 23 matches, the Quebec City, Quebec, native played a big part in the backline’s 13 clean sheets. An all-Big 12 second team honoree, she was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5. Mayi Kith also was named to the United Soccer Coaches Women’s Scholar all-South region second team and to the academic all-Big 12 first team.
Juniors Vanessa Flores and Grace Cutler shared the Most Improved Player honor.
All other team awards were voted on by the student-athletes.
Senior Zaakira Muhammad earned the Linda Burdette-Good Award as the team’s Most Valuable Gymnast for the third straight year at the program’s 2018 season banquet April 28, at Touchdown Terrace at Milan Puskar Stadium.
A native of Pennsauken, N.J., Muhammad is the second Mountaineer in program history to earn three straight Team MVP honors and the first since Lisa Neutze earned the award four-straight years (1978-’81).
Additionally, Muhammad also earned the Joseph Medrick Award as the team’s top all-around gymnast for the second straight year.
Muhammad competed in 12 meets this season, eight in the all-around, and finished with a team-best 409.4 points. She leaves the program ranked No. 16 with 1,552.8125 career points.
Muhammad finishes her career with 20 event wins and finished second on the team this year with five victories. She paced WVU in 2018 with 18 podium finishes and tallied 75 career podium finishes.
A pair of Mountaineers received the Sally Medrick Award as the team’s most improved gymnast, as junior Jaquie Tun earned the honor for the second straight year and shared the recognition with freshman Michelle Waldron.
Senior Jordan Gillette earned the John Quackenbush Award for Mountaineer Spirit. Presented annually to the gymnast who displays the most perseverance and enthusiasm for the sport of gymnastics, the award is named in honor of the late John Quackenbush, the father of WVU all-American Kristin Quackenbush and a friend of WVU gymnastics.
All but the Joseph Medrick Award were voted on by the student-athletes.