Baseball, Sports, WVU Sports

NOTEBOOK: Randy Mazey’s joy from NCAA run comes from watching his players experience new heights

MORGANTOWN — It is a back-and-forth Randy Mazey shares with his WVU baseball team that is now two wins away from playing in the College World Series.

On one side there are the players. J.J. Wetherholt tells stories about taking Mazey’s children fishing.

Logan Sauve said he officially chose WVU after having dinner at Mazey’s house during his recruiting visit.

“Coach Mazey is the man, and by far, my favorite coach I’ve ever played for,” Sauve said.

They’ve dealt in their own ways all season knowing this was Mazey’s final season before he retires from coaching, and sending him to Friday’s super regional was their best retirement gift.

“It was not easy to hear,” about Mazey retiring, WVU pitcher Aidan Major said. “He’s the reason I came to West Virginia to begin with. Knowing this is his last year, for all 37 guys in the locker room, it means the world that we’re doing what we’re doing right now.”

There is a return from Mazey in that he has no interest in WVU (36-22) going to Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday to begin a best-of-three series and simply going through the motions.

“I’ve been to super regionals and I’ve been to Omaha (Neb.) a bunch, but they haven’t,” Mazey said. “This is in no way, shape or form about me. I feel good, because they get to experience something they’ve never experienced.

“I’m going to try as hard as I can to win the super regional, so they can experience the College World Series. You can’t put into words what that feeling is like. They’ll remember that for the rest of their lives.”

History lessons

** While the Mountaineers are playing in the school’s first-ever super regional, No. 4 North Carolina (45-14) is making its fourth trip over the last seven years.

The Tar Heels hosted Arkansas at this level in 2022 during their last trip, but were swept in two games. North Carolina was the national runner-up in 2006 and 2007 and has played in the College World Series 11 times.

** This will be Mazey’s second trip to a super regional as a head coach. His first came in 2004 with East Carolina, but the NCAA format was different than it is now.

In those days, there were just eight regionals rather than 16, and each regional was two separate four-team brackets.

The winner of each bracket played each other in the super regional.

East Carolina was swept by South Carolina in two games in that super regional. The Gamecocks went on and played in the national semifinals before being eliminated by Cal State Fullerton.

Survive and advance

The super regionals present many David-and-Goliath storylines.

The regional round saw six of the top 16 seeds eliminated, but eight of the top 10 teams in the country survived.

On the flip side, five No. 3 regional seeds — including WVU — won a region, as did Evansville, which was a No. 4 seed.

All of those lower-seeded teams face a national seed in the super regionals, which will either create some huge upsets or assure many of the top seeds advance to the College World Series.

As for where the 16 surviving teams came from, the SEC and ACC each have five super-regional teams. The Big 12 and Pac-12 each have two, while the Big East and Missouri Valley conferences each have one.

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