Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: West Virginia Baseball

Yes, that is really their baseball stadium

WVU At-A-Glance: 
-Program founded: 1892
-All time record: 1,955-1,358-18 (as of the end of 2011)
-12 NCAA Tournament appearances
-11 All-Americans
-20 MLB players

History with TCU: The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs have never met on the baseball diamond, so the Frogs' first trip to play WVU at Hawley Field just might be their first-ever trip to The Mountain State- although I'm not sure.  TCU's website claims the Frogs are 2-0 all-time against Marshall with no mention of where the games were played, although Marshall's site has no mention of the Thundering Herd ever having played TCU.  Trust me- if you think reading this paragraph wasted your time, just remember that I spent time trying to research this crap.

Recent History: In 2011, Mountaineer head coach Greg Van Zant won his 500th career game, with all of them coming at West Virginia.  While that is a great milestone to have achieved, the fact that it came in his 17th season says quite a bit about the state of Mountaineer baseball.  The most games they've won in a season under Van Zant is 37, twice: in 1998 and 2009.  That '09 squad actually finished 3rd in the Big East, but failed to garner an at-large NCAA berth due to their RPI of nearly 100.  Their lone NCAA Tournament appearance came when they won the Big East tournament in 1996, after which they made a decent run in the Atlantic Regional hosted by Clemson.  Van Zant has coached two 2nd Team All-Americans in his time at the helm in Morgantown: pitcher Chris Enochs in 1997 and shortstop Jedd Gyorko in 2010.  Gyorko, who is playing for the Double-A San Antonio Missions in the Padres' organization, is one of five former Mountaineers playing professionally right now.  David Carpenter, a right-handed reliever for the Astros, is the lone WVU alum currently in the big leagues.

Outlook for entering the Big 12: As noted by a columnist from the area, West Virginia baseball's entry into the Big 12 is going to make TCU basketball seem like a natural fit in the league.   The Mountaineers are 17-24 overall this year and just 5-10 in the Big East, which is not exactly known as a baseball hotbed.  As you can see by the photo of Hawley Field above, their facilities have a long way to go to even be considered "bad" by Big 12 standards.  Their most recent three-game home series, against arch-rival Pittsburgh, drew a TOTAL of 1,633 fans.  WVU AD Oliver Luck, a former Texas resident who knows how big baseball is in these parts and how big an uphill climb this program faces, has eased some scholarship limitations that some feel have held the Mountaineers back in recent years.  Their overall team ERA of 6.57 this year doesn't bode well for next year, but it should be noted that their entire starting batting order (including three guys hitting above .300) are eligible to return.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

There is a high likelihood that Greg Van Zant will not be coaching there next year. 500 wins, sure. But 440 losses too.

He has all those wins against pathetic teams. Their Coppin State game was rained out yesterday or it would likely have been a WVU win -- Coppin State is 0-38. Are there teams in the Big 12 playing 0-38-caliber teams? I doubt it.

There is even a website dedicated to following Greg Van Zant and his pathetic attempts to coach baseball at the Division-I level.