Preseason expectations can be a double-edged sword, at least that is how West Virginia University baseball coach Randy Mazey sees it.
When D1Baseball ranked the Mountaineers No. 14 in its preseason Top 25 Poll, Mazey said he was happy the program was finally getting some recognition, but that attention is not always good for teams
“It’s nice to see it but you hope the players don’t read it,” the ninth-year coach told MetroNews radio Monday. “Those rankings can be good or bad but it is nice to finally get some acknowledgment about what we’ve done here, the type of players we have here, the success we have here. It really does feel good to see your name in there.”
Since Mazey took over the WVU program in 2013, the team has been on an unprecedented run of success culminating in hosting an NCAA regional tournament in 2019. In eight seasons, the Mountaineers have a 238-181 record under Mazey with a 77-87 mark in the Big 12.
The drawback to being ranked so high this season, according to Mazey, is that the team loses the ability to think of themselves as underdogs, set out to prove their doubters wrong.
Mazey recounted a story on his first season in Morgantown. During a preseason practice, he was told that WVU was picked dead-last in the Big 12 coaches poll. Everyone with a vote picked the Mountaineers to finish last in the conference. Mazey said he immediately paused practice and shared the news with the team.
“I said ‘I have some good news, everybody thinks you’re no good’,” Mazey remembered. “What an opportunity to go out and prove some things to everyone.”
Fueled by an effort to prove the voters wrong, the Mountaineers finished the 2013 season 33-26, third place in the Big 12 with a 13-11 record. Such fuel is lost when there are expectations to do well said, Mazey.
“Being picked 14th in the nation does have some positives but it leaves you less to prove to people than if you weren’t in there at all.”