Mountaineers climb into Big 12 tie at top
No. 4 Oregon softball nabs first Pac-12 regular season title
It was a great week for both the present and the future of the West Virginia baseball program.
During the weekend, the Mountaineers took two of three games against No. 13 Oklahoma, and moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 Conference standings with the Sooners and Kansas State.
“It’s going to have sink in a little bit,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “Coaches and players like that stuff, but you try not to get too caught up in it because as soon as you start feeling too good about yourselves, you run into a brick wall.”
After losing the opening contest of the series 4-3 in extra innings, the Mountaineers stormed back for 9-3 and 9-6 victories against an Oklahoma pitching staff that had entered the week with a 2.83 ERA. WVU pounded out double-digit hits in all three games.
“We told the guys before the game that they put themselves in a position to win this thing [series],” Mazey said. “Mediocre teams take days off, take at bats off and take pitches off. Now that you’ve proven yourself to be capable of winning this thing, you can’t take a day off and we didn’t today.”
And despite Friday’s loss, pitcher Harrison Musgrave provided a solid performance, giving up just two runs on four hits while striking out 11 batters in the seven-inning no-decision outing. Plus, the 3,279 at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park on Friday were the most in attendance to watch a Mountaineer baseball game in the state of West Virginia.The record crowd came just three days after the Mountaineers had set the previous mark as 2,535 fans came out to Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh at Hawley Field on campus. While fans were there to support the team during the game, they also came out in droves to witness West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin sign a bill that will enable Monongalia County to construct a new $16.2 million baseball facility to house the WVU program and a potential minor league franchise.
“It was unbelievable,” Mazey said Tuesday. “I can’t even put into words how good I felt about the atmosphere tonight. I was hitting infield/outfield to the team before the game and our guys were hopping around with a lot of energy. To look on the hill and see all the fans, I thought, okay this is Big 12 baseball right here.”
Mazey, who is in his first season with the Mountaineers after spending six very successful seasons as an associate head coach at TCU, will host his former team in a three-game series beginning Friday as WVU looks to jockey for position at the top of the Big 12 standings and win its fourth consecutive league series. If the Mountaineers can keep up their winning ways, they may have a shot to secure the program’s first NCAA postseason berth since 1996.
• In just five seasons of existence, two Division I men’s lacrosse programs will be headed to the NCAA tournament as the Northeast Conference’s Bryant and the MAAC’s Detroit-Mercy both earned automatic bids during the weekend.
Bryant defeated Robert Morris 14-7 on Saturday to claim the NEC’s first automatic berth. Peter McMahon netted his third consecutive hat trick to earn tournament MVP honors.
Detroit was the fourth-seeded team in tournament and upended top-seed Marist on Saturday and then rallied to beat Siena 11-10 in overtime on Sunday. The Titans were down 9-4 early in the third quarter before rallying for the victory. Detroit is just 5-9 on the season.
• The No. 4 Northwestern women’s lacrosse team exacted revenge on No. 2 Florida in Sunday’s American Lacrosse Championship title game in Baltimore, upsetting the Gators 8-3 as the Wildcats claimed their sixth league crown in the last seven years. Only two weeks again in Gainesville, Florida had dismantled Northwestern 22-4. It was the third consecutive year the two squads have met in the ALC Championship game. The Wildcats won seven consecutive draw controls to open the game, and won 10-of-13 on the day, while outshooting the Gators 24-9. Northwestern held Florida to just one goal in the last 51 minutes of play.
"What happened in the regular season was humbling, but today we were all ready to play and we weren't going to let what happened last time affect this game," junior Alyssa Leonard said.
Leonard set the Northwestern single-season record for draw controls as she added seven against the Gators to better her total to 112 for the year.
With the win, CSU-Pueblo concluded the regular season with a 28-19 overall record -- its most regular season wins since its RMAC Championship season in 2009 -- and locked up the No. 2 seed in the RMAC tournament, which begins in Grand Junction, Colo., on May 9.
• The No. 4 Oregon softball team captured the program’s first Pac-12 regular season title following a sweep of instate rival Oregon State on Sunday. During the last two months, the Ducks (45-7, 18-3) have won seven league series, including sweeps of OSU, No. 15 Stanford, Utah and No. 17 Arizona. The Ducks’ previous highest finish was a second place in a six-team league in 1989.
"Winning a Pac-12 title is not easy," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "So, when we add that sign to the center field wall it will mean a lot to the fans, the university, and a lot of alumni. This was another big step for the program, and now we have bigger things ahead at ASU next weekend and the postseason."
Oregon heads to Arizona for a three-game series beginning Thursday to conclude the regular season.
• The Towson men’s lacrosse team claimed its first Colonial Athletic Association title since 2005 after knocking off No. 9 Penn State 11-10 on Friday. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage tallied 12 saves in the contest, including four in the fourth quarter to withstand a Nittany Lion rally, and garnered Most Outstanding Player honors for his efforts. The Tigers also secured their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007 with the victory.
•Both Williams College tennis teams upended top-seeded Amherst in their respective New England Small College Athletic Conference title matches on Sunday. The third-ranked women’s squad knocked off No. 1 Amherst 5-2 as the Ephs handed the Lord Jeffs their first loss to a Division III foe this season. Meanwhile, the sixth-ranked Williams men’s team avenged an earlier season loss to the Lord Jeffs, edging them 5-4 for the Ephs’ first title since 2003.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|11||The South Florida baseball team needed two extra-inning victories against Notre Dame to run its Big East winning streak to 11 games this weekend, including a 19-inning marathon the Bulls won 8-2. It was the longest game in school history. While USF’s winning stretch ended with a 10-1 loss to the Irish on Sunday, the Bulls still remained on top of the Big East standings with two more regular season conference series to play.|
|16||The Troy baseball squad has rattled off 16 consecutive home wins following a three-game sweep of Florida International in Sun Belt Conference action of the weekend. The home winning streak in the nation’s longest. The Trojans have won 11 of their last 12 games, and 22 of their last 27 contests. Troy has swept three consecutive SBC opponents at home and has won 10 consecutive league games at Riddle-Pace Field.|
|17||Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts fanned a season-high 17 batters in the Sooners’ 4-2 victory in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Kansas. Ricketts posted the first 12 outs of the game via swinging strikeouts as she improved to 25-1 on the season. It was the second-highest strikeout total of her career.|
|19||Abilene Christian University’s streak of 19 consecutive Lone Star Conference Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships ended on Saturday when Angelo State claimed the trophy for the first time since 1992. Angelo State won the 4x400 meter relay with a time of 3:10.45 to secure the title. ACU finished third in the team standings behind ASU and West Texas A&M.|
|20||New Jersey Institute of Technology senior right-hander Mark Leiter, Jr., collected 20 strikeouts in a complete-game 5-3 victory against Chicago State on Friday, setting the Division I single-game high for the season. Leiter is the son of former MLB pitcher Mark Leiter and nephew of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter.|
|26||Humboldt State’s Chrissy Stalf’s 26th home run of the season keyed a 4-2 win against Sonoma State in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament semifinals on Saturday. Stalf leads Division II softball in home runs, and is just two shy of the season record of 28. HSU went on to beat UC-San Diego 6-2 in the tournament championship game, earning an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.|
|41||The Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse program’s incredible postseason run has ended after 41 consecutive seasons of advancing to the NCAA tournament. The last time Blue Jays (9-5) did not make was 1971 – the first year of the tournament – making it the longest streak of its kind in all of college sports. The Miami (Fla.) baseball program has a streak of 40 appearances heading into this season.|
|100||It may have taken 100 years, but Michigan State’s men’s tennis squad is finally going to the NCAA tournament. The Spartans will face Tulsa in the first round on May 10 after winning seven of their last 10 matches – a stretch that included seven ranked foes. "It means a lot, it's a big year for us," head coach Gene Orlando said. "We've been celebrating 100-years of Spartan Tennis and to clinch our first ever NCAA berth on the 100th anniversary is really special. It's been a special year in many ways."|
• The Tulsa women’s softball team has been hot, concluding the regular season with an eight-game winning streak after a sweep of Southern Miss. The Hurricanes finished a half-game out of first place in the Conference USA standings, trailing UAB and tying Houston at 19-5. Tulsa, which compiled the program’s best league record for the third year running, will be the No. 3 seed in the C-USA tournament beginning May 9.
• Florida State’s Stephen McGee came through in the clutch with a walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Seminoles to a 5-4 victory against UCF to complete the sweep of the Golden Knights. The Seminoles scored three in the ninth inning as they won their 20th consecutive game while wearing gold uniforms, which are traditionally donned on Sundays.
• No. 11 Cal Lutheran won the inaugural Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, defeating Pomona-Pitzer 10-6 on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The Kingsmen have won five consecutive games and are assured a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship.
• With a dominating 16-1 victory against Oswego on Sunday, No. 3 Cortland won its third consecutive SUNY Athletic Conference crown and 31st in program history. The Red Dragons are rewarded with an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championship. It will be Cortland’s 21st consecutive NCAA appearance.
• The top-ranked Mercyhurst men’s lacrosse team downed No. 10 Lake Erie 13-7 on Sunday to capture the inaugural Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament championship. Jake McAndrew netted three goals and was named tournament MVP as the Lakers remained perfect at 16-0 in Division II action this season.
• The No. 3 Montclair State softball team won its first New Jersey Athletic Conference title since 2008, as well as a Division III automatic berth, as the Red Hawks edged Kean University 5-4 on Sunday. NJAC pitcher of the year Alex Hill used her bat to lead Montclair in the contest with an RBI-double in the top of the seventh inning for the game’s winning run.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy