While it might not rise to the level of a felony, at least a solid misdemeanor was perpetrated when Kansas State’s Brad Hill was named the league's coach of the year on Tuesday.
There is no doubt that Hill deserves accolades after rebounding to win the school’s first baseball title in over 40 years. But there is no coach in the country who overcame more adversity to have the success that Mazey did in his first season at WVU.
Hill’s Kansas State squad won the regular season title after finishing last in the Big 12 in 2012. The Wildcats were selected to finish seventh in the pre-season by the coaches and went on to tie the school record with 39 wins.
Mazey’s Mountaineers failed to make the Big East tournament in 2012’s disastrous 23-32 season. WVU was the unanimous selection by the league’s coaches to finish last in his first season at the helm in Morgantown.
While Hill's turnaround was impressive, it also came with the help of several benefits. The Wildcats have made trips to the NCAA tournament in three of the past four years and play in a newly renovated stadium, so its not as if the team didn't have talent or facilities. K-State has made a big investment in making baseball a priority in the athletics department, and it showed this year.
On the flip side, Mazey came to a program with none of those advantages. He inherited a team that has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1996. The Mountaineers returned only one player that earned all-league honors last year, and those belonged to Bobby Boyd, who held down a spot on the third team. Topping that off, West Virginia was moving from the middling Big East into a Big 12 conference that many consider to be one of the top four baseball leagues in Division I.
All Mazey had to do was mesh an entirely new group of players that he brought in with a group of players he didn’t recruit and had never met. He also had to do it while playing only eight games at WVU’s Hawley Field. WVU was forced to play its “home” conference games in Charleston, with one series moved even further south to Beckley due to a scheduling conflict with the Charleston minor league team.
Hill is a tremendous coach and he deserves congratulations for taking his team to the league title. But Mazey overcame the most adversity and put his team into the position of contending for the conference title into the final weekend of the season. That the Mountaineers finished third is a testament to the job he did, both in in changing the attitude around the program and improving the on-field performance.
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Given the fact that Mazey came up short, it was a bit of a surprise that Harrison Musgrave was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. The redshirt sophomore from Bridgeport certainly had the performance and the numbers to win the award. He finished the season 8-1 in 13 appearances with a 2.14 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings of work. Musgrave led the league with three shutouts and tied OSU’s Jason Hursh with three complete games.
Pitching in front of the league’s worst defense, West Virginia did not lose a conference game that Musgrave started -- and that may have been one of the factos that pushed him over the top.
On the other side of the coin, deep analysis might not bear out Ryan McBroom's second team all-conference selection.
Oklahoma first baseman Matt Oberste was a unanimous pick for the first team, and on the surface it would appear that he deserved it. Oberste finished second in batting average, doubles and home runs while leading the league in hits, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage.
However, McBroom led the Big 12 conference (league games only) in home runs and RBI and tied for first in total bases. McBroom finished tied for fourth in runs scored and second in slugging percentage in league play. In full season stats, McBroom led the league in homers, finished tied for fourth in doubles, tied for fifth in RBI, fourth in total bases, and seventh in slugging.
A look inside those numbers reveals that Oberste may have fattened up his numbers in non-conference play. In league only at-bats, Oberste did not finish in the top ten in batting average, hits, runs, RBI, total bases, on base percentage or slugging. McBroom was the best first baseman in the league during conference play. The second team selection is nice, but he deserved better.
2013 ALL-BIG 12 BASEBALL AWARDS
Player of the Year: Ross Kivett, Kansas State, Jr., INF
Pitcher of the Year: Harrison Musgrave, West Virginia, So., LHP
Newcomer of the Year: Jordan Piché, Kansas, Jr., RHP
Freshman of the Year: Jake Matthys, Kansas State, Fr., RHP
Scholar-Athletes of the Year: Jared King, Kansas State, Jr., OF & Jantzen Witte, TCU, Sr., INF
Coach of the Year: Brad Hill, Kansas State