As Mazey said in his post-game comments, West Virginia deserved the win over Wildcats. While his thoughts indicated that the win was a bit of a salve for some of the late-inning losses the Mountaineers have suffered this year, it also served as yet another justification for his simple approach of playing hard and grinding away on every at-bat and with every pitch, of being prepared and of not worrying about the outcome of every play.
Instead, Mazey has preached faith in the "process" (not dissimilar to that pronounced by many coaches) but the important thing is that he's been able to infuse the WVU program with that almost from the start. Of course, it hasn't hurt that wins have followed, and that West Virginia quickly became competitive with anyone in the Big 12, but it's been his ability to keep his team working that has been the true foundation of his team's success.
The latest example came in Saturday's win, when catcher Cam O'Brien came to the plate in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on first. The Mountaineers trialed 5-3, and had had little success against a string of Kansas State relief pitchers. O'Brien, who admitted he hasn't hit with nearly as much success as he has wanted to this year, didn't let the situation faze him or change his approach. He analyzed what he had been doing, how Kansas State had been pitching him, and prepared his plan of attack
"They'd been throwing me in all weekend, and I haven't been able to get my head in to the ball," O'Brien said. "I was sitting on a fastball, and I was able to get on it."
O'Brien noted that opposing pitchers have been changing speeds on pitches to him, and that he made an adjustment in what he was looking for at the plate in the crucial situation.
"I kinda get caught in between. I get a lot of changeups, because I have a tendency to swing at those. I really need to adjust my mindset to fastballs in. I'm working on it."
Obviously, it worked, as O'Brien crushed the inside heat to the deepest part of the park. The ball hit about a foot below the top of the centerfield wall, resulting in a double and a second and third situation with no outs for the Mountaineers. That paved the way for three ninth-inning scores and the win.
"We're never out of the game now," O'Brien said.
Billy Fleming might be the poster boy for Mazey's approach. Even in the midst of a losing skid earlier this year, he espoused staying the course. Post game interview sessions didn't reveal frustration or panic -- he repeated Mazey's mantra of concentrating on the present and not worrying about past results. That paid dividends in the ninth against the Wildcats, when the two-run deficit was staring WVU in the face.
"Just keep grinding like we have all year," Fleming said of Mazey's message to the team before going out to hit in the last inning. "We know we have the ability to do it and the heart also. We knew we had a chance in that last inning, and we just wanted to grind out at-bats and get the next guy up to the plate."