Tight Bonds Lead To Success For WVU Baseball Team
MORGANTOWN, W.Va, — From the jump, West Virginia’s 2019 baseball team exhibited a bond that appeared closer than most.
Sources around the team noted that while building team chemistry has always been a focus under head coach Randy Mazey, this year’s team seemed to be exhibiting something more.
“From the get go, everyone was close,” seinor catch Ivan Gonzalez said, confirming the notion that this team was connected a little more tightly than most. “There were no cliques anywhere. I think that has helped the team to jell.”
Gonzalez, along with several other seniors and upperclassmen, were instrumental in forging the tight-knit team, but they could only lay the groundwork. In order for it to develop, there has to be buy-in and commitment from everyone. There’s also a bit of a mystical component — call it Zen, synergy or the like — that has to coalesce for a team to reach the levels this year’s squad has reached.
“You can’t really force it,” senior outfielder Darius Hill observed. “You can try to get guys together, but at the same time you have to want to be together. I think this team has become great friends, and I think we have been able to take that chemistry and put it on the field.”
Trying to identify all the compoonents that go into making a team so tight-knit and supportive is akin to figuring out all the properties of dark matter. You know it’s there, but in some ways it’s indefinable. Perhaps, then, the key to this is looking at the results it brings. For WVU, there’s no easier measurement than how it copes with its lengthy road trips to open the season. On those long treks, few no home stays to break them up, support for the player next to you becomes vital. WVU played 18 of its first 24 games away from home, and weathered that stretch well enough to put itself in position to make the stretch drive to host a regional.
“When teams jell, they win more. I know that for a fact,” Gonzalez said with utter conviction. “This team loves each other, Day in and day out, nobody has anything against each other. Everyone has good chemistry and that goes a long way.”
The “just right” mix of factors doesn’t happen very often. Without question, many teams develop good chemistry, but there was something a little different about this year’s WVU squad.
“I think it is rare,” Gonzalez said. “You have new guys coming in every year and guys leaving, and it can be hard to get jelled very quickly. It’s incredible how quick this team came together. Everyone wanted to play and start, and it pushed everyone to become better.”
For Hill, a different factor stands out, but one that complements those that are important to Gonzalez. In a way, that also helps illuminate the bonds that tie this team together — ones that interlock, in their own unique way. They’ve helpd this team advance to rarefied air for this program, with the hopes of a first-ever first Super Regional appearance on the horizon.
“I think this team just enjoys coming to the yard together,” Hill said simply. “There’s a lot of cohesion and unity with this team that you don’t see all the time.”