MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia is considering playing two or three Big 12 baseball series at Hawley Field in 2014 after shifting all its home conference games to Charleston and Beckley last spring.
West Virginia likely would play one or two home series in Charleston next spring, but while WVU’s new $16 million stadium is being constructed at University Town Centre, coach Randy Mazey rightly wants to bring Big 12 baseball to Morgantown—thereby easing some of his team’s exhausting travel.
The news excited Big 12 pitcher of the year Harrison Musgrave, who tweeted he “heard from a very reliable source” that series against Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas will be played on campus while WVU would face Baylor in Charleston.
While 42-year-old Hawley Field lacks locker rooms and adequate grandstands, there’s no Big 12 facilities guideline prohibiting the Mountaineers from staging league games at their campus park. WVU’s home-away-from-home scheduling for its Big 12 debut season was done with the belief a new park would be available by 2014. But several months’ worth of legislative hangups delayed passage of the tax-increment financing plan necessary to fund the ballpark, which likely won’t be operational until the 2015 college season.
The Mountaineers went 5-4 during three series at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston and swept a three-game set from Kansas at Epling Stadium in Beckley—part of Mazey’s expectation-busting first season as head coach. Appalachian Power Park is a splendid downtown ballpark, and staging games in the state’s capital city lured impressive crowds, but the travel requirements of college baseball players are demanding enough without adding a three-hour bus ride to home games.
Despite Hawley’s Field’s inadequacies, a park-record crowd of 2,535 attended the April 30 matchup against Pitt. Before that game, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the TIF bill into law.