First head coaching opportunity for Steve Sabins has been earned over nine successful seasons

(Steve Sabins introductory press conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Steve Sabins knows the conversations are coming. And he welcomes them.

The nine-year assistant, Associate Head Coach and Head-Coach-In-Waiting is now officially installed as the 20th leader of the WVU baseball program. Sabins expects an opinion or two may filter in from the program’s 19th head coach, Randy Mazey.

WVU head coach Steve Sabins (Photo by Teran Malone)

“He is always a phone call away. I want him to be around here,” Sabins said. “I guarantee you he is at every single ball game. And he is not going to be able to help himself. He is going to let me know about what he thinks is going on on the field. But I will really cherish that and look forward to those conversations.

“He has worked his whole life and he has missed a lot of ball games and missed a lot of things with his two kids Weston and Sierra. He’s going to spend more time with Amanda.”

Last July, WVU announced that Sabins would succeed Mazey following the 2024 season and Mazey would move into retirement. The unique arrangement was handled well by all parties and results showed on the field. The Mountaineers (36-24) advanced to NCAA Super Regional play for the first time.

“You can’t win at a high level if there is ego, if there’s self-obsession. You can’t do that. A lot of people kind of put the personal ambitions aside in order to build a team and be a part of something greater than themselves.”

Sabins’ coaching career was just getting started when Mazey took over the WVU program in 2012. Sabins spent four seasons on staff at Oklahoma State before Mazey hired him to join the Mountaineers in 2016.

“In this industry, having an opportunity to become a head coach at where you have worked for the last nine years is very, very rare. I just feel beyond blessed to be able to keep my family in Morgantown. We are integrated into the community so to be able to see those little people behind me continue to stay in Morgantown where they love to be and my wife to stay here is a dream come true.

“Coach Mazey took a risk on me nine seasons ago. At that time, I was the youngest Power 5 assistant in the country. 27 years old, no recruiting experience, not from the region, there were a lot of reasons to not give me that opportunity. He entrusted me with a really big responsibility and I came here to work every day to try to prove him right.”

In the nine years Mazey and Sabins were on staff together, WVU qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times and earned a Big 12 regular season title in 2023.

“[Mazey] has done such an incredible job to take this program from where it was, coming from the Big East and into the Big 12.

“I have learned so many things from him, it is impossible to really count at this point.”

Steve Sabins (Photo by Teran Malone)

Sabins will continue to serve as the third base coach during games while the recently-promoted pitching coach Justin Oney will call the pitches. Sabins has served as the program’s recruiting coordinator since 2018. Those responsibilities will be divided up with the new staff.

“Right now, I have kind of moved into more of a portal role with some immediate needs for our roster and some holes that our roster has. Coach [Jacob] Garcia is our recruiting coordinator. He brings up all of it and does an unbelievable job. His focus is a little bit more on the high school base.

“I think my role and responsibility as a head coach is to bring in the most badass staff and players in the world into the door and let them do their thing.”

As with all college programs, West Virginia’s roster will be in flux over the next few months. Several draft-eligible players could be selected and pursue professional opportunities later in the summer. Sabins is pointing to a younger group of pitchers as a potential strength within the program as more opportunities become available.

WVU Deputy Athletics Director for External Affairs Matt Wells (left) and Steve Sabins

“I think what we are really counting on is that we had an unbelievable group of sophomore pitchers that showed flashes of brilliance for us and probably didn’t pitch as much as they could have due to some of those older guys that ate a lot of innings. We need those players to step up.”

Sabins’ fingerprints are all over the WVU program for his work over the course of nine seasons where the Mountaineers posted a 284-195 record. After back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and numerous attendance records at Kendrick Family Ballpark, Sabins is very much aware that high finishes in the Big 12 followed by postseason play are new and annual goals.

“I am so excited that those expectations are higher and the standards are higher. If they weren’t, that means I wasn’t a very good recruiting coordinator and we didn’t do a very good job. To cower in the face of new expectations would be silly. At this point, I helped create them. So I have to make sure that bar is rising over the course of my tenure here.

“We’re going to put emphasis on blue-collar mentality, work, selflessness, togetherness, team and the process. The process at which we work and how we work is going to be cherished and valued every single day. It is my job to lay out that road map for the players.”

More Sports

Best Virginia falls short against Zoo Crew, 91-79
Pitt's alumni team shot nearly 54 percent and made 12-of-28 three-pointers to advance.
July 22, 2024 - 10:35 pm
Herd That, La Familia to clash in Lexington Regional final at Rupp Arena
Herd That avoided elimination with an improbable rally to get past War Ready. Now comes a tough test against a team filled with past Kentucky standouts, including some that went on to have relatively lengthy careers in the NBA.
July 22, 2024 - 3:30 pm
Best Virginia set to battle Zoo Crew in second round of TBT
West Virginia and Pitt's alumni teams clash at 8 p.m. inside Petersen Events Center. The winner moves on to the regional final.
July 22, 2024 - 7:45 am
Former WVU shooter Mary Tucker takes aim at the gold in Paris
Mary Tucker who was the past season NCAA smallbore national champion for WVU will shoot three events for Team USA in Paris
July 22, 2024 - 12:51 am