Big 12 Baseball Tournament Preview – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When freshman Aidan Major pitched six no-hit innings vs. Pitt two weeks ago, he hoped the outing impressed his coaches enough to give him a nod against a Big 12 opponent.
Five days later, he made his conference debut in Norman, Oklahoma. He kept his spot in the weekend rotation for the regular-season finale vs. Kansas State.
“I was just saying that out of hope to be quite honest with you. I never thought I would get the opportunity to start but the last two weekends have been everything and then some,” Major said. “I couldn’t be more proud of myself.”
What makes it even more rewarding is all he’s overcome to get to this point.
Major admits he didn’t have high expectations heading into his first year of collegiate baseball due to an injury. He had surgery on his right knee for a second time last fall and was sidelined until mid-January.
“For me, it was trying to get as much experience as possible. Get as many innings as I could. I never once thought it would turn into being a midweek starter and then eventually into a weekend starter,” Major said. “My expectations were very low and I’ve exceeded everything I could have ever imagined as a freshman. It’s been one heck of a ride.”
The most challenging part of his recovery process wasn’t dealing with the physical rehab. It was overcoming the mental obstacles that came with the setback. Major said it took him until the middle of March to fully trust his knee.
One month later, he earned his first career start. By the end of the regular season, he was fanning Big 12 opponents.
“I lean on the older guys,” Major said. “The Big 12 Conference as a whole is a great conference with a lot of really good players and a lot of really good hitters, so you are doing yourself a disservice trying to go in blind. I definitely leaned on the older guys and coaches for support.”
Major got an immediate taste of just how good the bats are in the league. In three innings of work at Oklahoma, he allowed three hits, four earned runs, including two homers, and finished with a goose egg in the strikeout column.
A week later, he allowed three hits, one earned run and struck out five batters in a win over KSU.
“The first innings, my off-speed was good but not quite where it needed to be. As the game went on, I was able to find that. I was able to throw a lot more strikes and make my fastball better as the game went on. It was a learning curve,” Major said. “Last weekend I was very fastball heavy and it showed. I got hit up pretty good. Today was the complete opposite. I got ahead early with my off-speed, it made my fastball good and was able to get guys out pretty easily.”
As a freshman with only eight innings of Big 12 experience, Major is learning as he goes. That could be an advantage at the conference tournament as only two teams have faced him so far.
“The one thing I think I do really well, and I’ve done it all year, is I don’t have a sequence,” Major said. “It’s just a good mix. I can throw any pitch on any count so it’s really hard, in my opinion, to pattern what I do. That’s obviously an advantage when you have different pitches you can throw on any count. It’s going to be fun. It’s still kind of nerve-wracking. I’m just trying to take it all in.”
The skipper confirmed it will be Major along with Jacob Watters and Ben Hampton who will get the nod first in Arlington, Texas.
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship begins on Wednesday, May 25 at Globe Life Field. WVU, the No. 6 seed, will face No. 3 Oklahoma in the opening round at 8:30 p.m. ET.