The 2022 West Virginia baseball squad was a fun team for most fans to watch, but it was probably even more fun for Randy Mazey to coach.

The team was a reflection of the skipper himself. The former Clemson center fielder set himself apart in the ACC between 1986 and 1988 with his speed, still peppering the program’s record books in terms of steals.

The three-time All-ACC selection brought that mentality to Morgantown when he took the helm in 2013, but in 2022, it really took off as the Mountaineers stole a total of 156 bases to smash the previous program record by 42. Many of those steals came in unlikely or risky situations, like squeezes, double steals and the like.

Leading the way, of course, was Victor Scott, who stole 38 bases — breaking both the WVU program record and his own skipper’s single-season best of 34.

“It’s going to be remembered by me as one of the [most fun] teams I’ve ever coached,” Mazey said. “Our strengths were our ability to run, which is a fun team to coach; our bullpen, and it’s fun to manage a bullpen.”

WVU’s pitching appeared shaky at times, but very often, the team won its games behind some strong bullpen arms. Two of the most reliable players on the team — reliever Chase Smith and closer Trey Braithwaite — were added to the roster in the offseason as graduate transfers and were key in either keeping games alive or slamming doors shut.

At the same time, several younger talents came into the fold. While freshman Chris Sleeper and sophomore Carlson Reed were both relegated to the bullpen after opening the campaign in the starting rotation, they both seemed to thrive in their new roles. Sleeper especially shined in his first season, finishing with a 3.61 ERA en route to a Big 12 All-Freshman team nod.

Mazey also reflected on his team’s mentality throughout the season. WVU started the season as underdogs, picked to finish second-to-last in the Big 12. While they didn’t quite win the league title, they did win the most Big 12 games in program history, finishing just two games behind the top seed, TCU.

This attitude was apparent during games as well. A third of the Mountaineers’ wins required late-game heroics, while four of their first nine victories were decided in the ninth inning or later.

“The chemistry and the culture in the locker room means it’s a great team to be around. We never lost three games in a row the whole season, so we never as coaches got in the locker room and sat there and said, ‘Gosh, why are we playing so bad? What’s wrong with the Mountaineers?'”

That combination of on-field skill and off-field cohesion made 2022 a fun time for Mazey to run his ball club, he said.

“This was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve ever coached, and that was because of the complexion of the team and the type of kids we had,” Mazey said.