CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There is a united front with the remaining major sports programs - basketball and baseball - at WVU Tech.
"There are two themes we're trying to follow, like Kevin Costner in 'For the Love of the Game,' is one of our themes," fourth-year Tech baseball Coach Lawrence Nesselrodt said. "Secondly, we motivated ourselves by setting a goal of having the best team in the history of Tech baseball."
The Tech athletic programs, in their final academic year of Mid-South Conference membership, are not eligible for postseason play in the league or in the NAIA. Coach Bob Williams' men's basketball program is adding up victories at the end of its season to calculate its finish in conference.
Nesselrodt, who has engineered rebuilding projects at Garrett (Md.) Community College and Davis & Elkins, has the same plan.
"We're committed to try to prove against every opponent who wins that series," he said. "We're trying to make the most of what is an unfortunate situation."
The Golden Bears are ineligible for the postseason after the school applied twice for re-admittance to NCAA Division II. Beginning with the 2012 academic year, all WVU Tech athletics will be NAIA independents with affiliation in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
Which leaves the baseball team with a 55-game regular-season schedule, weather permitting, to make a lasting impression on its opponents.
"Even as a Pirates' fan, I enter each spring with the hope they can make the playoffs," said Nesselrodt, a Petersburg High School graduate who played shortstop for two years each at Garrett and D&E. "It might not last long, but in this situation, it's difficult. We do have a good group of guys who are committed to work hard."
Many of those are Kanawha Valley products, but one of the most intriguing prospects is from Dayton, Va., in sophomore Kevin Bocock.
The centerfielder is the brother of Brian Bocock, a Class AAA member of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise who spent time in the Major Leagues with the San Francisco Giants (2008) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010).
Bocock will contribute in the outfield, but the cornerstone of the Tech program in 2012 will be a talented, and experienced, pitching staff.
Last year, the Golden Bears - who went 16-29 - relied heavily on former first-team All-Big East Conference pitcher Jarryd Summers. However, like many of the other promising players for Tech, the former WVU star was hit with injury problems.
The health of the staff will be paramount this season also. It includes freshman and former Chapmanville star Craig Johnson, who helped the Tigers win the Class AA state title last year.
Nesselrodt said the most talented of the freshmen might be right-hander Taylor Carter, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Covington, Va.