CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The circumstances to precede West Virginia's first Big 12 baseball tournament seem to have come together to conspire against the Mountaineers.
They had their longest losing streak - five games - near the end of the regular season. WVU went from first place on May 11 to a tie for third and the No. 3 seed in the league's eight-team, pool play event that begins with today.
West Virginia opens with sixth-seeded Kansas at 5 p.m. (Root Sports).
WVU has been in Oklahoma for nine days, just one more road trip in a season that's featured 20 total. This one is the most unique, though, and not simply because of the length.
The Mountaineers stand to be fatigued, if not physically, then emotionally after taking an active role in helping victims recover after a tornado Monday that steamed through Moore, Okla., and swept four or five miles past where the team is staying in Oklahoma City.
First-year WVU Coach Randy Mazey has challenged his team to make the best of the adverse situations encountered this season as the coach and he's seen the players respond. The Mountaineers went from last place in the preseason coaches' poll to making a run for the conference title, all while playing just eight games on campus and the conference home games in Charleston and Beckley.
"I can't say enough about how these guys have played all year, how they've acted all year academically and socially," Mazey said. "This is as close to a coach's dream team as you can get. They've just been so much fun to coach and they're all deserving of all the honors they've gotten.
"From our first team meeting we had and how coachable they were in fall practice to what we did (Monday) helping out the victims down here, it's been a dream season as far as coaching goes, regardless of how things turn out down here."
What awaits the Mountaineers in what is now round robin play with two four-team pools is presented as merely their next challenge.
"I like our chances," Mazey sad. "Our guys are motivated and I think we're playing like we have nothing to lose. We're not playing for ourselves. We're playing for other people and when you have such a motivating factor, then who knows what you're capable of?"
The Mountaineers (31-25, 13-11 Big 12) bought supplies and necessities for victims Monday night at a local Wal-Mart and delivered them to a group of relocated victims in Norman, Okla., Tuesday. Their focus shifted Wednesday with a practice to prepare for today's game against the Jayhawks (31-24, 12-12).
WVU also plays Friday against No. 7 seed TCU (28-26, 12-12) and Saturday against No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (39-14, 13-10).