NOTEBOOK: Mountaineers staying loose on eve of historic game

CHAPEL HILL N.C. — If you see WVU baseball players hopping up and down and pounding their chests while playing in their first super regional, rest assured it’s still a baseball game you’re watching.

It’s just the latest craze from a loose Mountaineers bunch, started by shortstop J.J. Wetherholt, after he took a liking to the movie “Planet of the Apes,”

“It was a movie that I watched and I liked it,” Wetherholt tells the story. “I started acting like a gorilla at a (team scrimmage).”

WVU had a good week of practice with Wetherholt imitating a gorilla, which led to WVU (36-22) sweeping its way through the Tucson (Ariz.) Regional.

“I figured we were going to Tucson (Ariz.) to play some good teams, teams who were ranked higher than us and picked to beat us,” Wetherholt said. “I was like, we played pretty good at intersquads, so how about treating this like we did intersquads. So, I was a gorilla the whole weekend.”

And with each defensive gem Wetherholt pulled off in the regional, he followed it with his gorilla impersonation.

It quickly caught on.

“Yeah, when J.J. made one diving stop and got the out, I was doing the ape like crazy,” WVU outfielder Sam White said. “They didn’t show it on TV, but I was having some fun out there.”

For added measure, the sequel “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is now out. WVU players were going to a local movie theater in Durahm, N.C. on Thursday night to watch it prior to their first super regional game against No. 4 North Carolina on Friday.

“We’re watching it as a team,” Wetherholt said. “It should be cool. Maybe we can use that coming into (today’s) game.”

Full circle

Randy Mazey celebrated quite an anniversary Thursday.

It was exactly 12 years ago — June 6, 2012 — when Mazey was hired at WVU.

Twelve years later, Mazey and the Mountaineers were practicing for the school’s first-ever appearance in a super regional.

“This is probably the first June practice we’ve ever had in our program,” Mazey said. “That was the vision 12 years ago. It’s pretty cool you guys are reminding me of that right now, because this is something we’ve never done before. It’s pretty cool for the program.”

Quick hire

There is a long relationship between Mazey and North Carolina head coach Scott Forbes, to which both coaches refer to the other as a good friend.

“I have a ton of respect for coach Forbes and what he’s done here,” Mazey said. “He’s a great friend, always has been.”

Forbes began his coaching career in 1998 at N.C. Wesleyan, under Mike Fox and then followed Fox to North Carolina a year later.

From 2003-05, Forbes moved to Winthrop to become an assistant there, and was snatched up by Mazey, who was the head coach at East Carolina in 2005.

“I hired Scott Forbes at East Carolina for 17 days,” Mazey said. “Then he decided to go back to Coach Fox (at UNC). I was so happy for him, because he’s a Coach Fox guy. What a perfect fit for this program. I couldn’t be happier for the success he’s had at this program.”

Note

  • WVU first baseman Grant Hussey will be back in action Friday against North Carolina.
    Hussey was pulled late in the Tucson Regional championship game after his foot landed awkwardly on second base, but he was practicing and ready to go on Thursday.