May 26, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies third baseman Brendon Hayden (34) throws to first base against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the ACC baseball tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies had a great 2013 baseball season as the Hokies really had made a great turnaround under manager Pete Hughes in what was Hughes’s seventh season since replacing the legendary Chuck Hartman. Hughes had built a team that had a huge year last season and saw the Hokies host their own regional in the first round of regionals on the road to the 2013 College World Series. The Hokies would be eliminated by Oklahoma after the Sooners handed the Hokies their second loss of the Blacksburg Regional. The irony would continue as Hughes left the Hokies to go to Oklahoma after Oklahoma manager Sunny Golloway left to take over at Auburn.
The Hokies made the move less than a month after Hughes left for Oklahoma to promote Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Patrick Mason to be the next manager for the Hokies. Mason had been on the Virginia Tech staff for three years and was well-respected by all of his fellow players and coaches before he was rightfully promoted to replace Pete Hughes. Patrick Mason had the experience that the Hokies needed while also having the knowledge of the program that made him Hughes’s perfect replacement.
Mason has a big task ahead of him in 2014 after losing tons of valuable players who included 6 MLB Draft picks. The two biggest losses for this team are shortstop Chad Pinder who was taken in the second round by the Oakland Athletics after graduating and outfielder Tyler Horan who was taken in the eighth round by the San Francisco Giants. The majority of the Hokies’ pitching staff is gone but at least Mark Zagunis is back for his junior season at catcher along with infielder and starting pitcher Sean Keselica, and infielders Alex Perez and Brendon Hayden.
The Hokies are not in the preseason top 25 and despite last season’s strong performance, the loss of many talented seniors for the Hokies has expectations dampered this season. Patrick Mason will be able to coach without the pressure of having to get to the NCAA Tournament as a first-year manager but Mason will have the Hokies ready to surprise many people once again. Mason knows this might not be the Hokies’ big year but for a team with only two seniors, Mason will know that the future will be even brighter for the Hokies on the diamond.
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