Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which was on the jorts boat seven summers ago. (The comments!) I was thinking, and by that I mean obsessing, about what I’m going to write about and what we’re going to talk about in these next few weeks. Then I remembered the high likelihood of postseason baseball, which we’ve never entertained here. (Critical update: Our plan is to use a freelancer.)
It’s a whole new world, I guess, and it’s a quality way to fill some of the gap between now and whatever it is we do during the summer months before the Big 12’s media days more or less end our offseason. I think West Virginia will make a NCAA regional, but I’m not completely confident that’s the case regardless of what happens in this weekend’s three-game series and then at the Big 12 tournament. It is, at the minimum, interesting.
For example, Michael Grove will not pitch this weekend, and if the Mountaineers get swept at Texas, where the Longhorns are 25-7, then they finish in seventh place in the standings and are the No. 7 seed in the eight-team tournament. If that’s followed by an 0-2 — let’s speculate and say that’s a loss to the No. 2 seed Texas Tech and then a loss to maybe the No. 3 Oklahoma or the No. 6 Texas in the elimination game — well, then you’re looking at a team that finished in seventh place and lost five in a row to end the season. It would finish 31-25 overall and, counting the tournament, 11-15 in conference play. The RPI would be in the low 20s and the strength of schedule would be in the same neighborhood.
Certainly, the NCAA could be given pause. Thirty-one automatic bids go to conference champions. Thirty-four at-large invitations are available for the rest of the country.
So this is another big weekend for a team that’s played in, what, four of them already this season? Five? And a lot of these players remember walking off the field after an extra-innings loss to TCU in the Big 12 title game last year optimistic about an at-large bid. They know nothing is guaranteed.
Jackson Sigman is close to being the exception.
A month ago, the sidearm senior was a reliever with a losing record and an ERA two stitches below 8.00. He bottomed out in a weekend series at Kansas State, and in a Sunday outing, he allowed three home runs in 15 pitches. He and pitching coach Derek Matlock went to the lab, changed his stance, lowered his upper body and repositioned his arm. Since then? Darn near lights out: Nine appearances, 19 2/3 innings, three earned runs and eight hits allowed, 23 strikeouts and one home run. He’s pitched in 31 of 51 games, which ranks No. 4 nationally, and he’s at home this weekend.
West Virginia’s final regular-season games are on the road against the University of Texas, and Sigman figures to throw plenty of pitches at Disch-Falk Field, the home of the Longhorns and the place where Sigman, an Austin, Texas, product, threw that fateful pitch.
“Growing up in Austin, that school was a big part of my life,” Sigman said. “Both of my parents are grads. My mom’s still a teacher there. The first time I ever threw sidearm was at that field in a fall game against some other high school team. Looking back on it, I never thought my regular-season career would end there.
“But it’s kind of cool thinking my first outing ever as a sidearm pitcher was there and my last regular-season outing is going to be in my hometown, and my family’s going to be there in the stadium where I started doing this.”
Sigman is the ever-ready reliever who’s made a school-record 31 appearances in 51 games for the Mountaineers (31-20, 11-10 Big 12). He ranks No. 4 nationally in appearances, and he’s 4-4 with a 4.96 ERA and 61 strikeouts and 17 walks in 49 innings.
“He’s so valuable for us,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said, predicting Sigman could pitch five or six more times in the regular season and next weekend’s double-elimination Big 12 tournament. “I’m super proud of the adjustment he made in the middle of this season.”
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, think things through.
Devastating news about Skyler.
I sense sarcasm. I was surprised Howard was waived so quickly. He was there for a rookie mini-camp. Seattle has Russ Wilson and Trevone Boykin, who has some legal problems to deal with, and nobody else. Howard was competing with Friend of the Blog Jake Heaps and Michael Birdsong. Heaps was with the team last season, first cut late in the preseason, later signed to the practice squad and then cut from there. Birdsong was a tryout guy, which is not the same as an undrafted free agent. He didn’t stick, but he did impress. The Seattle Times noted Seahawks coach Pete Carroll “had not sounded too glowing about (Howard’s) performance in the camp, noting that tryout quarterback Michael Birdsong had graded out the best of the three QBs who took part.” But Seattle saw enough of Howard and decided to let him go, and Howard cleared waivers, which makes him a free agent again. By the way, Heaps played at BYU, Kansas and Miami, Birdsong at JMU, Marshall and Tennessee Tech and Howard at Stephen F. Austin (kinda), Riverside City College and WVU. Football never gives up on quarterback prospects.
And neither does Bruce Irvin.
Raiders v. Seahawks in the last week of the preseason, by the way …