Mountaineers give tornado relief
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahomans will have reason to root for a third team in this week's Big 12 baseball tournament.
Minutes after watching a deadly tornado sweep through Moore, Okla., on Monday, just a few miles from where they were staying for the tournament, the West Virginia Mountaineers were ready to help in the relief effort.
"After we saw it on the news, we got all the guys together and called the Oklahoma City and Moore police departments and told them we had a bus-full of 30 guys ready to do anything they needed," West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said.
What the victims needed most, though, were necessities. So Mazey and his team headed to the closest Walmart. There, each player took a shopping cart to load up with clothes, flashlights, batteries, shoes and more -- paid for by funds that had been privately raised for the baseball program.
"We were ready to do anything we could to help," outfielder Matt Frazer said. "It was Coach's idea to go to the store."
The Walmart trip also led to a fortuitous encounter.
As the team was checking out, it ran into a woman who had just lost her home in the storm.
"There was a three-hour period where she didn't even know if her two kids were alive," Mazey said. "When she found him, her next order of business was to buy them clothes."
Instead, the team had the woman, who introduced herself as Jamie, to get what she needed from their carts.
"That wasn't just a big thing for her, it was a big thing for us," first baseman Ryan McBroom said. "It was humbling to see what she had gone through -- she lost pretty much everything. It was the least our team could do."
Tuesday, the Mountaineers drove to the University of Oklahoma -- where more than 100 displaced victims temporarily were staying -- to drop off the rest of the supplies.
To get to Norman, the team had to drive past the area in Moore where the tornado had struck.
"It was unreal to see how powerful that tornado was," McBroom said. "You don't understand until you see it firsthand."
The Mountaineers have been in Oklahoma City since Sunday because they had stayed around for the tournament after ending the regular season last weekend with a series at Oklahoma State.
West Virginia was scheduled to play Kansas on Wednesday, but the start of the Big 12 tournament has been postponed to Thursday.
As they've arrived in Oklahoma City for the tournament, other teams -- including the Jayhawks, who dropped off loads of bottled water and diapers -- have chipped in to the relief effort.
The Texas A&M softball team, meanwhile, which plays the Sooners in a Super Regional in Norman beginning Thursday, brought with them a 30-foot truck packed with supplies and $4,685 it raised on its College Station campus.