Grove Ready for New Challenge

WHEELING – There were choices. Plenty of them, actually.

In the end, Wheeling Park rising senior Michael Grove opted to join Coach Randy Mazey and the quickly improving West Virginia University baseball program next spring.

”The Big 12 is a big reason I chose WVU,” Grove said. ”It’s a great opportunity, it’s in-state, and the scholarship situation was awesome.

”They are building a new state-of-the-art facility down there and I am really looking forward to it.”

Grove, a standout in the classroom with a 4.7 GPA while taking all advanced courses, could have gone to college strictly as a student. Or, he could have played football. Or hockey.

”I travel around a lot and play baseball and that is where I first got recruited heavily,” Grove said. ”It’s already a relief to me because recruiting is stressful.

”I’m coming in as a two-way prospect – pitching and shortstop. But when Coach Mazey saw me I was pitching, so I think that is going to be my best bet to get on the field.”

You name it, no matter the arena, and Grove and countless coaches have made him into a standout performer. It didn’t happen overnight, mind you, and the product is still not finished.

”He’s a young kid looking to grab the bull by horns, so to speak, and I want guys like him in my camp,” Park baseball coach Mike McLeod said. ”He’s one of those special type of athletes that only knows one way to go, and that’s flat-out, 1,000 percent all the time.

“I hope (the Mountaineers) realize what type of person and student-athlete they are getting.”

A captain on last spring’s Intelligencer All-Valley baseball team, Grove was also named first team West Virginia Class AAA and OVAC 5A Player of the Year after hitting .488 for Wheeling Park with 26 RBI and five doubles. He was also 5-1 on the mound with 54 strikeouts.

”He wanted the ball in the state semifinal game and pitched phenomenal,” McLeod recalled. ”He told me after the game that if we ever get the opportunity to be in same spot, next time it will be different results.

”With the game on the line, he is a kid that wants to throw the pitch or be at the plate.”

McLeod added Grove’s work ethic is contagious, and that when the younger kids see the best player on the team working harder than everyone else, it raises the level of the program.

”We were practicing for the regional against Morgantown and Michael laid out for a ball,” McLeod said. ”I said ‘woah, we don’t need you doing that here.’ I have to tone him down.

”He only has one gear.”

McLeod said he gets more excited to see his players go on to college than he does watching them get a big hit or earn a victory.

”That is why I coach, to get kids in college,” he said. ”If they aren’t coming out of college with $80,000, $90,000 worth of bills to pay, that’s what it’s about.

”It’s not about winning OVAC championships.”

Grove, who owns a repertoire that includes his best pitch, a 91 mph fastball, as well as a curve and a slider, wants to major in business.