By Jonathan Harkey
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
During West Virginia's 2011 baseball campaign, starting pitcher Harrison Musgrave's freshman season was going strong with the Mountaineers. The history major from Bridgeport, W.Va., had compiled 10 starts with a total of 56.2 innings pitched, a 4-2 record with a 4.61 ERA and 41 strikeouts.
His debut performance for WVU was one to remember, striking out eight batters while giving up no runs on three hits in 6.2 innings against Penn State. He also recorded his first win in a seven-inning performance against Rider, where he struck out nine batters while only surrendering one run on six hits. His most impressive start came against Georgetown later that season, where he threw a complete game shutout allowing only three hits to the Hoyas.
Musgrave's fast start to his career would unfortunately come to a grinding halt, as he suffered an injury to his throwing arm that required Tommy John surgery. He was unable to finish his freshman season, and redshirted his sophomore year while he was rehabbing his arm.
"(The injury) was unfortunate because I didn't get to finish my whole freshman year," Musgrave said. "It was one of those things where I tried to have the surgery as soon as possible, so I could at least pitch this year (2013) without missing anything."
Musgrave quickly started rehabbing and was able to return to throwing about four months following surgery.
Musgrave also had to adjust his throwing motion and worked with his coaches to prevent aggravating or having another major setback.
"I used to throw across my body a lot, so I had to throw more overhand and straight. I also did some things to take some stress off my arm. That way I didn't risk re-tearing it. Now my arm doesn't nearly get as sore as before the surgery. The coaches also have me use my legs a lot more in order to take stress off my arm so it doesn't aggravate it and make it worse."
While Musgrave was out of commission, the Mountaineer baseball program underwent monumental changes. Randy Mazey was brought in to become the new head coach, and West Virginia moved from the Big East to one of the best baseball conferences in the country, the Big 12. There are even plans for a new baseball stadium. He returned to the field with some noticeable differences in the program. However, Musgrave still approaches how he pitches the same way.
"It's not really that different, you just have to pitch against the teams that come up, it doesn't matter who they are," he said. "It is exciting though going from the Big East to the Big 12. It's also exciting getting a new coaching staff. They bring in new perspectives, new ideas and new philosophies. So far it's been fun working with them."
As the WVU baseball program continues its inaugural Big 12 season, Musgrave is back into the Mountaineer starting rotation and is hoping that he, along with the rest of his team, remains consistent, although now, he finds it tough with winter in Morgantown just coming to an end.
"I think the biggest challenge for us will be to stay consistent with what we do offensively. We are limited to what we can do right now because we can't go outside as much," said Musgrave. "We also need to stay consistent with what the pitchers need to do to be successful. If we stay consistent throughout the season, then I think we will be alright. We are going to take it one game at a time."
In West Virginia's first Big 12 series last weekend against Kansas State, Musgrave won his second game of the season, throwing 6.1 innings and striking out six, while only surrendering two runs on two hits. He has so far compiled a 2-1 record in five starts, with 29.2 innings pitched and 17 strikeouts.