There has been plenty of speculation over the past few weeks about whether third-year Virginia Tech baseball manager Pat Mason would be retained for a fourth season in 2017. Most fans believed that a change was likely coming especially once the Hokies completed a 2016 season in which they lost the most games in a single season in program history along with breaking the school record for the longest losing streak in a season.
However, some surprising news came out today regarding Mason’s future.
Patrick Mason will return next season as #Hokies baseball coach, per source.
— Mark Berman (@BermanRoanoke) May 25, 2016
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) May 25, 2016
During his three seasons in charge of the Hokies, Mason has only taken Virginia Tech to the ACC Tournament once in 2015 when the Hokies finished the season with a .500 overall record. In both 2014 and 2016, the Hokies finished below .500 with this season being arguably the worst in program history.
To say this is surprising is an understatement as most believed a change would be likely even though Mason has only been in charge for three years. With English Field getting the Union Bank sponsorship and undergoing a renovation that will be finished in time for the 2018 season, the thinking was that the Hokies make the change now in an attempt to build on-field momentum for 2018 while allowing a new manager to bring in two recruiting class before renovations were completed.
One issue could have been Mason’s salary as while it isn’t that high, having to pay two managers may be difficult along with the fact that it may be easier to get a manager once the English Field renovations are about half-way completed.
Instead, Mason will get one more season to get things turned around despite the fact that the program clearly seems to be headed in the wrong direction right now. 2017 will be decisive for Mason as anything short of an ACC Tournament makes a coaching change even more certain than many thought it was this season.
One big thing the Hokies will have to do is not only improve on the field but also regain the confidence from fans and students after a disappointing season definitely hurt interest in the program. With English Field renovations set to be done in 2018, Whit Babcock and Pat Mason both will need to help improve Hokie Nation’s confidence in the direction of the baseball program next year.
The pressure will be on Mason next season with the Hokies most of their team after a very disappointing season. If things don’t improve drastically, it will be probably be all but certain that the Hokies will make coaching change.