school year won't go down as the best in ECU athletics history, but it
has certainly been one of the most memorable.
The roller coaster ride began with another tough football season that
produced only two wins; was buoyed by the hiring of new athletics
director Terry Holland; saw the firing of football coach John Thompson;
got a lift with the hiring of Skip Holtz; hit another bump in the road
when Bill Herrion was told he wouldn't be invited back as the
basketball coach; hit a season high when Clark-LeClair Stadium opened
in March; stabilized when Ricky Stokes was hired; and hit rock bottom
when the baseball team started conference play by losing eight of its
first 11 games.
The Diamond Bucs were beat up at the beginning of April and looking for
any healthy arm to put on the mound. Leading hitter Billy Richardson
broke a bone in his left wrist, and everyone was asking what next. But
then things started looking up. The Pirates found some dependable young
players like T.J. Hose, Ryan Peisel and Dale Mollenhauer. They made a
run to not only get into the Conference USA Tournament, but ending up
Them something amazing happened. Amazing to all those Pirate fans who
have carried that chip on their shoulder caused by years of their
perceived slight by big time college athletics. The Pirates were picked
off the bubble and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It
wasn't the Diamond Bucs' best season ever as far as wins go, but maybe
ECU's past success and its gutsy determination to deal with adversity
this year helped the program gain some respect around the nation. The
program has certainly reached a consistently high level. It's the
seventh straight year ECU has gone to a regional; only 11 other
college's can boast such a streak.
And maybe, just maybe, after such a tumultuous year, maybe ECU has a
little bit of that magic left to do what it has never done before; make
that run to Omaha. Maybe the roller coaster ride will give its fans one
last big thrill. It would be a fitting end to one of the most memorable
years in ECU Athletics history.