Good Ending to a Tough Year
by Brian North

The 2004-05 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 finishing fourth.

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.

Brian North