Carolina baseball gets back
to the diamond against Maryland on Feb 10th, and if you ask
me it can’t come soon enough. The season ended last year leaving much
to be desired, and the events that transpired in the off-season only
added to the bad taste left in the collective mouths of fans of Pirate
has become an annual
event, the ECU athletic department hosted “Meet the Pirates” last
weekend, and it provided the first opportunity for fans to refocus
their attention on the field as the team prepares for another season.
Fans in attendance were able to sit down and
eat with the players and coaches, get autographs, hear Coach Godwin’s
preview of the season, and see something truly special. In what
has now become a Pirate tradition at this
event, Coach Godwin named Adam Witter as this year’s player selected to
wear the number 23 to honor former Pirate coach Keith LeClair.
year’s ceremony however,
was extra special. Coach Godwin brought
back the three previous honorees (Ben Sanderson, Jamie Paige, and Brian
Cavanaugh) for the presentation. Last
years honoree, Cavanaugh, presented the award to Witter. The four
also introduced a framed jersey with number
23 and a picture of Keith LeClair that will hang in the team’s
clubhouse for years to come. Good way to
put a positive feeling back into Pirate Baseball.
year, the Pirates battled through
a lot on the way to the teams 7th consecutive NCAA regional
appearance. There was the rash of
injuries, especially to Pirate pitchers. ECU
sustained season ending injuries to five pitchers that were expected to
see major time on the mound. The Pirates
also were forced to play their first 8 games on the road as
Clark-LeClair stadium was being completed, and for the season played
more games on the road than they did at home.
adversity staring them in
the face, the Pirates finished with another strong season. East
Carolina won 35 games, and competed in the
teams 7th consecutive NCAA regional. After
the season, we all learned that the Pirates had bigger issues
internally than anything they might have faced on the field.
weeks after the season
concluded, the Pirates learned that the team’s two top assistants were
leaving the program. Recruiting
coordinator, and hitting instructor Allen Osbourne, and longtime
pitching coach and former Pirates catcher, Tommy Eason both elected to
continue their coaching careers elsewhere.
heard the news that
surprised everyone. Only a few short
months from the start of the season, head coach Randy Mazey was
dismissed. That left newly signed
assistants Billy Godwin and Link Jarrett in charge of the program.
Shortly afterwards, Godwin was named head
coach after a brief period under interim status.
a tumultuous year at
best for the Pirates, however things are even better now than they have
been. Despite the late notice, East
Carolina was able to bring George Whitfield back to the program.
Whitfield brings a wealth of experience
locally at the high school, and legion levels, not to mention the six
years he was an assistant at ECU under Keith LeClair. Add that to
the experience of Link Jarrett, the
Pirates hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator. Coach
Jarrett has been to Omaha as a coach and
player, and has coached and played with some of the best at Florida
State. ECU athletics director Terry
Holland, and Associate AD Nick Floyd deserve a tremendous amount of
credit for acting with speed and resolve to restore a sense of
leadership to Pirate baseball when the team needed it most.
To top it
off, they couldn’t have
found a better coach than Billy Godwin. Coach
Godwin has had amazing success at each level he has coached. From
taking N.C. Wesleyan to the Div. III
National Championship, to a state championship at the Enfield Academy,
to five straight Region X championships, and trips to the NJCAA College
World Series with Louisburg College. Coach
Godwin is very capable of winning, and winning immediately at ECU.
mix of new and returning
players, and the wealth of experience in the coaching staff, it seems
there is no way this team cannot succeed. The
Pirates have formulated a plan for success and have put together a
group that is capable of taking this program to the next level, Omaha.