ARTICLE OF THE DAY
of the Year
by Josh Spence
Let me put in my
selection now for college baseball's coaching staff of the year.
The job the ECU staff (Mazey, Eason, and Osborne) has done this year to
overcome adversity is nothing short of incredible. This past
weekend the Pirates went to Birmingham, Alabama for the biggest series
of the year and probably the one of the biggest regular season series
in the career of coach Mazey and the Pirates. Going in, both
teams were tied at 13-11, for fifth in the conference standings,
neither guaranteed a spot in the conference tournament, much less an
NCAA regional. East Carolina won their sixth consecutive
Conference USA series in decisive fashion, sweeping UAB three games to
none. Not only did the Pirates secure a conference tournament
berth, but they put themselves in position to fight for the third seed.
There is no question of the enormous talent this Pirate baseball team
possesses. However, when you look at how much of that talent was
lost last year to the MLB draft and consider the number of injuries the
current team has endured, the coaching has to stand out as a big reason
for success. No, the Pirates are not on pace to win fifty games
this year, but they are 32-20 overall, and five games above .500 in a
difficult baseball conference. Consider that an
underachievement? Please see ECU's football and basketball record
over the past few years.
Think about the amount of help the Pirates have gotten from freshmen
this year. A combined 112 starts for position players Harrsion
Eldridge, Dale Mollenhauer, and Ryan Peisel. All three have been
huge in the field for East Carolina. Plus all three are among the
top six Pirates in batting average. What about T.J. Hose?
The freshman right-hander has flourished all year, but especially since
stepping up to the starting role. The Pirates are 7-0 when T.J.
starts, and Hose is in second place Conference USA in opponents batting
Again there is no question about the talent of these players.
Full potential however, cannot be realized without guidance. The
job that has been performed by the entire coaching staff has been
extremely commendable. After all, let's not forget who recruited
this young talent in the first place. Another mark of a fine
coaching staff is the marked improvement of so many players.
There is something to be said for increased playing time and improving
a player's consistency, but several Pirates have excelled this season
compared to previous accomplishments. Billy Richardson, for
starters, went from hitting in the nine-hole last year, to lead-off
man, and before he was hurt, he was a candidate for Conference
player-of-the-year honors. For the season, Brian Cavanaugh has
nearly doubled his career batting average, and more than doubled his
career total for home runs. Adam Witter has also shown
substantial improvement. Ricky Brooks went from last year's 2-3
record with an E.R.A. of 6.32, to a 5-4 record with a 3.73 E.R.A., and
was a ninth inning single away from two no-hitters on the year.
Congratulations in advance to the Pirate coaches and players for this
year's accomplishments. No matter what happens the rest of the
year, I will be impressed by this team's success, and don't be
surprised if this team makes a run in the post-season.