A season-opening sweep of
Youngstown State at Clark-LeClair Stadium really didn't teach
East Carolina baseball coach Billy Godwin a lot about his
refurbished team, but it did confirm some of his feelings about
the 2011 group's potential.
"What I kind of thought is what
kind of came out," Godwin said. "I thought we pitched and we
played great defense. I thought we executed offensively for the
most part. Looking back over it, I probably wasn't as happy with
our offensive execution on Saturday. We didn't have that many
opportunities. I think maybe you have to credit their pitcher
(starter Kevin McCulloch, 6 innings, 0 runs).. It's tough to
come out and just score 10 runs every game. The game's not that
The season opener certainly
didn't start well as leadoff batter David Leon homered off of
ECU's Seth Maness (1-0, 1.29 earned run average) on an 0-1 pitch
to begin the game.
"I think it was a bad pitch,"
Godwin said. "I think if you talked to Seth, he'd tell you the
same thing. I think it was just up. My reaction was, 'So what?
Let's go.' I think you saw the true competitor in Seth come out
because he really settled in right after that and went to work."
The Pirates came back for
an 11-3 victory last
Friday. ECU's starters allowed only Leon's homer in 17 innings
last weekend and Godwin will stick with Maness, Zach Woods and
Mike Wright this weekend for a three-game set at No. 10 Virginia
beginning at 5 p.m. today. Woods started Saturday's 1-0 win and
Wright was on the mound to begin Sunday's 10-0 triumph over the
Wright was the least
experienced of ECU's starting mound corps.
"He threw very well for us the
other day," Godwin said of Wright. "You look at the line. He
didn't give up a lot of hits (three). People might say he didn't
have a lot of strikeouts (one in five innings) but he didn't
have a lot of balls squared up against him either. That's our
whole philosophy — let's attack and try to get an out in three
pitches or less. Hopefully, it's weak contact."
Virginia has wins over UAB, No.
23 Auburn, and Arkansas State at Auburn as well as VMI at home.
The Cavs are hitting .312 as a team and the staff ERA is 2.50.
"It's a great opportunity and
I'm going to be honest," Godwin said. "I know they've got a
great program and they're going to have good players but I just
want to focus on us. We've certainly got to play at a high
level. Anytime you go on the road, you've got to play at a high
Godwin met with team captains
on Monday to put together a plan of preparation for this
"I really thought I was going
to come up with some great scheme of preparation," Godwin said.
"Really we just went right back and did the repetitive things.
We practiced a lot of fundamentals and repetition. I think the
team that comes out and plays the best in this series is going
to be the team that makes the fewest mistakes."
Pirate freshmen produce
Godwin thought highly of his
group of new players and they produced quickly.
"I was excited," Godwin said.
"I think it's easy for us to identify as coaches in this game
what a high level player looks like. For them to go out and
perform, that becomes kind of another element in itself. I was
real excited for those guys. Jack (Reinheimer, shortstop) and
Drew (Reynolds, third base) both played very well on the left
side. I thought Chase (McDonald, designated hitter) swung the
"They all got hits in their
first at-bat. That was kind of cool. Ben Fultz came in and in
his first college at-bat, got a hit, too. Chase hit his first
home run. It was a good experience to get their feet under 'em.
I think the sky's the limit for those guys. We recruited them
here because we believe that but it's a long haul. We're going
to have some ups and downs, but they've just got to keep working
and keep grinding."
The road factor
Obviously playing on the road
against a ranked opponent is a bigger challenge than the opening
"It's a factor," said the ECU
coach. "The first factor is you're not in your own environment.
You're not at home sleeping in your own bed. I think the
quickest thing for coaches that we try to do is that immediately
wherever we go on the road is to establish a schedule for our
players. We're going to do this. Your bed check is at this time.
You're not going to sleep all morning. We're going to have
breakfast at this time.
"There's a regimented schedule
already in place for them.
"As far as the game itself,
we're playing on 90-foot bases. It's the old Hoosiers (movie)
thing. The foul line is still 15 feet. It's really no different.
I'm sure Virginia will have a good crowd. Our guys have played
in front of some great crowds on the road, like Southern Miss,
Tulane and Rice. For our new players, again, I think this is
another hurdle in their maturation process that they're going to
have to go through. It will be interesting to see how they react
on the road in front of a good crowd."
The Pirates were scheduled to
bus up to Charlottesville on Thursday afternoon.
Godwin expected to see an ECU
contingent at Virginia as well.
"I've never been anywhere since
I've been at East Carolina that East Carolina people didn't show
up so I'm sure we'll have a good turnout since it's not that
far. We probably had a hundred fans on the West Coast last
McMullan still in Cav camp
Kevin McMullan is in his fifth
year as associate head coach at Virginia and his eighth year
overall with the Cavalier program. McMullan, of course, was the
acting head coach at ECU in 2002 when disabilities sidelined
Keith LeClair. The Pirates won the Conference USA Tournament in
Kinston that year.
'I know Kevin very well,"
Godwin said. "He's a really good baseball man, a great person, a
Godwin's arrival at ECU didn't
overlap with McMullan's tenure.
"I actually dealt more with him
being at Louisburg in recruiting here (at ECU) and at Virginia
from our program (at Louisburg)," Godwin said.