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View from the East
Thursday, June 13, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Tracy credits ECU experience for pro success

©2002 Bonesville.net

VIEW FROM THE EAST OUT-TAKES:
Former Pirate surprises even himself...
Advice from a guy who's been there...
Blue Devils take a painful hit early...
Herring earns scholarship, faces battle...
Maginnes formulates U.S. Open plan...

College
World
Series
June 14-22, 2002
Rosenblatt Stadium
Omaha, Nebraska

College World Series
Brackets, Schedule, TV Line-Up... More...

Pirate Baseball Super Page...

- CWS: Wooden bats still pack punch...
- CWS: Palmetto State raids Omaha...
- CWS: Notes & quotes from Omaha...
- CWS: Team capsule breakdowns...
- CWS: Brackets, schedule, TV info...
- Pirate ace follows genes to Rangers...
- Tracy credits ECU for pro success...
- Rookie Pirate slugger piles up loot...
- Baseball Writers All-America teams...
- CWS: Brackets, schedule, TV info...
- Luck stays with Irish in Tallahassee...
- Palmetto state sends two to Omaha...
- Pirates seeking answers for 2003...
- MLB drafts 19 from Conference USA...
- Pirates' eyes fixed on 2003 prize...
- Freshmen duo reaps national honors...
- Pirate battery scooped up in draft...
- Narron nabs Verizon Academic Honor...
- Omaha scripted in Pirates' future...
- Bonesville's teams trimmed to three...
- NCAA Regionals Wrap & Headlines...
- Omaha scratched from ECU itinerary...
- Houston, 'Cocks, Tigers advance...
- Pirates shake off heat to advance...
- Clemson rides error, HR to finals...
- Day two: C-USA, Carolinas recaps...
- LeClair's boys quash big Elon rally...
- Emotions run deep for Leggett...
- Day one: C-USA, Carolinas recaps...
- WCU ties: Leggett & Hennon Q & A...
- Exuberant Elon will face Narron...
- Inspiration pays ECU another visit...
- Four leagues dominate NCAA field...
- Pirates going to 'Reunion' regional...
- A first: Louisville gets NCAA berth...
- Pairings impacted by travel, safety...
- Pirates fought for title and more...

- C-USA Tourney Wrap & Headlines...

Magic batting mark in sight

The question many have posed is whether Chad Tracy can hit .400 or better.

After all, he was hitting .393 with four home runs and 42 RBIs as the Double-A El Paso Diablos began a series at Wichita in the Texas League on Wednesday night.

Tracy, MVP of East Carolina’s regional victory in Wilson in 2001, hit .355 as a junior at ECU with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in June of last year.

“I’ll go ahead and say it,” Tracy said Wednesday. “I’ve probably exceeded all my expectations. As the season has gone farther and farther, .400 seems more realistic. I never would have set a goal of .400 before the season, especially in my first pro season at Double-A.”

The transition from college to pro can be complicated by the adjustment from aluminum to wood bats. Extensive travel and longer seasons are factors to deal with, but Tracy has fit right in.

“I played two years in wooden bat summer leagues, the Shenandoah Valley and Cape Cod leagues,” he said. “You have to stay on the ball a lot longer with wood and try to drive the ball because wood doesn’t have the same pop as aluminum. Also, wooden bats don’t have as large a sweet spot.”

Pitching is generally tougher, too.

“Most of these guys can throw strikes with two or three different pitches,” Tracy said. “In college you could sit on fastball. Here, you need to make sure you keep your weight back because you can’t hit off your front foot.

"Pitchers here may be around the zone more, which may make it easier. There were some good pitchers in college but in Double-A the pitching is more consistent. There’s better talent.”

Tracy has adjusted as opponents have changed their approaches to pitching to him.

“Most teams have a way they think they can get me out,” Tracy said. “It’s definitely gotten tougher as the year has gone on. I don’t get as many pitches down the middle. They work me in and out. They throw a lot of change-ups and try to keep me off-balance.”

Tracy responded by going 3-for-6 in a 6-5 loss at Tulsa on Tuesday night. One factor in Tracy’s favor is that he bats third and the opposition can’t afford to pitch around him to get to clean-up hitter Rob Hammock, who is hitting .308.

Tracy followed ECU during the 2002 season. He said his parents went to about 20 ECU games and would keep him updated on the Pirates when he would call them at night after his own games with the El Paso team.

Tracy to Narron: Follow your heart     << Top of Page  >>

Being selected last June in the seventh round made Tracy’s decision to leave ECU easier, a decision faced by Pirates left-hander Sam Narron this year. It was announced on Wednesday that Narron, a 15th round draft choice by the Texas Rangers, managed by his uncle, Jerry, had decided to leave the Pirates for the pros.

“I felt this was the right time and right situation for me,” said Narron, a two-time academic All-America. “It was a very difficult decision. The past three years here at East Carolina have been the best three years of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better experience."

Narron, whose 26 career wins rank sixth on the ECU list, will report to the Pulaski (VA) Rangers of the Appalachian League.

“If Sam asked me for advice I would just tell him to follow his heart,” Tracy said. “My goal was to play pro ball and I felt I was physically and mentally ready because of my experience at East Carolina. Coach (Keith) LeClair, coach (Kevin) McMullan and all the coaches (at ECU) ran their practices like the pros and taught the same things. No question I was prepared for the pros.”

ECU fans will remember Tracy for a home run in the first game of the super regional in Kinston against Tennessee that put the Pirates ahead 10-9 in a game ECU had trailed 9-2. It was a mammoth shot that landed on a warehouse well beyond the right field fence of Grainger Stadium.

It was a special moment even though the Volunteers rallied in the ninth inning for a 13-10 win.

“I’l never forget that, even if I go on to a big professional career,” Tracy said. “People had tears in their eyes in the dugout and I did, too. We had fought back. It was an awesome feeling.”

Tracy feels he will have a chance to make the major league club, the Diamondbacks.

“Anybody who goes in the top 10 rounds, you would think the major league club envisions them making it to the higher levels,” Tracy said. “But it’s all up to the player. A guy taken in the lower rounds can come in and work and learn and work his way up.

“I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to work on my footwork at third base and be more consistent defensively. I don’t know if they’re looking for home runs but I want to improve my power numbers.”

Tough break for Duke     << Top of Page  >>

With a 23-game losing streak going into its Aug. 31 home season opener with East Carolina, it wouldn’t seem that things could get much worse for Duke.

But they have.

Duke senior quarterback D. Bryant has been ruled academically ineligible and will not play his senior season with the Blue Devils football team. In 22 career games with the Blue Devils, Bryant completed 316-of-642 passes for 3,902 yards with 16 touchdowns. On Duke's career lists, he ranks sixth in pass attempts, seventh in pass completions, seventh in passing yards, eighth in total offense (3,821 yards) and ninth in touchdown passes.

Bryant, who started 18 games at quarterback, holds the school record for consecutive pass completions with 16 set at N.C. State on November 11, 2000.

Duke coach Carl Franks is understandably disappointed.

“We are disappointed that D. will not have the opportunity to finish his playing career here at Duke,” Franks said in a statement from the university. “He has played an important role in our football program these last two seasons. We will do everything possible to assist him in completing his football eligibility at another institution, possibly at an NAIA school. We wish him the best in his future endeavors and hope he can still complete his degree requirements to graduate from Duke.”

Bryant, a Charlotte product who also played on the basketball team during his career at Duke, echoed Franks’ comments.

“This is an unfortunate situation under difficult circumstances,” Bryant said. “I have enjoyed my time here at Duke and have made great relationships with many people. I will certainly miss my teammates and wish them the best of luck. I hope to play college football at another school this fall and return to Duke in the future to earn my degree.”

Long rehab ahead     << Top of Page  >>

ECU men’s basketball forward Jason Herring faces 10 to 18 months of rehabilitation following extensive knee surgery, a span that means he will likely miss the 2002-03 season.

After a car accident on May 26, Herring had to have the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments repaired in his right knee.

“Right now we’re just working on range of motion, getting him to bend and straighten the knee and keep the swelling out,” said Jeff Boyer, assistant athletics trainer for the Pirates. “The next phase will be to start strengthening the muscles. Once he’s through with that, we start the sports specific phase to regain balance and jumping ability.

“The last part is planting, cutting and basketball-related drills. It looks like he’ll be out a minimum of 10 months, but stranger things have happened.”

Herring was an academic non-qualifier after averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds at Philadelphia Lutheran Prep for the 2000-01 season.

The Brooklyn native had just been placed on scholarship shortly before the car accident in New Hanover County. Football offensive lineman Brandon Pope was apparently driving en route to Myrtle Beach and fell asleep at the wheel.

Both Pope and Herring were airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. Pope received stitches for a cut on his chin.

Because of Herring’s size and athleticism, Pirates coach Bill Herrion had hoped Herring would contribute next season. The ECU coach had doubts because of the time Herring had been away from organized competition. Now that time will be considerably longer — providing Herring can handle the aspect of physically recovering from the structural damage to his knee.

Maginnes entertaining     << Top of Page  >>

Former ECU golfer John Maginnes gave an entertaining interview on the Golf Channel on the eve of today’s start of the U.S. Open at the Black Course of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, NY.

Maginnes thought he had qualified in a playoff only as an alternate for the 102nd annual event but U.S. Golf Association officials later contacted him and told him that they had made a mistake. There were supposed to be 23 qualifiers from his regional, rather than 22.

That meant Maginnes was in the Open for the third time in his career. He tied for 71st in 1995 and missed the cut last year.

“I hadn’t played for four weeks before the Open last year because of the birth of my daughter,” said Maginnes, who won the Carolina Classic on the Buy.com Tour at Wakefield Plantation in 2001 just two weeks before Sophie was born. “The Open is not an event that you want to go into rusty.”

Despite the length (7,214 yards) of the par 70 layout, Maginnes said the relatively-flat greens might give someone who can get their putter hot — such as himself — the hope of a darkhorse.

“Does 12-over have a chance?,” he asked his hosts on the Golf Channel. “Because that’s what I’ve been averaging in the Open.”

But, seriously.

“I can see somebody shooting a 63 or 64 out here one round and holding on,” said Maginnes, who was born in Atlanta, went to high school at Northern Durham and now resides in Greensboro. His older child, Jack Bristol, will be four on Nov. 14. His wife, Dena, used to caddy for him.

“I want to play five more years and then become the best Little League coach in Guilford County,” Maginnes said before this year’s Buy.com stop in Raleigh.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 12:58:40 AM
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