College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
Monday, December 13, 2004
By Al Myatt
Mazey braced for tough slate
in new digs
WHERE TO BUY...
PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
New Leader Takes Charge
SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
The strength of schedule component in the ratings power index doesn't
project as a weak point for East Carolina after its
2005 baseball schedule was announced
"I think it's the toughest schedule we've played since I've been here," said
Randy Mazey, who enters his third season at the helm of the ECU program.
"Sometimes when you make plans to play teams two years ahead, you don't know
how good they're going to be. Our schedule is filled with teams that made
the NCAA field."
ECU has 23 games with 12 different clubs that were in the 2004 NCAA
"It's turned out to be an extremely tough schedule," Mazey said. "We really
have to play well to have a good season."
ECU leads off with an NCAA Tournament team when it opens the season with a
3-game series at College of Charleston on Friday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.
The first nine games are in South Carolina to allow the final stages of work
on a new home for ECU baseball to be completed. The Pirates match up with
Clemson, West Virginia and N.C. State before playing in Greenville.
The Pirates will move into a new $8 million stadium as they seek their
seventh straight NCAA Tournament berth. ECU's first home game will be on
Friday, March 4, at 11 a.m. against Michigan in the second annual Keith
LeClair Invitational. The Pirates will also meet Arizona State and Georgia
in the event honoring the venerable former coach who has been stricken with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
North Carolina is in the LeClair event but the Pirates and Tar Heels don't
play until Wednesday, April 13, in Greenville and again on Tuesday, May 17,
in Chapel Hill. The Pirates play N.C. State in Raleigh on Wednesday, April
6, and in Greenville two weeks later.
ECU will meet UNC Wilmington on Wednesday, March 16, in the Port City and a
week later at home.
Construction has been moving along on the new home of ECU baseball and Mazey
anticipates practicing on campus at the new facility beginning Jan. 15. The
Pirates pitching staff will be more mature and the batting lineup will be
counting on some players stepping up to fill some significant personnel
"Every good team has a mix of bangers in the middle of the lineup and guys
at the top and bottom who can move the baseball," Mazey said. "We'll still
be pretty steady in the middle with guys like Mark Minicozzi, Jake Smith,
Drew Costanzo and Mike Grace."
Among the returning players, Minicozzi had the best numbers in ECU's school
record 51-win season in 2004, with a .342 average, 10 home runs and 50 RBIs.
Mazey is counting junior college transfer Jay Mattox in the banger category
The ECU coach also is confident that shortstop Billy Richardson, a superb
glove, will be more productive offensively as a senior.
Freshmen Dale Mollenhauer and Harrison Eldridge will get opportunities to
contribute at the outset of their collegiate careers.
"Those guys will play a lot early," Mazey said. "Ideally, you might like to
bring them along a little slower, maybe let them split some time early on,
but we're in a situation of having to count on some new players."
Right-hander Shane Mathews projects as the anchor of the pitching staff
after going 7-1 last season as a freshman with a 3.72 earned run average.
Ricky Brooks threw 37 innings last season as a freshman and hard-throwing
Mike Flye (5 saves) flashed some exciting potential in his first season as a
collegian in 2004.
Mazey has questions about senior lefty Brody Taylor (8-0, 4.64) and senior
right-hander Carter Harrell (5-2, 3.00) after each had offseason surgery.
Sophomore lefty Jason Neitz had surgery after the 2003 season and only
pitched three innings last year.
"Sometimes guys come back better after surgery and sometimes they don't,"
Mazey and staff have put together a talented class to arrive at ECU next
season if recruiting isn't circumvented by the pro draft.
"It's probably the best fall class since I've been here," Mazey said. "We
don't get real excited though. Because of the draft, we could lose every one
of them, but as far as the type of players we have I would be happy to have
that class at any ACC or SEC school."
The new stadium has been an asset in recruiting and will allow ECU to do
something it has not been able to do during its current string of NCAA
appearances host postseason games.
"That should be an advantage," Mazey said. "All we have to do is get there
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02/23/2007 12:47:03 AM