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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Monday, December 13, 2004

By Al Myatt

Mazey braced for tough slate in new digs

Bonesville Magazine
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• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again

• HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS

• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
 

©2004 Bonesville.net

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 last week.

"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 Tournament.

"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 losses.

"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 as well.

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 said.

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 now."

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02/23/2007 12:47:03 AM
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