(Photo: ECU SID)
The influence of North Carolina
baseball coach Mike Fox is partially responsible for East Carolina being
in Chapel Hill for the best of three super regional that gets started at
noon on Saturday.
That's because ECU coach Billy Godwin
served as an assistant to Fox at Division III North Carolina Wesleyan
and Godwin credits Fox with influencing his coaching philosophy while on
the Bishops' staff in Rocky Mount.
"I learned about discipline," Godwin
said. "His teams are always very disciplined. They have tremendous work
ethic and he tends to get more out of a student-athlete than maybe was
expected. Those are the two big things.
"I challenged our team going into the
postseason that we had to be disciplined. That's something that I've
carried over from him that I've instilled in my coaching philosophy. I
saw how important that was."
Godwin explained more about what he
learned from the Tar Heels coach when Wesleyan won the Division III
championship in 1989 and finished third in 1990.
"I'm not talking about making the plays
at the right time or getting the big hit," Godwin said. "I'm talking
about not losing your cool, keep believing, hanging in there — don't let
negatives affect you, push through them. It's a nine-inning game — those
types of things."
The Pirates put those attributes to
a 10-9 win in 10 innings over
South Carolina for the regional championship after falling behind 6-0 on
Monday night. It takes a special group to win three elimination games in
the manner that ECU did in the regional, bouncing back
from a 12-2 loss to the
Gamecocks on Saturday to beat them twice for the title.
"These guys have unbelievable will,
desire and they have tremendous character," Godwin said. "Not only are
they very talented players, but you don't see a whole lot of finger
pointing when we don't do well. You see guys encouraging each other. You
see guys not giving up.
"When you add those characteristics
with talent, you've got a special group of young men."
Ideally, the Pirates would like to
preserve some of the late-game momentum that stirred the crowd of 5,047
at Clark-LeClair Stadium into an emotional frenzy on Monday night.
"Momentum is attitude if you really
break it down," Godwin said. "Our guys have a positive attitude now.
They have some confidence. We know that just carries over into North
"That's going to be a tough place
because their fans are going to be there. It's in their back yard. We're
going to have to go in there and have more resiliency than we've ever
Godwin hasn't been doing anything out
of the ordinary as the Pirates (46-18) have been preparing this week.
"We're kind of taking the same approach
to what we did last week," said the Pirates coach. "We're not taking
anything for granted. We're more in a maintenance mode — stuff that we
do all year. We're just trying to cover all the bases and get our guys
to feel good about every situation."
ECU is ranked 14th in a pair of
polls and 15th in another this
week. The Tar Heels (45-16), the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA
Tournament, provide a formidable challenge as they seek a fourth
straight trip to the College World Series in Omaha.
"We've got to get good starting
pitching," Godwin said. "That's where it starts. That's one thing I
challenged our team with as we tried to make that comeback through the
"We're not going to be in a five-game
situation. We know that. So we shouldn't be as depleted as maybe we
were. Just three games in three days at the most, not five games in
three days. So that's a positive side, but the guys who get the ball
have got to go out there and give us an opportunity to win into the game
so we don't overextend our bullpen — have options and have guys rested
as the series goes on.
"It's going to be a good challenge.
They've got a good pitching staff. We've got to continue to hit and put
runs up. That's going to be more difficult against the type of arms
we're going to face but our guys have to continue to be locked in
Attention to details will be vital,
"We've got to do the little things,"
Godwin said. "We've got to play good defense, run the bases well and
execute the situational hitting — the bunting, moving runners — those
The Pirates expect to see junior
right-hander Alex White in the series. White led D.H. Conley to the
state 4-A title in 2005. White is 7-4 with a 4.42 earned run average and
is considered a high draft prospect.
"I had a chance to get to know him and
his family in the recruiting process when I came here," Godwin said.
"He's an outstanding young man. He's a tremendous competitor. He's done
great things for the University of North Carolina.
"Again, it will be a great challenge
for our players to face a guy like him. He's a very, very fine young
Godwin said the Pirates are basically
"We've got some guys who, by the time
Saturday rolls around, physically will be at 80 or 90 percent," Godwin
said. "After playing all the games we've played, that's the case with
anybody, but when you step on that field and the first pitch is thrown,
the adrenaline takes you beyond 100 percent."