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View from the 'ville
Friday, June 19, 2009

By Al Myatt

Godwin's gone fishing ... for Trout

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

The baseball season may be over but East Carolina coach Billy Godwin hasn't stopped working. The Pirate skipper flew to Philadelphia on Thursday night to start a nine-day recruiting trip.

Asked if he planned to visit Mike Trout, an ECU signee who went in the first round of the major league draft, Godwin replied, "I'm going to find another Mike Trout."

The slugging Trout, an outfielder from Millville, NJ, signed with the Pirates before he was taken 25th overall in the MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels. Trout, who hit .531 as a senior with 18 home runs, is reportedly seeking a bonus in the $2.5 million range.

ECU signee Nick McBride, a right-handed pitcher from Jamestown Ragsdale, was taken by the Texas Rangers in the fifth round; Walker Gourley, an infielder from Eastern Wayne, went to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round; and first baseman John Wooten of Eastern Wayne was selected by the San Diego Padres in round 20.

The Washington Nationals picked right-hander Joseph Hughes in the 40th round, the Philadelphia Phillies chose hometown outfielder Chris Gosik in the 49th round and lefty Tyler Joyner went to the Cleveland Indians in the 50th round.

"It's an outstanding class," Godwin said. "With that many drafted, obviously somebody else thinks they're good, too. ...

"At this point, we haven't lost anybody to my knowledge. I would expect two, possibly three (to sign pro contracts), but in the recruiting process we kind of plan for that. We want those top players, but we also kind of have back-up plans."

Among ECU's returning players, Godwin said he expected right-hander Chris Heston to sign with the San Francisco Giants. Outfielder Devin Harris was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth round.

"They've made an offer but they're still a little bit apart in terms of what he's looking," Godwin said of his recent discussions with Harris.

Harris was Mr. Clutch in the Greenville regional final as his three-run homer in the ninth tied the score with South Carolina at 9 and his single in the tenth brought home Kyle Roller with the winning run for a 10-9 ECU triumph.

Cavaliers coming ... possibly

The Virginia Cavaliers, who won the ACC Tournament and then went on the road to win their super regional at Ole Miss, are tentatively scheduled to provide the opposition at Clark-LeClair Stadium when the Pirates open the 2010 season.

"We were scheduled to open up with South Carolina in a return trip for when we went to Columbia (to start the 2008 campaign)," Godwin said. "The NCAA came out about a month ago and granted us an additional week."

So the Cavs accepted ECU's invitation to come to Greenville. Godwin has had a chance to scout UVa to a degree via telecasts of the College World Series.

"They're young," Godwin said. "Their team is going to be a very similar team. ... It's exciting to me. We've scheduled these great programs. We feel like we have a great program. We don't look at it as a threat. We look at it as a great opportunity for us to do something good."

Godwin said there may be a problem with the Virginia series.

"I was talking with (South Carolina coach) Ray Tanner (Thursday) and there is an override by the northern schools trying to take that week away," Godwin said. "Who knows? We get a week. We don't get a week. I don't know.

"I can't believe they'd grant it to us and come back now after the schedule's been done and try to override it."

Fox on Godwin

North Carolina coach Mike Fox learned first hand about Godwin's coaching potential when the current ECU mentor was on his staff at North Carolina Wesleyan in 1989 and 1990. The Bishops won the NCAA Division III championship in 1989.

"I want to congratulate East Carolina on the tremendous season they had," Fox said after the Tar Heels won the super regional in Chapel Hill. "Bill and I do go way back. He's done a terrific job there and I did not doubt that he would. He's taken a kind of journey like I have here, a coaching journey.

"He's worked hard and he deserves to be where he is. That program, I think is going to be good for a long time."

Holland says NCAA pleased

ECU hosted its first baseball regional in Greenville in 2009 and things went well, according to athletic director Terry Holland.

"The NCAA folks have been very pleased," Holland said in the aftermath of the dramatic win over the Gamecocks. "That doesn't help you a whole lot when the selection process is going on but at least it certainly doesn't hurt you. Their comments have been tremendous as well as the teams which were here.

"I think that will help us in the future. We've got a place that people recognize as a great baseball community, a great baseball facility and people who care about the game."

Holland said he was worried when South Carolina built an early 6-0 lead in the regional championship game and the Pirates were plagued with runners left on base.

"But this is a team that continues to battle," said the ECU AD. "We do have a lot of firepower and you never know where it's going to come from. ... Our overall batting order is very difficult for any team to face."

USM carries C-USA banner

Coach Godwin got some vicarious satisfaction as Southern Miss stunned host Florida in the Gainesville super regional to earn a berth in the College World Series, giving retiring Golden Eagles coach Corky Palmer a long-awaited trip to Omaha.

"I was just so happy for them," Godwin said. "It was exciting to see their team get on a roll. It was good for our league. I don't know how many years it goes back with Rice but we kept our streak alive in Conference USA of getting a team to Omaha."

Rice won the NCAA title in 2003. The Owls returned to the CWS in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

"I think it speaks volumes for our league to have three teams (ECU, Rice, Southern Miss) in the super regionals," Godwin said. "The three that were selected (to the NCAA Tournament) — all three made the super regionals.

"We were very excited for Southern Miss. I've got a closer relationship with their guys than probably anybody in our league. It's not that I'm not excited for other people but they (Palmer and successor Scott Berry) were both junior college coaches, kind of like myself. They kind of came up the hard way."

Skip on Father's Day

The Conference USA website has a video with a number of league coaches sharing their thoughts about Father's Day, which is coming up on Sunday.

"I have a perspective that my sons now carry," said ECU football coach Skip Holtz, whose own father, of course, is legendary former football coach Lou Holtz. "I can remember being a little kid and being at practice and you have the opportunity to be around your heroes, and your idols and get to know 'em and eat dinner with them and spend some time with them.

"It's an incredible atmosphere and environment to be able to grow up in."

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06/19/2009 02:20:15 AM


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