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ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

Godwin redraws roadmap to Omaha


Anyone who has followed East Carolina baseball in recent years knows the team’s annual goal: Get to Omaha.

But as the new Pirate head coach has learned, the College World Series can’t be the sole focus of the season. If the big picture dominates the landscape too much, Billy Godwin said, the crucial smaller pieces might get ignored.

“Omaha’s a process,” Godwin said. “Omaha is a goal, but you can’t look at it and get bogged down by what the process is to get there. So we’ve kind of backed away, and said, ‘We’re committed to you individually, to make the best players we can.’ Because if I get a better pitcher or a better hitter or a better infielder, I get a better player. If I get nine better players, I get a better team.

“That’s kind of the way I have always approached my coaching style, is that we’re going to pay a lot of attention to detail. We’re going to do things right. We’re not going to move on until we have them correct.”

With Friday’s announcement that Godwin’s “interim” tag had been removed, he became the 10th head coach in the history of the baseball program. By acting quickly on his confidence in Godwin rather than conducting a lengthy search, athletic director Terry Holland added stability to a program that has a recent history of both success and instability.

“It feels good for a lot of reasons,” Godwin said. “It’s good for our players, it’s good for recruiting, it’s good for East Carolina University to have a solid situation.”

Holland was complimentary of Godwin’s leadership at the Oct. 11 press conference when Godwin was introduced as the interim skipper, but the ECU AD said last week that his awareness of Godwin’s character and coaching skills have only been underscored by his performance during these uncertain weeks.

“This announcement will end speculation that could become a distraction as our team and coaches build a foundation for the journey to the College World Series,” Holland said. “My initial impressions of Coach Godwin's abilities to lead our program, as expressed in my announcement earlier this month, have been confirmed by the performance of his duties under the most difficult of circumstances in recent weeks.”

For now, those duties include running the team’s off-season practice and conditioning program and reviewing applications for the final assistant coach’s position — an important hire, he said, that he doesn’t wish to rush. He has also been getting better acquainted with the players, most of whom he met when he arrived at ECU as the pitching coach in June. At his previous job — the head coach at Louisburg College — Godwin coached current Pirates Brody Taylor, Jeff Ostrander, Adam Hodges and Carter Harrell.

Just as Holland evaluated Godwin’s grace under pressure, Godwin has nothing but praise for the young men who have been more affected than anyone else by the recent coaching turnovers within the program.

“At times of adversity your character is tested,” he said. “I know I told our team, when this first happened, I said, ‘This is a test.’ And I would say, three-and-a-half weeks after that, they earned an A-plus. And that speaks a lot for their leadership.”

The feeling is mutual for the players, who are relieved to see a decrease of off-the-field distractions as they practice following their new leader.

“Coach Godwin’s doing a great job with all of us,” said sophomore pitcher T.J. Hose. I think the chemistry on the team is great. He’s very personable. He talks about other situations outside of baseball, how are classes going, how’s you’re family? He’s looking out for you.

“It’s great that we got him to be the head coach because he’s the perfect fit for East Carolina.”

“All the guys are behind Coach Godwin,” said senior catcher Jake Smith. “Everybody’s real confident that he can turn it around, and they’re ready to go forward.”

Items of note

  ***  It was Randy Mazey’s last act as ECU’s head baseball coach, but he departed from the Pirates with a bang. His Pirate players raised $15,066.81 for the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund in the 100-inning charity baseball game on Oct. 9.

  ***  The Pirate basketball team has already suffered a blow before it lines up against its first opponent. ECU announced on Tuesday that junior forward David Bell, who was already forced to sit out last season after transferring from LaSalle University, will miss an undetermined part of the season due to a knee injury he suffered during “Minges Madness” on Oct. 21. At LaSalle, Bell averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds a game.

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02/23/2007 01:11:50 AM

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