NEWS, NOTES &
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
Bucs stick to the plan after
bumpy West Coast trek
Billy Godwin didn’t make the connection between
East Carolina's Spring Break and the baseball team’s California road trip
before the season started.
But now that the Pirates have returned with jet
lag and a need to refocus and refresh, Godwin sees the two pieces of the
schedule fitting like a hand in a glove.
“I didn’t realize it when we first scheduled the
trip, but it was good,” he said. “I think they were able to get back
yesterday and get some rest, and we got back out here this morning to kind
of go after business.”
On Tuesday, the Diamond Bucs were scheduled to
begin practice at 9 a.m., and then they were interrupted by a rain delay.
They finished the workout at 3 p.m., ending almost a full day of practice
that never would have been possible on a regular school day.
“We’re taking our time a little bit more,” said
senior first baseman Adam Witter. “It doesn’t need to be crammed into two
and a half hours. We can elaborate on the areas we need extra work on.”
Certainly getting swept by Cal State-Fullerton
tarnished the shine of the early part of the season, which saw the Pirates
going 12-3 in a stretch of 15 home games before the West Coast trip. But
even in his first season at the ECU helm, Godwin is able to take such a
valley in stride, and he encouraged the players at the opening of Tuesday’s
“I basically said that I’m not pushing any panic
buttons, that we’ve got to stay the task,” he said. “It’s a long season,
it’s a marathon, and we’ve got to come back out and have a good approach in
practice and go back to the things that have been successful up until this
In fact, even with the extra blemishes the
Fullerton defeats put on their record, the players hope to look back on the
trip as a crucial step in their development as a national-caliber team. The
younger players, especially, have already had the equivalent of five road
trips with a cross-country trek against the 2004 national champions.
“It definitely turned some of our younger guys
into veterans,” Witter said.
In just two weeks the Pirates will take their
second major road trip — this time to the home stadium of 2003 national
champion Rice University. It’s a stretch of the schedule that can only
strengthen the team that is vying for its eighth straight trip to the NCAA
regionals, Godwin said.
“It’s awesome,” Godwin said. “For us to be able
to go out there and play a caliber team like Fullerton and then go to Rice,
it’s a similar type test. It’s an awesome experience for our players.”
With Conference USA play originating with that
Rice series, the Pirates hope that the Houston trip will stand out as a peak
in this season and a spark for the team as they look toward their perennial
goal in Nebraska.
“Hopefully, we’ll step up to our game and know
what it takes to get to Omaha,” said senior pitcher Brody Taylor.
Taylor, who missed all of last season due to an
arm injury, is slated as the starting pitcher for the Pirates’ next
challenge — tonight’s away game against UNC-Wilmington. The Pirates defeated
the Seahawks 11-2 on February 25 and will host them again next Wednesday.
The rivalry with UNCW never lacks intensity, but Taylor is just thankful for
a chance to get out there and try for his third win of the season, he said.
“I’m just happy to be back out on the mound and
to be able to pitch again,” he said.
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02/23/2007 01:12:53 AM