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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

By Brian Bailey

Kee's champs primed for College Park

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Make it back to back titles for the East Carolina softball program. ECU entered this past week’s Conference USA tournament at home as the 5th seed, but emerged with three straight wins and an automatic NCAA regional bid.

If you didn’t get the chance to watch any of the games last week at the new ECU Softball Stadium, you missed out on a real treat.

The Pirates played outstanding softball for three straight days. The play was almost as good as the stadium that hosted the event. The softball was outstanding, and it was played in one of the nation’s top facilities.

“We got so many positive comments about our stadium,” said ECU coach Tracey Kee. “And I really think the crowd that was in the stadium helped us win this championship.”

Friday’s game was the best of the weekend, when ECU slipped past top seed Houston 1-0.

Pirate ace Toni Paisley picked up all three wins in the tournament and was especially tough in that 1-0 game on Friday. She’ll next take the ball in the circle on Friday night in College Park.

“I’m excited,” said Paisley. “I don’t think anyone in the room was expecting us to go where we are going. We’ve been there before so I think we are ready.”

The Pirates have faced Maryland three times this season. ECU fell to the Terrapins 3-1 in Athens, GA, Feb. 13, and split a doubleheader on the road with the Terrapins on March 9th. In that double dip the Pirates won the opener 3-2 and lost in the nightcap 4-2.

No. 11 national seed Baylor and Lehigh are the other teams in the College Park Regional. ECU beat Lehigh 8-0 in six innings back in the Pirate Clash in Greenville on Feb. 26. The Pirates have never played Baylor.

“I like it,” said Coach Kee when asked about the bracket on Sunday night. “I like the fact that we’ve already played at the University of Maryland this year. I like the fact we’ve played them three times already as well as Lehigh. We don’t know much about Baylor, but we know they are a quality program. We’ve got a good one to work with.”

Baylor takes on Lehigh to open the double elimination regional on Friday at 5 p.m. East Carolina then takes on Maryland in the 7:30 game.

Exceptional players 'Safe' in the hands of Pirates

View ECBL Photo Gallery at Bottom of Article

The East Carolina baseball team once again hosted the Exceptional Community Baseball League on Sunday after completing its three-game sweep of Delaware State.

The ECBL is made up of players with special needs. Games are normally played on Saturdays at the Sarah Vaughn Field of Dreams at Elm Street Park. Once a year the players get to play on the “big stage” at Clark-LeClair Stadium as guests of the Pirates.

“I’ve said this every year, but this is really our best game of the year,” said Pirate coach Billy Godwin.

Godwin’s squad served as “buddies” to the ECBL players, helping them with hitting, fielding and running the bases.

The Pirates really deserve a pat on the back for not only hosting the event, but for embracing it over the years.

ECU first baseman John Wooten remembered his experience with young Antwan Murphy from last season. Wooten found his young friend before the game started and stuck with him for the entire game.

Several of the Pirate players gathered at home plate after each hit, encouraging the runner from third to slide in at home plate. Many of the players did just that, as the Pirates yelled out, “Safe!”

Mother Nature almost wrecked the party after a thunderstorm moved through about 3:30 p.m., just after ECU’s 6-1 win over Delaware State.

The clouds moved out and the sun came out for the exhibition game.

The clouds returned after the game. It makes you wonder if the man upstairs was making sure that a day that meant so much to so many went off without a delay.

It is always a special day for both the ECBL players and the Pirates.

Image Gallery: ECU's Exceptional Guests

East Carolina's baseball team hosted the players of the Exceptional Community
Baseball League at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Sunday. (Photos: Brian Bailey)


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

05/23/2011 04:40 AM


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