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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Godwin & Co. start with stiff challenge

Billy Godwin
(ECU Media Relations photo)


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Brian BaileyReplay Monday night's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW. Brian's guest was ECU associate head baseball coach and pitching coach Dan Roszel. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night from 6:30-7:30 on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
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By Brian Bailey
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This week, with alluring glimpses of spring popping in and out of view, the man in blue will say those magical words to fans of America's pastime. The first “Play Ball!” of the season comes this Friday as East Carolina opens the 2013 college baseball season.

The road to Omaha opens in Greenville with perennial Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia coming to town for a three-game series. The Virginia baseball team is ranked No. 25 in the preseason edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll while the Pirates are unranked.

UVa returns 19 letterwinners from its 2012 squad. That team finished 39-19-1 and hosted an NCAA Regional, which was the program's ninth-consecutive NCAA tournament bid. The Cavaliers return six position starters, including 2012 Freshman All-America outfielder Derek Fisher and two-year starting first baseman Jared King.

ECU Coach Billy Godwin says playing a nationally-ranked opponent like Virginia helps in many aspects of the game.

“Guys look forward to the opening weekend all year long,” said Godwin. “They know and we know that we have to open the season playing a high level because of the competition. I think it certainly helps with the attention to detail as we prepare.”

The series with Virginia will give Godwin and his staff an early barometer for 2013.

“It’s a great series,” Godwin said. “It will give us an early reading on what we have to improve on. It will also tell us early the things that we are doing well.”

The pitching rotation is set for the weekend. Jeff Hoffman will get the nod on Friday afternoon in the opener. Hoffman was 3-2 last season with a 3.67 ERA. He appeared in 19 games and made 10 starts in his freshman campaign.

“Jeff has earned the opening day start,” said ECU pitching Coach Dan Roszel. “All of our weekend starters for Virginia have earned this chance. It’s up to them to hold on to these slots because we’ve got some young guys that will continue to push them.”

Hoffman knew he would be counted on heavily this season.

“I’ve known that Coach Roszel and Coach Godwin had a lot of trust in me,” said Hoffman, whose fastball has been clocked in the mid 90’s at times. “Last year when they threw me out there so many times, I got the feeling that this year I would have a pretty big role.”

Junior college transfer Ryan Williams will start Saturday’s game, while the Pirates will go with Andy Smithmyer on Sunday.

The Pirates have more depth this season and appear to have upgraded the talent in several slots. Coach Godwin says he'll be playing close attention to how the inexperienced players deal with actual game conditions.

“My biggest concern is how the young guys react,” explained Godwin. “We return several guys who played every day, but we also have some talented newcomers on board. They just have to stay within themselves and not try to do too much.”

The extended forecast looks for a great day Friday with sunshine and 60-degree temperatures. Saturday looks okay, but then bad weather may come into play late Saturday and into Sunday, which could alter the schedule.

Regardless, baseball is back at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Virginia is on the clock.


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02/12/2013 03:12 AM


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