From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Non-conference snags tripped up Pirates

By Brian Bailey
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The Memorial Day holiday is usually a day of excitement and anticipation for the East Carolina baseball program.

Which regional would the Pirates be playing in? Who would be the other three teams that would battle ECU for the right to advance to the Super Regionals?

That’s the goal and the expectation of this program. Postseason play is almost taken for granted.

The Pirates fell short of that goal this season mainly because of problems in the mid-week games and a slow start in Conference USA play.

The squad made up for that second issue by winning six consecutive C-USA series to close out the season. Despite its 1-5 start in league play, ECU was one of several teams that had a shot at the Conference USA regular season title on the final weekend of the season.

The true downfall of this team was the lack of success in non-conference play. In a normal year, the Pirates would have used their non-conference slate to build their up the team’s RPI.

All of Conference USA had a similar problem. A league that prides itself in baseball had an off year from top to bottom. Rice and Southern Miss shared the league title, with the Owls winning the tournament. Rice and only Rice will represent Conference USA in the NCAA tournament.

So instead of preparing for NCAA play, the Pirates begin this week preparing for next year and a chance to return to the postseason.

“I told our seniors that I really wish we could go back,” said Pirate head coach Billy Godwin after the team beat Southern Miss to close out the Conference USA tournament. “But this isn’t a business where you can go back. We have to move forward.”

The Pirates will move forward with top pitcher Jeff Hoffman back in the fold in 2014. Of the juniors eligible for the draft, only Jack Reinheimer is expected to go early. The Pirate shortstop is projected as a third to fifth round selection. He will then have his own decision to make on whether or not to return next year.

Godwin will now enter the final year of his current contract with a new athletics director on board. Jeff Compher took over for Terry Holland on April 30th of this year.

Compher told media members at the Greater Greenville Sports Club on his first day in office that baseball would certainly be a priority.

“I will look at the entire body of work when evaluating any of our programs,” said Compher. “I know our baseball team has really played well down the stretch this year.”

Godwin’s overall body of work speaks for itself. In eight seasons he has guided the Pirates to five NCAA regional appearances and one NCAA Super Regional berth. His overall record is 284-188-1.

A trip to Omaha and the College World Series continues to be the goal. Godwin had hoped to be the first coach to deliver the Pirates to the Promised Land, but so far he’s only gotten his team to a Super Regional. That’s as far as any Pirate team has gotten.

Godwin has had a certain faction of Pirate fans against him since he was hired in 2005, replacing Randy Mazey. At that time, Godwin was first promoted as an interim head coach for the 2006 season. A nationwide search was to follow for a permanent replacement after that season.

That fall Godwin was awarded a contract and the ‘interim’ title was removed. That announcement came in the form a release through an email from ECU. It was a definite surprise to many.

There was no nationwide search for a new coach, which irked some within the Pirate Nation. Despite his success on the field, some in the Pirate Nation have held that decision against Godwin since day one.

Godwin found success early on. He became only the second Pirate coach to lead ECU to three straight 40-win seasons (Keith LeClair 1999-2002) when the Pirates finished 46-20 and won the Conference USA regular season title in 2009.

Expect Compher and Godwin to meet soon to evaluate the program.

One thing I know for sure is that no one wants to have success at East Carolina more than Billy Godwin.

Now Godwin and this entire program head to 2014 with something to prove and with a little chip on the shoulder after missing the post season.


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05/27/2013 08:25 PM