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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


ECU Endured Road Beating in More Ways than One


Back Home for the Pirate Hoopsters

The season is starting to wear on Bill Herrion.

Sure, the smile is there. He still blurts out those quick-witted comments. But right now, the travel and the losing are catching up with the East Carolina hoops coach.

“You need to go to see just how brutal of a trip it was,” Herrion told me yesterday. “You just can’t get an idea about life on the road until you actually make the trips.”

On the trip back from Chicago, the bus didn’t show up to bring the team back from Raleigh to Greenville. The team didn’t make it back into town until almost dawn.

No charter, and now, no ground transportation. If this program wants to play with the big boys, they’ll have to spend money like the big boys. Either that, or pack it up and head back to the CAA!

“It’s really been a challenge,” said Herrion. “But I really think this team can make the postseason tournament in Conference USA. It may come down to which team wants it more.”

Southern Miss and East Carolina match 2-9 league records later tonight. If the season ended Sunday, then these two teams would both be sitting out tournament week.

The winner, though, improves its odds of finishing in the top twelve positions.

“I know that our guys will play hard,” said Herrion. “This time of the year some teams wear down and get tired. We are thin in some areas, but the guys have had great attitudes and they are working hard.”

The Pirates best chances for league wins are tonight and then on March 2, when ECU visits Texas Christian.

Marquette will present a very difficult challenge for the Pirates, but it is a home game. Also, the Pirates will host Houston later in February.

We all knew that C-USA victories would be hard to come by. The Pirates, though, need a couple of more league victories to make the postseason tournament in their first year of play in the league.

First to 20 Wins: The Corrected Version

Conference USA is the first league to have three teams win 20 games this season. Last week, I inadvertently included Charlotte in that list. The three teams from the league with 20 wins this season are Cincinnati (22-2), Marquette (21-3) and Memphis (20-5).

Pirate Baseball Opens Friday

East Carolina Assistant Baseball Coach Tommy Eason was my guest on the radio on Monday night. Coach Eason told our audience that the preseason is nice, but that this team needs to play a real game.

Pirate Coach Keith LeClair, fighting off health problems, has made most of the practices and will start the season calling the shots from the dugout.

“As assistant coaches, we are all trying to do the little extras that need to get done in this situation,” explained Eason. “Our roles on game day have changed somewhat, because Coach LeClair has given us extra authority on some aspects of the game.”

Eason says LeClair's faith and spirit have really made an impact on this Pirate baseball team.

“He is really amazing,” said Eason. “He is always upbeat, always teaching, always helping, even when he doesn’t have the energy. He has made us all appreciate each and every day that we have in life and in baseball.”

The Pirates open the season with a three-game home series against a very good Delaware ball club. It may only be mid-February, but it’s baseball season at East Carolina.

ECU hit a record 85 home runs last season. With the loss of Lee Delfino, Cliff Godwin, John Williamson, Joseph Hastings and Chad Tracy, only 22 of those home runs return in 2002.

This team won’t hit 85 home runs this season. It will run, and hit and run, and manufacture runs in many different ways.

This team will also pitch the ball well. Will Brinson and Sam Narron are both preseason All-America. The bullpen is deep, so pitching should not be a problem.

The Pirates are especially strong up the middle. Centerfielder Warren Gaspar returns, as does catcher Clayton McCullough. Jed Sorenson starts at second, while JUCO All-America Luke Cherry opens at shortstop.

One good play, and it’ll be “Cherry-picken” time at short for the Pirates.

Make plans now to skip out of work early Friday and catch the opener. The Pirates will be going for their fourth straight NCAA berth this season.

And the goal remains the same. This team that came so close to the College World Series last year hopes to finish the job this season.

Here’s hoping they can. Keith LeClair deserves the chance to take his program to Omaha.

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02/23/2007 01:22:09 AM

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