Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Road Beating in More Ways than One
Back Home for the
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
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
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
Pirate Baseball Opens
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
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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