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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Pirates' full focus is on Tar Heels

By Brian Bailey
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ECU Baseball Schedule
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East Carolina completed an expected sweep of Savannah State this weekend and now the Pirates have sights set on tonight's game at North Carolina.

The Heels are ranked as high as fourth in the polls. East Carolina is ranked only in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, at number 25.

The Pirates did a lot of good things this weekend against an outmanned Tigers team. Most notably, according to Pirate coach Billy Godwin, was ECU's defense.

“Probably the thing I was most impressed with is that we played three games and we didn’t make an error,” said Godwin after Sunday’s 14-5 victory. “This team has played good defense all year and we turned some tough double plays today. That’s the sign of a good club, consistency across the board. You come in and you don’t kick the ball around at all.”

The Pirates also took turns banging the ball around the park at Clark-LeClair. In the 4-0 week, the team hit .374 with eleven home runs, 43 runs scored, and 11 doubles. ECU collected 24 walks and its hitters struck out just eight times in four games.

The Pirates have found another long ball threat in freshman Kyle Roller. Roller hit .455 this past week, with three home runs, a triple, seven runs and six RBI’s. He was walked eight times for a grand total of 16 total bases. His rocket shot on Wednesday night against Old Dominion was a true blast. Rumor is that Steve Shankweiler found the ball in one of the blocking sleds the next day.

Ryan Tousley hit a couple of homers on Sunday to raise his season total to 10. I didn’t think any Pirate would hit 15 homers this season, but Tousley is the Conference USA leader and is halfway home to 20. Tousley certainly has all conference type stats with 10 home runs, 44 RBI’s, 27 runs and 87 total bases.

Tousley understands the importance of tonight’s game with the Tar Heels.

“It’s a big game,” said Tousley. “I hear it’s a tough place to play. I know they had a tough series in Tallahassee (losing two out of three to Florida State). It should be a good game.”

Stephen Batts agrees.

“It’s a big game," said Batts. "But we’ve played lots of big games and we’ll take a lot of confidence to Carolina. We’ve beaten big teams so we’re used to this kind of pressure.”

For second year Pirate coach Billy Godwin, the game has added meaning because of his relationship with Tar Heel coach Mike Fox.

“It’s kind of special for me,” said Godwin. “It’s my first time at UNC against Coach Fox, who was a mentor for me. It will have special meaning because Coach Fox meant so much to me in my coaching career."

Fox was in Greenville back in January as the guest speaker for the Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove League. Fox spoke very highly of Godwin and his staff at East Carolina.

With that being said, this is still East Carolina against North Carolina on the diamond. After two losses this season to N.C. State, you get the feeling that this is a Pirate team that really wants to make some noise against the Tar Heels.

“I don’t think there is any added pressure,” said Godwin. “I think our guys will look forward to it. I promise you I won’t have to give them a big pep talk. The game will be special for them.”

Adam Warren from New Bern will start for North Carolina. Warren is 7-0 on the season with a 2.13 ERA. The Pirates will counter with Mike Anderson, who is 1-0 with a .90 ERA.

The Tar Heels return the game in Greenville on May 9th.

Midweek games are a different animal. Conference games are more important in the long run, but a shot at a rival that’s ranked in the Top Ten is also a very important opportunity!


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04/21/2008 07:06:08 PM


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