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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Monday, May 22, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Pirates enter tourney with backs against the wall


7:00-9:00 a.m.

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East Carolina took it on the chin in its final conference baseball series, getting swept by Memphis in a Thursday through Saturday three-game set.

Short of winning the Conference USA tournament this week in Houston, it appears the Pirates will not get seeded in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Let the second guessing begin. Baseball has seemed to be the one sport ECU has hung its hat on in recent years. That the Pirates are on the outside looking in as we approach the postseason is not the expectation for this program.

Success in baseball, particularly since the late 'nineties, has come to be taken for granted by Pirate fans and supporters, especially with the investment in the program, including a brand new state of the art stadium.

However, before the inevitable screams that “the sky is falling,” it should be noted that Billy Godwin took over a team in turmoil. In addition, losses from last year's NCAA contender included attrition from graduation and at least one key transfer.

Supporting Godwin in a rebuilding state will be important to stabilize the program in the wake of a disappointing finish. Godwin deserves a unified support system.

This season’s team lacked power hitting and consistent bullpen help. Recruiting to those needs will be on Godwin’s list as soon as the season ends, quite possibly in less than a week.

It is also important to remember that while C-USA lost some key football and basketball members, it was strengthened in baseball with the addition of Rice and Central Florida.

While UCF failed to impress in its inaugural season (23-32, 5-18 C-USA), Rice announced its presence with authority, as expected.

The Owls finished league play this weekend with a 22-2 record. The Pirates were fortunate enough to be one of two teams in the league to get a win over the Owls back on March 24th. Their other loss was to cross-town rival Houston.

Rice, the host team, enters the C-USA tourney this week as the favorite with a 46-10 record. The Owls have won 28 of their last 30 games.

East Carolina (32-24, 10-14) will play in the first game of the league tournament on Wednesday morning against Tulane (39-17, 15-9) at 10 a.m. (eastern time). The Pirates are the sixth seed while the Green Wave earned the third seeding.

Other games on Wednesday include seventh-seeded Marshall versus second-seeded Houston, eighth-seeded UAB versus No. 1 seed Rice and fifth-seeded Southern Miss versus fourth-seeded Memphis.

All games will be played in Reckling Park on the campus of the Rice University. ECU's games will be broadcast on radio on the Pirate Sports Network.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:02 PM.

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