BYH Charlotte City Council for taking a stand against Trump's racist rhetoric. Maybe Greenville will condemn his...

Bolka improving in the outfield

1 of 2

Luke Bolka wears an East Carolina "department of defense" shirt for standout defense during practice on Feb. 9, 2017.


By Ronnie Woodward
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Luke Bolka is listed on East Carolina baseball's online roster exclusively as a left-handed pitcher, but he could see more playing time in the outfield this weekend against Mississippi than on the pitcher's mound.

Bolka is best known to Pirate fans for hitting a home run to help beat Houston in the 2015 American Athletic Conference tournament championship game, and all of the senior's 32 career starts have come at designated hitter mainly because of defensive limitations. His career has largely been defined by being a specialist in the batter’s box against left-handed pitchers.

Bolka is trying to shed the specialist tag and coach Cliff Godwin has lauded his improved defense. The senior could be in line for his first start in the outfield this weekend, especially with the recent injury to first baseman Bryce Harman causing some shifts in the projected lineup.

"I'm proud of Luke and very excited for a very productive season out of him," Godwin said. "He obviously provides a lot of right-handed power in our lineup."

The power has always been there, but the other aspects of his game have supposedly improved, and Godwin said that is in part because of Bolka's all-around focus.

"He's a different guy in the outfield and I think Bolka has matured," the Pirates' third-year coach said. "I think his off-the-field extracurricular activity has slowed down, which has allowed him to play better consistently. He's better on the mound and I think he's going to be able to help us out in some kind of role on the mound, too.

"I'm excited for Luke Bolka because I think if you ask him, he wish he probably would have done this a long time ago because he's been able to perform better."

Bolka is one of a handful of options for a starting corner outfield spot, and Godwin and the sixth-ranked Pirates are likely to use multiple combinations during the series against the Rebels in Oxford, Miss.

Andrew Henrickson, a Pitt Community College transfer, has been a defensive standout and won the starting spot in center field. Dwanya Williams-Sutton is the other player almost guaranteed to start and he is hoping for a big sophomore year after earning freshman All-American status, but he might not play only in left field.

Freshman Bryant Packard is in the outfield after mainly being an infielder at D.H. Conley High School, and T.J. Riles and Dusty Baker also are newcomers looking for playing time.

Flexibility by all players could be valuable, especially late in games when situational substitutions arise.

"Right field, I haven't played there since travel ball and that was maybe one tournament, so it's not comfortable to me," Williams-Sutton said early in the preseason. "But coach always says be comfortable being uncomfortable. So if he needs me there, I'm going to be ready to play."

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 or follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

Ingle on watch list

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Junior pitcher Joe Ingle was one of 60 players to be named to the initial watch list for the 13th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association stopper of the year award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

Ingle, a three-time watch list candidate, appeared in 32 games out of the bullpen as a sophomore and led the American Athletic Conference with 12 saves, which stood 23rd nationally. He tallied a career-high nine strikeouts against Maryland in the LeClair Classic and worked a career-best five innings in Game 2 of the NCAA Lubbock Super Regional, where he fanned six and allowed just one hit.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


July 18, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — In the lead spot to start at quarterback for American Athletic Conference preseason favorite UCF is senior Notre Dame transfer Brandon Winbush.

Veteran QBs at Memphis (Brady White) and South Florida (Blake Barnett) both were at Arizona State earlier in their careers. Barnett,…


July 18, 2019


East Carolina was picked fifth in the American Athletic Conference football East Division for the second straight year in the league preseason poll, but more important than the poll’s release Tuesday during AAC media days was the confident and persistent presence of ECU…


July 17, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Coach Mike Houston remains optimistic yet not in position to announce whether or not Traveon Freshwater will be on East Carolina football’s roster for this season.

The former Elizabeth City Northeastern High School star running back and linebacker signed with ECU in…


July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Mike Houston has been in this position before, bracing to prove doubters wrong.

It began with his first head coaching job in 2001 at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, when his team was picked in the preseason eighth out of nine teams but thrived during the season to take…

IMG_2422 (1).jpg

July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Standing in front of American Athletic Conference “Power Six” logos on Tuesday, conference commissioner Mike Aresco was persistent that he thinks the American is strong enough to not immediately replace Connecticut when the Huskies leave for the Big East.


IMG_2415 (1).jpg

July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — East Carolina athletics director Jon Gilbert found time to put on a swimsuit by mid-afternoon Monday, and ECU football coach Mike Houston sneaked in advice to Pirate receiver Deondre Farrier on the proper cracker-to-oyster ratio when Houston was between interviews at American…

IMG_2404 2 6.18.29 PM.jpg

July 15, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — East Carolina is at American Athletic Conference football media days, equipped with first-year coach Mike Houston, first-year athletics director Jon Gilbert and senior receiver Deondre Farrier in his first visit to Newport.

Aside from veteran media relations director Tom…

IMG_2388 2 (1).jpg

July 15, 2019

A trio of first-year American Athletic Conference football coaches, including East Carolina's Mike Houston, heads to Newport, R.I., today for a first taste of seafood, interviews and more at AAC media days.

The other two newcomers are Temple's Rod Carey and Dana Holgorsen after his offseason…


July 14, 2019

The Minges Coliseum court is in under renovation as East Carolina’s basketball coaches also are working to reconstruct their teams that will play this year on a new-look Minges paint scheme.

Fresh from checking out a recent workout of men’s coach Joe Dooley’s squad, which this…


July 13, 2019

Many East Carolina football fans know what Holton Ahlers will be doing in August and the ensuing months as the Pirates’ sophomore projected starting quarterback.

Others fans might have noticed the Greenville native was an ardent ECU baseball fan in June, but in July, he and other Pirate…

185 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 19
        Next Page»   Last Page»