WOODWARD: Reaching NCAAs remains key

1 of 2

East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin (23) and others watch from the home dugout during a game against Central Florida on April 14, 2017.


The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The graphic popped up multiple times during Sunday afternoon’s ESPNews broadcast of East Carolina vs. Houston in the American Athletic Conference baseball championship game as the Pirates were trying to complete a title run as the last and No. 8 seed in Clearwater, Fla.

It read that ECU has been to 28 NCAA tournaments but never to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series, which tops the list as the school with the most NCAA appearances without ever making the CWS.

Houston won and one day later, the Pirates were expectedly not included when the 64-team NCAA tournament field was announced.

As the Pirates transition away from a difficult and hard-to-explain season that featured unforeseen major injuries and bullpen issues but also nearly ended on a high note, it is important to understand the complexity of the balance in that graphic.

ECU’s program has been built on making regionals, not making it to Omaha because the latter has never happened. It is very difficult to make the College World Series and requires some luck, and there was some sense early in the season as the CWS being an expectation for East Carolina, which can be a dangerous situation.

The pressure only built as the season progressed, a national ranking went away and an 0-10 start in AAC play made it that the Pirates had to win the conference tournament to extend their season.

But it also was after then when a lot of the pressure was gone and the team played better and more relaxed. There was an eye on preparing for the AAC tourney.

The success in Clearwater, Fla., stemmed from that preparation and also because the nine seniors who have enjoyed plenty of postseason success likely knew what was at stake. That was a good sign for ECU and it showed an understanding that making regionals is at the heart of the program.

ECU is 2-for-3 in making the NCAA tournament under coach Cliff Godwin.

A big NCAA run last summer ended with a feeling of wanting more when the Pirates fell one hit away from Omaha. That brought about unprecedented hype and pressure for this year.

The end result was an empty feeling Monday, because East Carolina has a proud program that is set up to make regionals and that remains for the future. It just didn’t happen this year, even with ECU entering the season as a top-10 team.

Oregon State and North Carolina are the top two teams in the country this season. Neither made the NCAA field a year ago.

One very odd spring by the Pirates shouldn’t change their trajectory, and there’s no doubt that returning to the postseason and adding to the number of NCAA appearances is a focus moving forward. As that continues, the trip to Omaha eventually will take care of itself.

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


Humans of Greenville


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


July 16, 2018

CARY — The 16th annual Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview followed tradition Monday and turned into part comedy act by the five coaches involved and part serious football talk.

East Carolina third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and N.C. Central interim coach Granville Eastman were joined by Atlantic…

IMG_1538 (1).jpg

July 16, 2018

Speaking engagements and vacation time for college football coaches will turn into full preseason practices in less than a month, but for now there is still some balancing of obligations.

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator David Blackwell has worked on specific details with his players…


July 15, 2018

David Blackwell has coached college football at Pittsburgh and South Florida, which is located in Tampa.

He said it was easy to recognize that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL are kings in those cities.

He also is a former East Carolina football player and student…


July 14, 2018

The Cuba team put together an abundance on runs Saturday for a 15-4 victory over the visiting USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but USA still finished its summer with a 12-3 record and won all three of its international series.

The Americans featured East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin as…


July 12, 2018

The success of a profitable NCAA baseball regional held at Clark-LeClair Stadium in June and positive vibes from fans at recent Pirate Club armada events had officials optimistic at Thursday’s Athletics and Advancement Committee portion of the East Carolina Board of Trustees meeting, but the…

060218RegionalGame2-1.jpg (1).jpg

July 12, 2018

East Carolina standout and Greenville native Bryant Packard went 2-for-4 as the leadoff hitter in Game 1 for the USA Collegiate National Team in the USA vs. Cuba series in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday night.

Game 2 on Wednesday night saw ECU pitcher Jake Agnos throw four innings with three…


July 12, 2018

July is a big month for college football fans to soak up preseason hype in the form of magazines, predictions and projections of all kinds.

These things have not been kind already to East Carolina, which has posted consecutive 3-9 seasons under coach Scottie Montgomery.

The Phil Steele Preview…


July 11, 2018

A major “wow moment” happened for Blake Taylor before he even teed off last Thursday at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his PGA Tour debut.

It came Tuesday during a practice round for the East Carolina rising junior while playing with PGA veteran Jim Furyk.…


July 10, 2018

East Carolina men’s golf coach Andrew Sapp is the president of the Golf Coaches Association of America, and serving in that role put him in Avion, France, last week.

He was there for the Arnold Palmer Classic, which is a Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers, while current Pirate…

Greenbrier Golf

July 09, 2018

East Carolina football hit double-digits for the month of June alone in verbal commitments from recruits.

The significance of this is magnified with most of July as a recruiting dead period enforced by the NCAA, which also typically leads to coaching staff members across the country to use vacation…

198 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 20
        Next Page»   Last Page»