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ECU baseball gearing toward preseason

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East Carolina's Bryant Packard takes a swing during a game against Tulane in Greenville on April 28, 2017.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 12, 2018

East Carolina baseball is on track to get a few key players back to full health soon, while the offseason also recently saw the exit of a potentially promising freshman.

Catcher Spencer Smith, who was drafted last year in the 37th round by the Texas Rangers out of Northern Durham High School but was injured during the fall at ECU, has left the team.

The recent good news for the Pirates is that third basemen Connor Litton and Collin Watt are close to returning to full status, and outfielder Bryant Packard is not far behind them. Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said Thursday morning that those players, who were also limited during the fall because of injuries, are progressing toward all being at full strength later this month for preseason practice.

Litton or Watt is likely to start at third base when the season begins Feb. 16.

ECU continued offseason workouts this week, culminating with some pitchers scheduled to throw bullpen sessions at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday. The first official team practice is set for Jan. 26, so until then coaches will mainly work with players individually and in groups.

“They’ve been throwing, but the main thing is to get them together as a group and get them moving around,” Godwin said. “It’s kind of like a shorter version of (Major League Baseball) spring training in my opinion. You are lifting weights and conditioning and hitting and throwing and taking ground balls for really the nuts and bolts of everything that it takes to play baseball, but just not team defense or team-oriented stuff.”

With Smith out of the mix, ECU will do like it mainly did in the fall and lean on sophomore Jake Washer and freshman Seth Caddell behind the plate. The pair will be working with a pitching staff that is expected to be a team strength and led by Trey Benton and Jake Agnos, who both received valuable experience a year ago as rookies.

Activity between pitchers and catchers is picking up at Clark-LeClair, but the schedule for January also calls for team meetings and other focuses away from the baseball field. With football still very much in the national sports discussion, Godwin has even implemented some of that into talks with his team.

“We talk about Alabama football and the (New England) Patriots a lot, because I just really appreciate the way coach (Nick) Saban and (Bill) Belichick go about their business,” Godwin said. “I’m not saying you have to love those guys, but at the end of the day, the reason they are so consistent is because of the processes they have in place.”

The Pirates are looking to bounce back after they had great expectations for last season but ultimately didn’t make the NCAA tournament, which was a first during Godwin’s three seasons. ECU was recently picked fourth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll.

Godwin said most polls are based around the previous season’s results, so he isn’t too worried about rankings at the moment.

“I’m sure a lot of people think we won’t be very good this year, but this is the most excited I’ve been about a group and the way they go about their business each day,” he said.

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

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

ECU

September 22, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. — In many ways it was a banner night for the East Carolina football defense Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

A grind-it-out game ended as a 20-13 win for host South Florida, however, thanks to a few big plays.

Jordan Cronkrite delivered the crushing blow, dashing through…

E Carolina South Florida Football

September 22, 2018

This ran in The Daily Reflector’s Pirate Gameday section Saturday morning to help preview East Carolina’s American Athletic Conference football opener at South Florida, which is 3-0 and sits just outside the Associated Press Top 25 rankings. 

The game starts at 8 p.m. on ESPNews.…

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September 22, 2018

It has been two weeks since East Carolina has played a football game, and the Pirates spent most of those days in Orlando, Fla., to avoid the direct impact of Hurricane Florence.

They left Orlando for Tampa on Friday and, similar to two weeks ago against North Carolina from the Atlantic Coast…

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September 22, 2018

Q: You had 90 receiving yards and a touchdown against North Carolina on Sept. 8, earning the game ball after the Pirates’ 41-19 win. What did you do with the ball?

A: I’m giving it to my son (5-year-old Quey), and it’s unbelievable just to be able to say that I can give that to my…

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September 21, 2018

Raymond James Stadium is set to host two primetime football games in the coming days, beginning Saturday when East Carolina plays at 3-0 South Florida at 8 p.m.

USF stages its home games at the stadium in Tampa more known as the venue for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League.…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

September 20, 2018

Basketball schedules released by East Carolina and the American Athletic Conference this week have East Carolina hosting three men’s-women’s doubleheaders in Minges Coliseum, including two to begin the season.

ECU’s women, who went 16-15 last year for their first winning record…

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September 19, 2018

East Carolina could benefit from touchbacks and fair catches in Saturday night’s football matchup at South Florida.

USF freshman Terrence Horne raced to two kickoff return touchdowns already in a win against Georgia Tech on Sept. 8 to make him the only player in the country this year with…

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September 19, 2018

Joe Dooley’s second stint as East Carolina’s basketball coach will begin Nov. 6 with a home against Delaware State, which is part of the Pirates playing seven games in Minges Coliseum in November and 18 total for the 2018-19 season.

ECU released its schedule Wednesday afternoon and it…

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September 19, 2018

Temple made a big jump in the American Athletic Conference football beat writer rankings, and East Carolina also moved up a spot to eighth this week.

The Sunshine State occupies the top two spots, led again by steady Central Florida. South Florida takes over second place, has a 3-0 record and hosts…

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September 18, 2018

East Carolina’s football team had a rare opportunity to be unified and fully concentrated on watching South Florida play at Illinois last Saturday, a game that ended with the Bulls rallying for 18 points in the fourth quarter for a 25-19 win and 3-0 start to their season.

ECU sought safe…

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