East Carolina’s baseball team suffered through the squad’s sixth weekend sweep of the season in Tampa against South Florida over the weekend.
For those scoring at home, that’s Ole Miss, Mercer, UConn, Houston, Central Florida and USF. That’s 18 of the club’s 24 losses to date. The Pirates stand at 24-24 overall and 4-14 in the American Athletic Conference.
ECU now has a five-game home stand, with games against Duke, Memphis (three-game series) and Campbell, and then closes the regular season on the road at Connecticut.
Hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament started to evaporate a couple of weeks ago, but at that time there was still hope.
The golden ticket into baseball’s postseason is now the AAC tournament in Clearwater, FL, in late May.
Pirate Coach Cliff Godwin has until then to get his team back to its winning form.
This is a talented baseball team that just isn’t winning games.
Godwin has called out his team’s toughness on several occasions. The players have reiterated that theme.
More than toughness, it’s a belief that something good is going to happen, rather than something bad.
In several of the close losses you could almost get a feel that something bad was about to happen. A key error, a play that should have been made, a risk without a reward, seemed to turn the tide.
The Pirates are down to eight games to try and right the ship and make for a long run in the American tournament.
Clearwater has seen both sides of the Pirate personality. In 2015, Cliff Godwin’s team won the championship in his first year.
In year two, as one of the favorites to win the tournament, ECU dropped its first two games and came home.
Once home, the Pirates put their nose to the grindstone, concentrating on toughness before hitting the road to Charlottesville and the NCAA regionals.
That’s where the fun began as ECU upset defending national champion Virginia and won the regional.
The postseason run also included the team’s first ever NCAA Super Regional victory at Texas Tech.
The point is that this team has rallied before, in its darkest hour, and turned its season around.
That’s the goal this year. Sure, this is a much different circumstance. This hasn’t been a two-game blip on the radar in the American tournament.
This has been a season of letdowns.
The key injuries to Evan Kruczynski and Dwanya Williams-Sutton got the ball rolling. Losing Chris Holba certainly hurt. The dismissal of closer Joe Ingle added to the frustrations.
It’s very difficult for teams to turn it on and off like a light switch. Good teams find ways to win. These Pirates have been the opposite, so far.
As long as there are still games to play, there is hope.
That hope now comes in Clearwater later this month. A season of disappointments can be lifted with a winning week in the tournament.
It has happened before for Cliff Godwin and his Pirates. This team is too good not to make some noise in the tournament.