Sophomore right-hander Trey Benton is scheduled to throw the first pitch of the 2018 baseball season for East Carolina at 4 p.m. today as the Pirates start a three-game series with Western Carolina at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Benton compiled a 3-4 record with a 4.18 earned run average as ECU went 32-28 overall in 2017 and finished second to Houston in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Benton had 74 strikeouts in 71 innings pitched.
Sophomore left-hander Jake Agnos (3-3, 3.22) is scheduled to start against the Catamounts on Saturday at 2 p.m. although the game time is subject to change due to the weather.
Junior right-hander Chris Holba (4-2, 3.38) is slated to start a Sunday game at 1 p.m. if the schedule is not revised.
The Pirates were 7-17 in league play last year and are picked fourth in the AAC in voting by the league’s nine head coaches. That is a contrast to last season when ECU was picked as high as No. 6 nationally before being swept in three competitive contests to start the season at Ole Miss.
The Pirates did not make the NCAA Tournament in 2017 after winning one game in a Super Regional at Texas Tech in 2016.
ECU leads the series with the Catamounts, 16-2.
A former academic All-American for the Pirates, Cliff Godwin is entering his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater.
Godwin was recently named third base coach for the Collegiate National Team, which will meet teams from China and Japan this summer in Cary before traveling to Cuba. LSU coach Paul Mainieri is head coach of the Collegiate National Team. Godwin was an assistant on Mainieri’s staff at Notre Dame.
The Pirates have 20 lettermen returning, including 2016 freshman All-American Dwanya Williams-Sutton, 2017 freshman All-American Spencer Brickhouse and shortstop Turner Brown.
Williams-Sutton hit .286 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs last year but missed roughly half the season with injuries.
Brickhouse had a .310 average with 10 homers and 28 RBIs. Brown hit .263 with two homers and 31 RBIs.
A highly-regarded recruiting class includes infielders Connor Litton and Collin Watt as well as outfielders Chandler Jenkins, Josh Netterville and Jeremy Whitehead. Bryson Worrell is an incoming utility player. Alec Burleson is a two-way player. New pitchers include Zach Barnes, Cole Beavin, Austin Covers, Noah Jones, Jake Kuchmaner, Willy Strong and Gavin Williams. Catchers who have joined the program are Seth Caddell and Spencer Smith.
ECU’s tradition includes the 1961 NAIA championship, 13 regular-season conference titles, 11 conference tournament championships, 28 NCAA Tournament appearances and four trips to Super Regionals.
This will be the Pirates’ 83rd season of baseball.