CLEARWATER, FL — Regular-season champion East Carolina starts play in the American Athletic Conference Tournament today (Tuesday) at 12:45 p.m. against eighth-seeded Memphis.
The Pirates are 38-13 overall and went 20-8 in league play. Memphis (17-37, 7-25) went 0-4 against ECU in Greenville on April 9-11 as the Pirates outscored the Tigers, 32-13.
ECU is ranked No. 11 nationally by Division I baseball, but the edge in momentum coming into the league tournament may belong to Memphis.
The Pirates are coming off their only back-to-back losses of 2021 as they finished the regular season at South Florida while the Tigers avoided being swept at Wichita State with a 9-4 triumph on Saturday. Hunter Goodman hit two home runs, including a grand slam, in the regular season finale for Memphis.
ECU reaped an abundance of league honors announced Monday, which could serve to put an even bigger target on the Pirates’ backs for the league event.
Cliff Godwin of ECU was named Coach of the Year for the third time. Sophomore second baseman Connor Norby was named Player of the Year and junior right-hander Gavin Williams was named Pitcher of the Year.
Norby is hitting .420 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in the leadoff spot. Williams is 9-0 with a 1.48 earned run average.
True freshman designated hitter Josh Moyland joined Norby and Williams as a first team All-AAC selection after hitting .329 with five homers and 32 RBIs. The Pirates put senior right-hander Cam Colmore (6-1, 1.74), sophomore first baseman Thomas Francisco (.375, 10 HRs, 39 RBIs), freshman Zach Agnos (.264, 6 HRs, 37 RBIs) and junior outfielder Bryson Worrell (.271. 7 HRs, 27 RBIs) on the American second team.
Williams has been the series-opening starter for the Pirates but Godwin may reserve him for later in the league tournament.
The Memphis-ECU winner will match up against the Central Florida-Cincinnati winner on Thursday at 3 p.m. The Bearcats (29-24, 18-14) and Knights (28-28, 18-14) start the tournament at 9 a.m. today.
The Pirates will have to buck some history if they are to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume.
The last time the AAC Tournament was played in 2019, ECU was the No. 1 seed but was knocked out by a pair of losses to Wichita State.
The Pirates defeated former AAC member Connecticut , 4-3, for the AAC Tournament title in 2018.