NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
By Bethany Bradsher
Fans' focus shifts to diamonds
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Just like the weather has been bouncing
frenetically between winter and spring, the Pirate Nation has also been in a
state of limbo lately. Just last week East Carolina baseball and softball
had started off strong, but the basketball teams were still competing and
moving toward the perennial hopefulness of their conference tournaments.
This week, those high hoops hopes have been
shelved for next year, with all of the postseason invitations distributed to
teams other than the Pirates. But the bright side of that closed chapter is
this: The weather has decided that it really is baseball and softball
season, and those teams are ready to prove that they deserve the Pirate
Nation’s undivided attention.
Tuesday night was a perfect example of this
renewed focus, both in the weather and on the diamonds. At 5 p.m., as the
temperatures inched toward 80 degrees on a perfect spring day, both East
Carolina squads were doing their best to advance their team goals and do
what it takes to still be around when the postseason arrives.
In the short term, it wasn’t the kind of
sports night that energizes a Pirates fan. The Diamond Bucs
fell to Virginia Commonwealth 18-11
in the first start of pitcher Jake Harris in nearly a year. The Lady Pirates
went to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels for the first time in three years
and were defeated 4-2.
But just like many of the plants that will
soon brighten the spring are still tiny now, the bright spots for softball
and baseball are still seedlings with plenty of potential. A few of those
encouraging developments from the young 2012 season, by the numbers:
25 — The national ranking the baseball
team reached last week in the NCAA Basketball RPI standings. The
championship they won at the
DRASH Alabama Classic last weekend undoubtedly helped ECU inch into the
12 — The number of runs scored by the
Pirate softball team against Creighton on March 10 at the Diamond Devil
Invitational in Tempe, AZ. The game came near the end of the Pirates’
weeklong Western Spring Break tour to California and Arizona, and it
proved that their offensive strength is alive and well. Sophomore Kristi
Oshiro, an emerging star for ECU, hit a grand-slam for her first career
home run in the contest.
.636 — Sophomore Drew Reynolds’ batting
average last week, when over four games he hit a home run and 2 RBIs and
recorded multi-hit games in all three Pirate victories at the Alabama
5 — The number of home runs so far this
season by senior Suzanne Riggs, a D.H. Conley product who also has a
team-high 13 walks this season. Riggs turned in one of the Pirates’ two
runs against UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday night with a one-run shot, and
she seems locked in to the idea of putting together a memorable senior
4 — The number of consecutive home
baseball games in store for the Pirate Nation over the next week — a
three-game series against Penn State Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a
Tuesday night matchup with N.C. State that is sure to bring out the
Jungle faithful in droves.
In other parts of the state, brackets and fast
breaks still dominate, but in the East it’s the season to sit outside and
revel in double plays and rally caps. The thermometer confirms that it’s the
right time to focus on two teams with state-of-the-art stadiums and high
Conference USA schedules are just ahead, and
the Pirate Nation is dialed into the diamonds.
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03/14/2012 10:21 AM