Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Friday, May 16, 2008

By Bethany Bradsher

Pirates' youth movement thriving

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

When a freshman suits up and takes the field for the first time on a Division I team, he brings along a boatload of emotions: excitement, uncertainty, hope and fear, often with an extra dose of the last one.

Emotion has its place in athletic competition, and no coach wants an athlete who operates automatically. But East Carolina baseball coach Billy Godwin has found that, when it comes to his freshmen, the best prepared are the ones who can keep their feelings in check.

“Those guys have a high skill level, a high feel for the game, and they have tremendous poise,” Godwin said of the first-year players who have excelled this season. “They’ve just been outstanding.”

A handful of freshmen — Seth Maness, Dustin Harrington, Brad Mincey, Seth Simmons, Sthil Sowers, Trent Whitehead — have been employing Godwin’s “grace under pressure” tactic with great success this year.

Here’s a sampling of newcomer highlights from the past few weeks:

  • Maness was one of two Pirate hurlers (with junior Justin Bristow) to be named to the watch list for the Roger Clemens Award, given annually to the top pitcher in the collegiate ranks. With his 9-1 record, Maness leads the ECU pitching staff with a 3.11 ERA and 67 strikeouts. His most recent victory came Thursday night at Memphis, where he struck out eight batters and allowed just one run in ECU’s 8-1 victory over the Tigers.

    With his win against Presbyterian College on April 25, Maness became the first freshman in ECU's history to start a season at 7-0, and he is one of only two pitchers in Conference USA — along with Tulane’s Shooter Hunt — with nine wins.

    A native of Pinehurst, Maness was drawn to East Carolina by the team values, the coaching and the facilities. The most abrupt part of his initiation was the power and accuracy of top Division I hitters. It quickly became clear to Maness that the style of pitching that allowed him to dominate the competition at Pinecrest High School had shortcomings at the major college level. He made adjustments, and opposing hitters are much less intimidating now.

    “It was a big jump from high school,” said Maness, who was also honored as the Pitcher of the Year recently by the fans in The Jungle. “I used to get away with a lot of pitches that I can‘t get away with now. You go out there, and you learn. I feel like I‘ve learned a lot more than I did when I was in high school. I was probably more of a thrower in high school, and now I‘m more of a pitcher.”

  • In Thursday’s Memphis victory, Dustin Harrington extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games with a hit and went 3-for-4 with two RBI's.
    Harrington, who played at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, has earned his way into the starting lineup this year, playing shortstop and batting .309 with 55 hits and 30 runs. His most vivid memory of last fall, when he was trying to adjust to a new level of pitching and adapting to college life in general, was the 4 a.m. running and weights workouts during the off season. Those tough workouts were the “you’re not in high school anymore” moment for Harrington, and he set about reinventing himself as a player.

    “The coaches just told me to come out here and play hard,” he said. “I had seniors in front of me. So I came out and played hard, and I guess it just went my way. I was very nervous at the beginning of the year. You’re seeing pitchers throwing 90, 90-plus every weekend.”

  • Several other new pitchers were instrumental in ECU’s Tuesday night win over UNC-Wilmington. Simmons (Lewisville Calvary Baptist), who has made 24 appearances in relief, picked up his second save and was joined in the mound rotation that night by Brad Mincey (New Hanover) and six upperclassmen pitchers.

  • Sowers (North Lenoir), 4-3, has started eight games and, after throwing the first complete game of his career against UNCW in April, was voted C-USA Pitcher of the week. The freshman gave up just six hits and held the Seahawks scoreless through 8.2 innings until giving up a solo home run in the ninth inning. Sowers did not walk a batter, fanned five and did not allow a runner past second until that one home run.

Of course, every Pirate player is coached to take one game at a time and not to jump ahead of the task at hand, but these freshmen can’t help but anticipate the potential challenges of the postseason. They may be the youngest, but they know they can also be difference-makers and meet tough opponents with, well, poise.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

05/16/2008 02:39:43 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.