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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports


From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, July 3, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


Omaha factor weighed heavily in decision


Both Kevin McMullan and Randy Mazey have outstanding coaching credentials.

In talking with East Carolina athletic director Mike Hamrick, the only real difference seemed to be one word: “Omaha.”

Mazey has been there, most recently after Tennessee beat East Carolina in that NCAA Super Regional in the 2001 season. McMullan will get there.

I say it was a tough choice, taking Mazey over Coach Mac.

ECU influences “other” job

My other full-time job is as the head coach and general manager of an elite, 14-and-under, fast-pitch softball team. My daughter plays first base for the squad, which travels on weekends during the summer to play some of the best competition we can find.

I’m proud to say that the Carolina Diamonds started from scratch. We are 140-63 over the last four seasons, including a mark of 26-6 this year.

I have often talked with Keith LeClair in the past about different aspects of the game. In some ways, baseball and fast-pitch softball are very similar.

I’ve written before how he would get on me about getting thrown out of a game after arguing a call. I promised that I would to better this year, and I have kept that promise to date.

Two weeks ago our team was playing in a big tournament in Raleigh. We were undefeated going into Sunday’s play, but we had to face a team in the semifinals that had our number so far this season.

I had tried different speeches to try and fire up my players. From the rah-rah, to the relaxed, I just could never find the right mix that I felt would get them ready.

Finally, though, I went back to former Pirate football coach Bill Lewis. Back in 1991, WNCT-TV had the rights to the coaches shows, and Lewis loved to get in front of his team and the camera to get them fired up.

So just like Lewis did in 1991, I faced my squad of 14 year old girls and let them have it.

“All you have to do is put a smile on your face, and give it everything you’ve got,” I said. “Leave it on the field, but get a smile on your face and enjoy this game.”

We won the semifinal, and then won the championship game that afternoon.

I knew, though, that there were other ‘reasons’ that we were playing well.
On my way back to the hotel that Saturday night, there was a car tagged on the side of I-40. The red number was “23”.

As I filled out my starting line-up on Sunday, I paused as I noticed the date.
We won on the 23rd.

As I accepted the championship trophy, I spoke to the crowd for a minute about Keith LeClair’s brave fight, about how it put everything so much into prospective.

Then I paused again — because I know that Number 23 would have been proud of my team.

— Brian Bailey —  

Perhaps it was fitting that Hamrick started Mazey’s introduction praising Keith LeClair’s staff from this past season.

“Our team did a great job this year and our coaches did a great job this year. Kevin, Tommy, George, Eddie did a wonderful job and I want to publicly thank them for the outstanding job they did on a great baseball season. We would be remiss if we didn’t thank them,” Hamrick said.

With that said, Hamrick went on to introduce his choice.

"I’m excited today to introduce an individual who will begin a new era in Pirate baseball; a program at East Carolina University that is probably the most successful program that we have here. We conducted a national search, we sought the input of many top people in college and professional baseball. We kept coming back to one person. A person who had been a part of the ECU family, a person who had made an impact on the program while he was here.

"Coach LeClair gives Randy credit for bringing the players to ECU who really started the success we are having now. Randy is uniquely qualified. He has a great reputation as a recruiter, he has been a head coach, he’s proven that he can turn around a program that’s struggling a little bit, he’s been to Omaha twice — a characteristic that we were looking for in our next coach. Our goal is to get to Omaha, and I think he knows what it takes to do that."

Through a written statement, former Coach Keith LeClair gave his endorsement.

“Randy is an outstanding coach and will carry on the vision to go to Omaha,” said LeClair. “He had a big part in bringing the first recruiting class to Greenville that started our tradition. I feel the program will be in good hands.”

Mazey had great success with his only recruiting class at East Carolina in 1998. Among his “diamond gems” that season were Eric Bakich, Lee Delfino, Jason Mandryk, James Molinari, Nick Schnabel, and Chad Tracy.

Mazey is good friends with the former staff under Keith LeClair. He said he will talk with the staff and make his decisions on his coaching staff on what is best for the East Carolina baseball program.

Here’s hoping Mazey can work it out with Coach Mac, Tommy Eason and Eddie Losener about staying with the Pirate program. It may be the hardest for Mac, because he came so close to becoming a head coach.

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02/23/2007 01:22:31 AM

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