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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
By Brian Bailey

Diamond Pirates primed for opener

By Brian Bailey
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Bailey: Diamond Pirates primed for opener

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It’s finally baseball week at East Carolina. The nationally-ranked Pirates hit the road this weekend to take on 2007 Super Regional participant South Carolina in Columbia.

South Carolina is ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls. The Gamecocks are 2nd in the Collegiate Baseball Poll, No. 3 in the ESPN-USA Today Coaches’ Poll, and 12th in the Baseball America rankings.

East Carolina is 24th in the Baseball America poll, but not included in the other two listings.

Pirate coach Billy Godwin says his team just wants to play someone in different color jerseys.

“If we go down and do the things we’re capable of doing, we’ll be very good,” said Godwin. “We’ve got some veteran guys who aren’t going to be intimidated in that environment. We’re just excited about playing a team in the other dugout.

"We’ve got all of the respect in the world for South Carolina, for sure.”

The Pirates wrapped up the preseason with another set of scrimmages at Clark-LeClair Stadium this past weekend.

The highlight of the weekend was Saturday’s announcement at “Meet the Pirates” that Drew Schieber was selected to wear the number 23 to honor former Pirate coach Keith LeClair.

Schieber was thrilled with the honor.

“To represent Coach LeClair and all that he stood for is just such a blessing for me and my family," siad Schieber. "Really, all these guys are equally deserving. The fact that the coaches chose me is such an honor, as he was such a great man.”

Originally, I really wanted to see the number 23 retired. I didn’t even think about the idea of letting one player wear the number each season. It was a truly gem of an idea, and it always means so much to so many to see that number 23 back on the field at East Carolina.

“In the back of my mind, I’ll always be thinking about why the Pirates are where they are,” Schieber continued. “It’s because of the testimony of a great man, the way he lived his life and all he did for the Pirates.”

Coach Godwin was pleased that Schieber was the choice.

“Certainly, the impact that Coach LeClair had on this program, it’s monumental,” said Godwin. “Drew Schieber, and we had several outstanding candidates, has so many similarities in what he does in what Coach LeClair’s vision was for this program.”

Godwin and company head to South Carolina with this rotation for the three games:

T.J. Hose with start on Friday afternoon. Hose has really been solid throughout the early practices.

Freshman Seth Maness will get the nod on Saturday. Sunday will feature Auburn transfer Justin Bristow.

Also from the Pirate camp, Trent Ashcraft is questionable for the opening series. Ashcraft made a great catch in one of the scrimmages this weekend, but banged his shoulder up in doing so. The injury is not serious, but Ashcraft may need time to heal.

That injury could send Stephen Batts to leftfield and mover Brandon Henderson to the starting spot at first base.

The Pirates play three games at South Carolina, and then head to Elon for a single midweek game next week before opening at Clark-LeClair stadium with that series against Monmouth beginning Feb. 29.

The South Carolina series should be an exciting one. I know many Pirate fans are planning on making the trip. Hopefully the weather will hold up for what should be a great series.


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04/21/2008 07:08:15 PM


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