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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 14, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Coaches, players prep for spring climax

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest SKIP HOLTZ. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250-AM and 930-AM.
Replay Show
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Bailey: Coaches, players prep for spring climax
BVL: Pirates ranked as high as No. 17
O'Brien: Stage set for parity in C-USA hoops
BVL Audio: Billy Godwin Post-game
BVL Box Score: Rice 5, East Carolina 4
BVL Box Score: East Carolina 4, Rice 1
BVL Box Score: Rice 15, East Carolina 11

While it lasts, East Carolina coach Skip Holtz truly enjoys the spring football season.

This year’s spring schedule is quickly winding down. The Pirates have one more practice, and then will close out the spring with Saturday’s game.

The spring football game is the highlight of the annual “Great Pirate Purple Gold Pigskin Pigout Party.”

“It’s gone by quickly,” said Holtz about the spring. “Knock on wood we haven’t added to our injuries. We just hope to get through Saturday without getting anyone hurt.”

The Pirates do have injury problems. As many as fifteen players who are expected to make up the first or second string this fall are sitting out this spring.

Saturday’s game should feature a competitive balance. Coach Holtz says the coaching staff will conduct a players draft, and the squads should be announced by Wednesday.

Holtz also said he’ll talk with his seniors about just what the squads will play for. Sometimes the winning teams get steak for dinner, while the losers get beanie-weenies. One year the losing team had to hold a car wash for charity. Of course. members of the winning team that year got their cars washed in the deal.

“I’ll get with the seniors and give them some ideas,” said Holtz. “It’s funny how the guys really get into it. Once the teams are divided up, some of the players will pass out their own ‘scouting reports’ for the game. They really enjoy the competition.”

The game clock will run as normal for the first half. Holtz says he’ll take a look and adjust if needed to make sure the team gets in the plays it needs for the game.

“I think the fans will enjoy it,” said Holtz. “It’s our last taste of football for a while. I really like the entire weekend and I know our players do as well.”

Holtz and the rest of the coaching staff will be up for bids for the golf teams that will tee off in the Pirate Golf Classic on Friday.

“If anyone wants to bid on me it had better be to talk football, and not for my golf game,” joked Holtz. “I haven’t had a lot of time to play golf lately.”

Diamond Bucs tarnished a bit

On the diamond, the Pirates came away with just one win in those five big games last week.

Still, East Carolina stands tied with Rice for first place in Conference USA. Rice took the series with ECU by winning the third game 5-4.

The most disappointing part of the week was in the first game against Rice. East Carolina failed to hold seven-run leads on two occasions and lost 15-11.

Seth Maness was the man in game two, giving up just three hits in a complete game winning performance.

In the third game, Devin Harris hit a three-run home run in the eighth to pull the Pirates within a run. In the ninth, the Pirates got two on and Brandon Henderson looked like he hit a gapper to win it. But the wind knocked down the line drive, and the Pirates lost the series to the Owls.

“The say it’s a game of inches and it certainly game into play today,” said Coach Billy Godwin after Sunday’s game. “A foot or two more and that ball is over his head, but that’s the way it goes. I couldn’t be any prouder about how our kids completed. I told them in the eighth when we were down 5-1 that they had to keep believing, and they did and they battled their rear end off and I couldn’t be any prouder of that.”

Despite losing four of five games last week, the Pirates were ranked nationally for the ninth straight week.

East Carolina is now ranked 17th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, 20th by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, 23rd in Baseball America and 25th by

The Pirates host Campbell tonight, and then N.C. State comes to town on Wednesday.

“All we are thinking about is Campbell right now,” said Godwin. “They gave us all that we wanted down in Buies Creek, so we know it will be a tough game.”

The Pirates are back on the road in league play this weekend at Tulane.

No. 3 for Sowers

ECU pitcher Sthil Sowers will wear uniform number 3 for the rest of the season.

Sowers requested the number change to honor his former teammate at North Lenoir, John Alphin, who died in an automobile accident on Friday.

Sowers told me that Alphin was going to try and walk on at ECU, but he had some back problems and didn’t do so. He was finishing up his freshman year at East Carolina.

Alphin and Sowers led North Lenoir to a state championship in 2006.

"We were real good friends," Sowers said. "In high school, the whole team was like brothers.”

Sowers wore No. 3 in his relief appearance on Sunday. Later that day he attended the funeral of his friend.

"It's tough losing someone like him, as great a person as he was and as great a friend. It's tough," said Sowers.

Tougher then any hitter Sowers will ever face.

It’s just another example of how each day is a gift that many of us, especially including myself, take for granted.
Sthil showed great courage in pitching on Sunday with such a heavy heart.

Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the Alphin family.


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04/14/2009 02:36:16 AM


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