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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Pirate baseball opens with banquet

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

For the second straight year it was my honor to serve as emcee for the East Carolina Pirates baseball banquet, held this past Saturday at Williams Arena.

Some 400 fans packed the arena to get set for the upcoming baseball season. It was quite a night, and one that I was proud to be a part of.

ECU Hall of Fame inductee Chad Tracy was the guest speaker. Tracy and Pirate head coach Cliff Godwin were a part of the 'glory' days of East Carolina baseball, when the squad came as close as they have in history to making the College World Series in Omaha.

Tracy spoke about the work ethic of that team. He spoke about the similarities of the late Keith LeClair's program and the one that Cliff Godwin is putting together.

Both Tracy and Godwin recalled stories of the toil they put in for Keith LeClair during those regional runs.

"My first year he (LeClair) was on me all of the time," said Tracy. "But I realize now what it was all about and I was a better player then, and a better man now because of it."

The Pirate captains were introduced and each had a chance to say a few words. This year's captains, as voted on by the squad, are catcher Travis Watkins and outfielders Parker Lamm and Garrett Brooks.

Lamm was especially humorous with his remarks. He talked about his journey from Pitt Community College to ECU, which included trying out with other walk-ons, a one-day contract from Coach Godwin and a locker in the umpire's locker room.

"I've come a long way," Lamm joked.

Godwin deserves a lot of credit for the direction this team is going, both on and off the field.

The team's GPA this past semester was 3.42, best in school history. Ryan Littlefield and Travis Watkins led the way with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

Godwin also emphasizes giving back to the community. During this past year the squad racked up hour after hour serving the area. The Pirates donated their time to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, NC Packs 4 Patriots, the "Good Samaritan 5K and the Exceptional Community Baseball League (ECBL).

I know first hand about the ECBL's relationship with East Carolina baseball. The special needs players of the league are invited out to play a game with the Pirates each spring at Clark-LeClair Stadium. It is a day that the players in the league and the Pirate players cherish.

Things could get a little hairy in March. The Pirate players plan on all growing mustaches for "Mustache March." The event will bring awareness to ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Former coach Keith LeClair had his life cut way too short by this dreaded disease.

I haven't grown a mustache since 1991, when the Pirate football team shaved my decade long 'stache as a part of the celebration heading into the Peach Bowl. I promised not to grown a mustache back in that team's honor.

I don't think they'll mind a month long 'reneging' of that promise for a great cause. I'm just hoping the mustache doesn't come back all white!

The baseball season is now less than two weeks away. ECU opens a three-game home stand with Longwood on Friday, Feb. 19.

This is a team that enters 2016 with much confidence. The goal is to host an NCAA regional this year.

I would say the Pirates have taken care of business off the field and now look to do the same on the diamond.

Thanks Pirate baseball for allowing me to be a part of a fun and special night with the ECU baseball banquet!

We'll see you at Clark-LeClair stadium.


E-mail Brian Bailey

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PAGE UPDATED 02/09/16 03:18 AM