Whitehead enjoys new role

Published 6:48 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE – That No. 1 on his back isn’t just for show.
Trent Whitehead, who wears the No. 1 jersey, was the number one hitter for the No. 23 East Carolina Pirates over the weekend. The sophomore, a former standout with the Washington Pam Pack, was used as ECU’s leadoff batter in both games of Friday’s 6th Annual Keith LeClair Classic.
He finished the Classic with four hits, including a pair of doubles, in 10 trips to the plate. Whitehead, who had been hitting seventh in the lineup, also had an RBI and scored two runs.
Whitehead, who is now hitting .500 with five RBIs and six runs scored, grounded out in his first three at-bats in a 9-7 win over St. John’s to start the Classic. He singled and eventually scored in the sixth inning, then smacked an RBI-double to complete ECU’s scoring in the eighth.
Whitehead doubled and scored in the third inning of ECU’s 7-6 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State in the second game of the Classic. He also had an infield hit in the fifth.
Fourth-year coach Billy Godwin put Whitehead at the top of the order, replacing Trent Ashcraft in that position. Ashcraft is hitting .056 on the year.
Whitehead knew his coach wanted to see a spark, but felt relaxed heading to the batter’s box.
Whitehead put himself into position to be the leadoff batter with a solid game against Oklahoma State in Thursday’s 14-7 victory. He banged out a career-high four hits, drove in three runs and scored twice.
Along with the hot stick, Whitehead is playing flawless defense. He started in center field and moved over to right field in the latter innings of both games Friday.
Whitehead has 12 putouts, but one definitely stands out. He made a highlight-reel catch in the seventh inning of Friday’s win over St. John’s.
Playing right field, he sprinted into foul territory on a ball hit by Jimmy Parque, snagged the ball while reaching his glove over the fence, then proceeded to tumble head first over the fence and into the St. John’s bullpen.
Whitehead immediately sprang to his feet, pulled the ball from his glove and flashed it to the umpire.
Whitehead and the Pirates have started the season strong. They’ll take a 5-1 record into Tuesday’s home game against Old Dominion.