Whitehead excited for second regional|Sophomore leads Pirates with 95 hits

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, May 28, 2009

By By Kevin Travis
Sports Editor

GREENVILLE — Trent Whitehead will be playing in his second regional tournament in as many years when the Pirates play host to the 2009 Greenville Regional this weekend.
The East Carolina sophomore, a former standout at Washington High School, played sparingly during the 2008 Conway (S.C.) Regional. Whitehead appeared in three of the four games.
He went 1-for-1 in a pinch-hitting role in a 16-3 loss to Alabama, 0-for-0 with one putout in leftfield in a 9-0 nod over Columbia and 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in a 16-1 victory over Alabama. Whitehead didn’t play in the team’s 24-11 loss to Coastal Carolina.
Whitehead is seeing plenty more action this year. He is ECU’s every day centerfielder and is the Pirates’ leadoff batter.
Though he’s used to playing, appearing in 58 of the team’s 59 games and starting 56 of them, Whitehead said there still may be some nerves.
“Just playing every day, I’ve kind of gotten used to it,” Whitehead said. “Still, when you go out in front of big crowds in big games, I still get a little nervous. But, after the first or second inning, it’s over with and you realize you’re still just playing baseball and that’s what it comes down to.”
Whitehead will once again lead off for the top-seeded Pirates (42-17) when they play host to the fourth-seeded Binghamton Bearcats (29-20) in Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The first game, beginning at 3 p.m., pits No. 2 seed South Carolina (38-21) against No. 3 seed George Mason (42-12).
Whitehead, who leads the Pirates with 95 hits and is hitting a robust .380, is glad his Pirates will be at home for the tournament.
“We play well at home,” Whitehead said. “I think that’s a huge advantage for us.
“The place gets so loud, and the players get so much more pumped up to play in front of fans that are on your side.”
Whitehead, who also has six homers and 42 RBIs, admitted that he doesn’t know much about the Bearcats. However, he and his teammates realize nobody can be taken lightly at this point.
“They’re going to be good teams and we’re going to have to play our best ball to win this thing,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead has flourished in his leadoff role. His 95 hits are tops among all Conference USA batters, and the total is tied for fifth best in ECU single-season history. Ryan Norwood collected 95 hits during the 2004 campaign.
Darryl Lawhorn holds the school record of 104 hits, set in 2002.
The 72 runs scored by Whitehead are the second best in school history. Both he and Ryan Wood, who leads the Pirates with 79 runs, broke the previous record of 70, set by Steve Salargo in 1999 and tied by Wood in 2008.
The 22 doubles belted by Whitehead is tied for third best in a single season, matching the total set by Bryant Ward and John Williamson in 2001.
Norwood’s 34 doubles is 2004 is the high mark.
Whitehead’s 250 at-bats is tied for fourth best, matching Lawhorn’s total in 2002 and Ryan Tousley’s total in 2007.
Jamie Paige owns the record with 267 at-bats in the 2004 season.
Whitehead, who was named to the All-C-USA Second Team and brought home the Hitter-of-the-Year award from “The Jungle,” the fans who cheer on the Pirates from behind the outfield wall, takes a 12-game hitting streak into Friday’s regional play.
While Whitehead wants to continue piling up the hits, he’s more interested in helping his Pirates pile up the victories.
“I want to get 100 hits on the year, but I’m not really thinking about my individual stats,” said Whitehead, who was named to the all-tournament play following the C-USA Tournament. “I’m doing whatever I can to help this team go as far as we can and achieve our goal of making the College World Series.”