Pirates wrap up successful season|Establish several new records along the way

Published 12:57 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sports Editor

The East Carolina Pirates were two wins away from reaching their ultimate goal — playing in the College World Series.
ECU’s season came to an end with two straight losses to the No. 4 national seed, North Carolina Tar Heels, in Super Regional action. The Tar Heels took wins of 10-1 and 9-3 over the Pirates.
The Pirates (46-20) made their third Super Regional appearance in program history. ECU was also swept in its previous two trips, falling to Tennessee in 2001 and to South Carolina in 2004.
“Unfortunately, we have to have experiences such as these,” ECU fourth-year coach Billy Godwin said. “I think you fail before you succeed sometimes. We have to keep grinding and keep putting a quality product on the mound.
“That’s the next step, but I think some of the experiences like this, sometimes I say that a player’s failure is his best feature. It hurts; it stings, but I think it’s an important part of growing and maturing as a team and a program.”
The Conference USA regular-season champions, who hosted the first regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium, finished the year with 46 victories. That total is tied for fourth best in a single season, matching the feats of the 1999 and 2000 clubs.
The record is 51, set in 2004.
UNC coach Mike Fox, who led his Heels to their fourth straight College World Series appearance, believes the future looks bright for the Pirates.
“I want to congratulate East Carolina on the tremendous season they had,” Fox said. “They had a terrific season. Billy (Godwin) and I go way back. He’s done a terrific job there.
“He deserves to be where he is. That program is going to be good for a long time.”
The Pirates broke several single-season records this season. They played in 66 games, eclipsing the previous high of 64 set in 2000 and tied in 2002 and 2004.
ECU ended the year with a team batting average of .339, shattering the previous record of .325 set in 1990 and duplicated in 1999.
The team smashed 108 home runs, bettering the old mark of 100 set in 2004.
ECU’s 565 runs topped the previous best of 516, established in 1999.
The 523 runs batted in broke the previous high of 480, set in 2004.
ECU’s 814 hits smashed the 2004 total of 725.
The 154 doubles this year is one better than the previous high of 153, set in 2004.
ECU also set new records in slugging percentage (.546, beating the old mark of .534 in 1999), at-bats (2,401, beating the old mark of 2,277 in 2004) and total bases (1,310, beating the old mark of 1,200 in 2004).
“I was really proud of the effort our guys gave us the entire year,” Godwin said. “I thought we did some special things in East Carolina history. I couldn’t be any prouder.”
Ten regulars hit .311 or better for the Pirates.
Ryan Wood (14 HRs, 57 RBIs, 14 steals) led the club with his .379 batting average, 87 runs scored and 50 walks.
Trent Whitehead (7 HRs, 47 RBIs, 10 steals), who set a new single-season record, led the Pirates with 105 hits. The sophomore, a former Washington Pam Pack star, hit .376 on the year.
Kyle Roller (.336) led ECU with 16 home runs and 75 RBIs.
Other top hitters for the Pirates were Austin Homan (.354, 19 RBIs), Stephen Batts (.352, 14 HRs, 63 RBIs, 19 steals), Devin Harris (.344, 14 HRs, 48 RBIs, 13 steals), Brandon Henderson (.330, 13 HRs, 57 RBIs), Jared Avchen (.330, 2 HRs, 29 RBIs), Dustin Harrington (.318, 14 HRs, 49 RBIs) and Drew Schieber (.311, 8 HRs, 52 RBIs).
Brad Mincey (10-5, 3.16 ERA) topped the ECU pitching staff in victories this year.
Kevin Brandt (9-2, 3.64 ERA) and Seth Maness (9-3, 4.71 ERA) weren’t far off the pace.
Chris Heston (7-0, 4.17 ERA) went undefeated on the season.
Other top pitchers of the Pirates were Seth Simmons (3-1, nine saves, 3.69 ERA), Bailey Daniels (2-2, 4.35 ERA), Patrick Somers (2-2, 5.64 ERA), Mike Wright (1-2, 7.66 ERA) and Sthil Sowers (1-2, 8.65 ERA).
The Pirates will lose some players to graduation and the Major League Baseball draft. However, Godwin likes what he has returning.
“We’ve got a good core of guys coming back,” Godwin said. “We’ve got a lot of our pitchers who will be back. That’s one of the things I try to emphasize in my tenure at East Carolina, that we have to roll guys out there to give us a shot. You see how important those guys are that went out there for North Carolina (Sunday), and I think we’re getting there.”