Whitehead caps off record-breaking season|ECU sophomore finishes with 105 hits

Published 1:08 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sports Editor

Trent Whitehead etched his name into the East Carolina record book. He’d prefer to see his name listed among the players who will be participating in the 2009 College World Series.
Whitehead set the ECU single-season record for hits in a season when he smashed a single up the middle in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Super Regionals. It gave the sophomore 105 hits, breaking the mark of 104 hits set by Darryl Lawhorn in 2004.
“Any time you look at an ECU record book, you see Darryl Lawhorn’s name up and down the list for the record that he accomplished while he was there,” Whitehead said. “It’s great to have my name up there around his, but I would trade the hit record to go to Omaha any day of the week.”
The No. 14 Pirates (46-20) came up just short of getting to Omaha, Neb., site of the College World Series. The Tar Heels denied ECU of that quest by sweeping two games in the Super Regionals.
“It’s disappointing,” said Whitehead, a former star at Washington High School. “I’m really sad for the seniors. It was such a great season and we did some great things.
“We were two wins away (from the College World Series). That’s about as close as you can get.”
Whitehead said the Pirates will strive even harder next year to reach their goal.
“We had a great season, but we didn’t reach our overall goal of making the College World Series,” Whitehead said. “We have to continue to keep working so we can reach that goal.”
While his team fell in both games at Boshamer Stadium, Whitehead said he enjoyed his first Super Regionals experience.
“It was amazing,” Whitehead said. “The fans here were great, the atmosphere was great and it was great competition.
“I always heard about how much fun it was once you get into the postseason in college baseball. I can say that it’s a blast.”
Whitehead collected two hits in Sunday’s loss, leaving him with the new school record. The speedy leadoff batter also showed some sweet leather during the series, finishing with 13 putouts from his centerfield position.
He had five putouts in Sunday’s game, including a nifty sprawling grab of Ryan Graepel’s shallow fly in the eighth.
“I got a terrible read on it,” Whitehead said. “I thought he hit the ball better than what he did. I made the play look a lot tougher than what it had to be. I just had to bust in as hard as I could. Laying out was the last thing I could possibly do to catch the ball.”
Whitehead finished his sophomore year playing in 65 games, starting 63 of them.
He hit .367 with seven homers, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Whitehead had 279 at-bats this year, which is also a single-season record. He broke the previous mark of 267, set by Jamie Paige in 2004.
He scored 78 runs on the year, which is the second highest mark in program history. Ryan Wood holds the record of 87 runs scored, which he established this season.
Whitehead’s 24 doubles ranks as the third highest mark in a season. Ryan Norwood’s 34 doubles in 2004 is the benchmark.
He finished with 154 total bases, which is eighth best in a single season. Lawhorn has the school record with 179 set in 2002.
Whitehead was stellar in the field, finishing with 155 putouts and four assists. His .994 fielding percentage topped all of ECU’s regulars.
Whitehead earned several honors this season. He was named to the All-Conference USA Tournament Team, voted to the All-C-USA Second Team, named as the 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional Most Valuable Player while also being named to the all-tournament team.
Whitehead, who was also named Hitter of the Year by ECU’s fans in “The Jungle,” downplayed his solid sophomore campaign.
“There are some things I still need to improve on,” Whitehead said. “I thought it was a decent season.
“I really think a lot of it had to do with who I was around. I had a lot of positive people, a lot of great people, around me. They really helped me be successful this year.”
Whitehead, who will play in the Cape Cod League this summer, is already looking forward to his junior season.
“The seniors will be really tough to replace, but we should have a lot of experience,” Whitehead said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be just as good, if not even better next year.”