East Carolina ace Evan Kruczynski returns to lead an experienced pitching staff (Aaron Fitt)


Fall Report: East Carolina

Fall Report

GREENVILLE, N.C. — The best college baseball teams are usually stacked with upperclassmen. East Carolina was loaded with juniors last year when it won the Charlottesville Regional and pushed Texas Tech to the brink in the Lubbock Super Regional. But unlike most veteran super regional teams, the Pirates brought almost everybody back for another year.

Amazingly, no ECU players were drafted last June. Some of them, like ace lefty Evan Kruczynski (who wants to be a coach) and catcher Travis Watkins (a good student who wants to get his MBA), probably could have gone pro last year but placed a lot of value in returning to school for another year. Some of them were just good college players without professional tools. Some of them put up underwhelming numbers as juniors. And some of them were probably just overlooked.

Regardless of the reasons, ECU enters 2017 brimming with experience. Seven everyday regulars are back in the fold, plus the top two weekend starters, the closer and several other key arms. So it’s no surprise that the Pirates practiced like a veteran team at Thursday’s scout day — their first official day of fall practice.

“We’re excited, and today was a good day,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “Guys played with a lot of energy, and I thought we swung the bats well, we threw strikes, we played good defense.”

The returning players alone would make East Carolina a strong Omaha contender in 2017, but this roster is even deeper thanks to the addition of a very strong recruiting class.


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