Right-Hander Is First Freshman To Garner Honors Since 2009
Junior Is ECU's First All-American Since 2009
Houchins Drives In Three, Lowery Collects Three Hits
Billy Godwin enters his ninth season as the head baseball coach at East Carolina University. After officially taking over the reigns of the Pirate ship on Oct. 28, 2005, Godwin has guided the Pirates to a 284-188-1 (.602) eight-year record which includes wins over nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton, Houston, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Rice, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Tulane, Virginia, UCF and UNC Wilmington.
In eight seasons, Godwin has led the Pirates to five NCAA Regional appearances and in 2009 advanced to their first Super Regional since 2004, when they claimed the Greenville Regional title inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. Godwin became just the second ECU coach to record three straight 40-plus win seasons (Keith LeClair, 1999-2002) after posting a league-best 46-20 mark that led to the 2009 Conference USA regular season crown.
During his tenure with the Pirates, Godwin has managed to play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, while his teams and players have annually been among the NCAA leaders offensively and pitching. Most recently, the 2013 club ranked 15th nationally in double plays (57), 45th in fielding percentage (.974) and 54th in home runs (33). Individually, Drew Reynolds ranked 14th in the country in saves (14), while Chase McDonald was 44th in home runs (11) - both leading Conference USA.
His 2013 team, which posted a 31-26 ledger, finished third in the league standings with a 14-10 record marking the fourth Top-3 finish in his eight-year career. He mentored six All-Conference USA performers including both McDonald and Reynolds, who were first-team selections. Junior Zach Houchins along with sophomore Jeff Hoffman and redshirt freshman David Lucroy were second-team honorees, while Lucroy and Travis Watkins were named to the all-freshman squad.
Houchins ranked second in the league in doubles (18), fourth in slugging percentage (.513) and sixth in RBI (42). He finished second on the team in both slugging and RBI behind teammate and C-USA leader McDonald. Hoffman, who entered the season as the Pirates top weekend hurler, finished among the league leaders in innings pitched (109.2) and strikeouts (82). In his first year of action with the Pirates, Lucroy posted a 2.49 ERA allowing 31 runs (20 earned) and held opposing batters to just a .194 clip - all ranking among the league leaders. The right-hander closed out his freshman campaign ranked 22nd nationally in fewest hits allowed and strikeouts per nine innings.
Looking to fill the void after losing five hurlers from the 2011 squad, which included two-third's of its weekend rotation, Godwin guided the Pirates to its 12th NCAA post-season appearance in the last 14 years garnering a No. 2 seed at the 2012 Chapel Hill Regional. Despite finishing with a 36-24-1 ledger, the Pirates put together another solid club highlighted by seven All-Conference USA performers, five of which were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft and spent 12 weeks in the national polls.
The 2012 edition of the Pirates ranked among the NCAA leaders in hits (29th/626), batting average (42nd/.295), ERA (43rd/3.35) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (43rd/2.41). Junior Andy Smithmyer (1.92) and senior Kevin Brandt (2.12) ranked 13th and 32nd nationally in ERA, while fellow upperclassman Tyler Joyner finished his junior campaign ranked 18th in the country in walks allowed per nine innings (1.17) and 21st in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.67). Junior John Wooten led the team in average (.338), home runs (nine), slugging percentage (.502), runs (50), total bases (119), while sharing the team lead in RBI (40), becoming the first Pirate since Darryl Lawhorn (2003) to claim the Triple Crown.
After a year hiatus from postseason play, Godwin guided the Pirates to their third NCAA Regional final in six seasons against overall No. 1 seed Virginia in the 2011 Charlottesville Regional. His club, which posted a 41-21 overall record and finished third in Conference USA with a 14-10 ledger, spent seven weeks in the national polls which culminated in a pair of top-30 final rankings (No. 25/ Baseball America and No. 29/ National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association). Godwin's 2011 squad sported the seventh-lowest ERA (2.67) in the nation behind a trio of all-conference hurlers including four-time first-team selection Seth Maness, who became the school's all-time wins (38) and strikeout (334) leader. Rounding out his stellar rotation were two-time All C-USA selections Kevin Brandt (second-team) and Brad Mincey (second-team), as well as third-round draft pick Mike Wright.
Godwin, who was named 2009 C-USA Keith LeClair Coach-of-the-Year, has had 50 players earn All C-USA honors placing 18 on the first-team, 21 on the second-team and 11 on the All-Freshman squad; five have been selected to 16 all-america teams (Jake Smith-2006, Corey Kemp-2008, Seth Maness-2008, Kyle Roller-2009 and Ryan Wood-2009), while Justin Bristow (Newcomer-2008), Chris Heston (Newcomer-2009), Corey Kemp (Player-2008), Maness (Freshman-2008; Pitcher-2010) and Zach Woods (Newcomer-2010) were named C-USA Players-of-the-Year.
Overall, 31 Pirates that played for Godwin over the last eight years have been drafted by Major League Baseball organizations, including six top eight round selections in M. Wright (third in 2010), Bristow (fifth in 2008), Jack Reinheimer (5th in 2013), Devin Harris (eighth in 2009), Roller (eighth in 2010) and Shane Mathews (eighth in 2007). Currently 16 of his players are playing professional baseball: Brandt (Tampa Bay Rays), Jharel Cotton (Los Angels Dodgers), Dustin Harrington (Chicago Cubs), Harris (San Francisco Giants), Chris Heston (San Francisco Giants), Maness (St. Louis Cardinals), McDonald (Houston Astros), Mincey (Florida Marlins), Reinheimer (Seattle Mariners), Roller (N.Y. Yankees), Seth Simmons (Arizona Diamondbacks), Corey Thompson (Chicago White Sox), Wooten (Oakland Athletics), M. Wright (Baltimore Orioles) and Zach Wright (Los Angles Angeles).
Maness became Godwin's first Pirate to get the call to the show on Apr. 13th with the St. Louis Cardinals and he made Major League debut on May 3 against the Milwaukee Brewers tossing an inning of scoreless relief. A quartet of Pirates in Armstrong, Heston, Roller and M. Wright were non-roster invitees in big camps prior to the start of the 2013 season.
In 2010, the Pirates (15-27) spent 10 weeks in the national polls - extending their school-record to 29 consecutive weeks dating back to the beginning of 2009 - climbing as high as No. 10 by Rivals.com. He tutored a quintet of all-conference performers, which included C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Year in Maness, who along with Roller were named first-team all-conference. His 2009 squad, which spent 19 consecutive weeks in the national polls, were one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, finishing with a NCAA-best 814 hits and ranking among the national leaders in runs (4th/565), doubles (6th/154), home runs (7th/108), slugging percentage (12th/.546) and batting average (15th/.339), while also leading C-USA (all games) with a .415 on-base percentage, 523 RBI and 1,310 total bases and a .971 fielding percentage.
Godwin's 2008 club, which garnered a No. 2 seed at the 2008 Conway Regional after posting a 42-21 record, was ranked as high as No. 21 in the national polls and produced one of the most productive offensive seasons in C-USA history (all games) leading the league in nine categories including average (.317), hits (702), RBI (464), runs (498), slugging percentage (.499) and on-base percentage (.408). For the second consecutive season the Pirates ranked first in home runs belting 89 to follow-up on its 2007 league leading 68.
The 2007 season, where Godwin was named N.C. Baseball Coaches Association Coach-of-the-Year, was highlighted by the Pirates (40-23) return trip to NCAA Regional play (No. 2 seed Chapel Hill), as well as a second place finish in both the Conference USA regular season and Tournament Championship. ECU also made a return appearance in the national polls where they spent nine weeks ranked in the top 30 with its highest rank at No. 19 by Baseball America on March 26. In 2006, senior catcher Jake Smith walked away with the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, which is given annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher. Smith, a second-team All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA, led the squad in seven offensive categories including average, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, while ranking second in home runs with 13.
During Godwin's six-year stint, the Pirates have continuously ranked among the league leaders (all games) in average, runs scored, total bases, slugging percentage, hits, triples, RBI, home runs (leader in `07), sac flies, stolen bases, ERA, runs allowed, opposing batting average, saves and runners picked off, while ranking among the top-30 nationally in home runs four of the last five seasons.
Godwin arrived at ECU as an assistant coach June 9, 2005 after six seasons as head coach of Louisburg (N.C.) College.
At Louisburg, he posted an impressive 262-85 (.755) overall record. During the 2005 season, Godwin guided the Hurricanes to Region X regular season and tournament titles on his way to earning Region X Coach-of-the-Year honors. The 2005 Hurricanes finished the regular season with a 49-13 record and stood sixth nationally in the NJCAA Division I final regular season poll. In 2004, the Hurricanes went 40-18 and claimed the top seed at the Region X Tournament before finishing the campaign as a regional finalist.
After taking the helm at Louisburg College in the fall of 1999, Godwin kept the Hurricanes in the national spotlight by averaging 43 wins per season. The Hurricanes finished with a school-record 51-11 mark in 2002 and made their 10th trip to the College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. During his tenure at Louisburg, Godwin earned Region X and Eastern District Coach-of-the-Year honors, received the North Carolina College Coach-of-the-Year award in 2002, and saw 10 players sign professional contracts, including current Major Leaguer Josh Rupe (Baltimore Orioles).
Godwin, who was the interim coach from Oct. 10-28, replaced Randy Mazey, who had served as the Pirates' head coach from 2003-2005.
After starring in baseball at Northern Nash High School in Rocky Mount, N.C., Godwin signed an athletic scholarship to pitch at Atlantic Christian College in 1982. He captured 19 wins during his career with the Bulldogs, helping to lead them to two District 26 regular season crowns. He was named team captain in his senior year and won the Kiwanis Award for the Most Outstanding Male Student-Athlete in 1986. While at Atlantic Christian, he played for Dave Jauss, who has served as a coach at the Major League level and is currently in the Pittsburgh Pirates front office.
Godwin spent two seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina Wesleyan College in 1989 and 1990, working under the direction of current UNC-Chapel Hill Head Coach Mike Fox. His efforts helped guide the Bishops to the 1989 Division III National Championship and a third place finish a year later.
In 1991, Godwin was named athletic director and head baseball coach at Enfield (N.C.) Academy where he guided the Patriots to a 131-57 overall record, with five consecutive conference championships, four straight Final Four appearances and a state title in 1994.
Prior to joining the Louisburg College athletic staff, Godwin served as athletic director and head baseball coach at Cary (N.C.) Academy. Godwin earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Atlantic Christian in 1986 before following with a master's degree in education from East Carolina University in 1995. He is married to the former Sharon Smith of Rocky Mount, N.C., and the couple has one daughter (Mallory).