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Countdown To Opening Day: The Catchers

Go Tigers!
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Feb. 7, 2014

Pirate Nation, we are one week away from the start of the 2014 East Carolina baseball season, where the Pirates will play host to James Madison on Friday, Feb. 14 at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium. will highlight a position each week leading up to the 3 p.m. (EST) first pitch, giving you the fans an in-depth look at this year squad.

With a year under his belt, sophomore Travis Watkins is expected to be the opening day starter behind the plate and will handle the pitching staff in 2014. The Johnny Bench Award candidate started 34 of 44 games behind the dish batting.267 (28-for-105) on his way to earning Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors. Watkins, who has improved as a hitter during the offseason, laced four doubles, drove in 16 and scored nine runs, while splitting time with fellow classmate Luke Lowery in 2013.

A tremendous receiver with a strong arm, Watkins threw out 34.2 percent of would-be base stealers (13 of 38) with four of those coming against nationally-ranked opponents. The Concord, N.C. native posted a .993 fielding percentage recording 246 putouts, 34 assists and committed just two errors in 282 chances.

 Quick Hits 

 Travis Watkins | So. | Catcher
 • 2013 Johnny Bench Award Watch List  
 • 2013 C-USA All-Freshman Team selection
 • Started 34 of 44 games with four doubles and 16 RBI


True freshman Eric Tyler has been a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff during the offseason and will spell Watkins in relief as the season rolls on, most likely during the midweek. The Landis, N.C. native was a four-year letterwinner for Coach Thad Chrismon at South Rowan High School, where he helped the Raiders to a district title in 2012. During his senior season he earned his third-straight All-North Piedmont All-Conference honor after batting .390 with 24 walks and 27 runs scored, while throwing out 35 base stealers.

Following a productive year at the plate where he batted .304 (28-for-92) and hit four home runs - both ranking third on the club - Lowery will make the move to first base to help provide the Pirates with more power in the lineup. The Midlothian, Va. native could hop back behind the plate if ninth-year head coach Billy Godwin wants to have more pop in the batting order, but its likely he will be the opening day starter at first.

Check back tomorrow when we take a look at the Pirate first basemen.