2011 Baseball Outlook Part II

UABSPORTS.COM Senior Trent Whitehead looks to lead ECU back to post-season play
Senior Trent Whitehead looks to lead ECU back to post-season play

Feb. 18, 2011

The one thing the Pirates can bank on this season that they haven't been able to in any other year under head coach Billy Godwin is positional depth. With seven returnees that can play a multiple positions, Godwin and assistant coach Nick Schnabel are excited with they have seen since the start of Fall Ball back in September.

While there are four capable guys that can first base in Austin Homan (State College, Pa.), Chase McDonald (Greenville, N.C.), Corey Thompson (Apex, N.C.) and John Wooten (Goldsboro, N.C.), Coach Godwin has elected to start Thompson at first for the opening day. The preseason first-team All-Conference USA selection has shown solid defensive skills and nice foot work to get the opening day nod, plus being a career .380 hitter the Pirates can't afford to not have in the lineup. Thompson led the 2010 squad in average (.377), hits (86), runs (61), RBI (54) and total bases (132) as a sophomore.

McDonald, a true freshman has also been impressive at first during the fall and early spring workouts. The 2010 N.C. 4A All-State performer batted .510 with 12 home runs as a senior at J.H. Rose High School and should see plenty of action in the field as the year progresses. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 259 pounds, McDonald is a right-hander version of Kyle Roller where just his presence in the lineup as a designated hitter on Opening Day, will be a huge factor.

There is no hiding that ECU's biggest problem last year was the play up the middle, especially at shortstop when conference play started, and that is one area the Godwin and Schnabel addressed during the offseason. Just like at first base, there are four candidates that the Pirates can roll out there on any given day in Junior College transfers Michael Ussery (Fremont, Calif.) and Timothy Younger (Clearwater, Fla.) and true freshmen Jack Reinheimer (Charlotte, N.C.) and Drew Reynolds (Cherryville, N.C.).



 Quick Hits  

 Corey Thompson | Jr. | First Base
 • Preseason first-team All-CUSA  
 • Career .383 hitter, which is tied for 3rd all-time in C-USA
 • Second-team All C-USA selection in 2010
 • Became the 5th player since 1995 at ECU to hit for the cycle (4/30/10)


 Quick Hits  

 Timothy Younger | Jr. | Second Base
 • Junior College transfer from St. Petersburg College  
 • Played in 109 career games for SPC batting .301 with 25 doubles and 62 RBI
 • Can play both second and short


 Quick Hits  

 Trent Whitehead | Sr. | Outfielder
 • 2010 Preseason All-C-USA  
 • ECU's single-season hits leader (105)
 • 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional MVP and second-team All C-USA selection


 Quick Hits  

 Austin Homan  | Sr. | Outfielder
 • Two-time Honorary No. 23 recipient and team captain  
 • Career .321 hitter with 12 doubles, 52 RBI and 44 runs scored
 • ECU's top utility player in 2010


 Quick Hits  

 John Wooten  | So. | Outfielder
 • 2010 C-USA All-Freshman Team selection  
 • Belted 9 home runs ranking fourth on the team as a freshman
 • Started collegiate career with a home run in first official at-bat and homered in 3 consecutive games to start his Pirate career


Godwin has elected to go with Reinheimer at short and Younger at second to open the season. Reinheimer, who was drafted in 31st round by the Atlanta Braves, was rated as one of the top shortstops in the South by several scouts at the end of the 2010 campaign. As a senior at Ardrey Kell High School, he batted .378 with three home runs with a team-best 28 RBI while stealing 14 of 15 bases on his way to N.C. 4A All-State honors.

Younger will make his Pirate debut at second base after spending the past two seasons at St. Petersburg College where he batted .335 with eight doubles, 23 RBI and 31 runs scored. Schnabel has said that Younger is a fluid midfielder that reminds him of former Pirate shortstop Billy Richardson (2004-05). Ussery, led the Pirates in hitting during the fall is versatile enough that he can play both second and short with no problems. During his two-year stint at Ohlone Junior College, the same Junior College that Schnabel played at before coming to ECU in 1999, he batted .340 (103-for-303) with two home runs, 24 doubles, 70 runs scored and helped the Renegades to the 2010 California State Championship and a No. 3 final ranking by Perfect Game.

Reynolds, a smooth fielder with lots of range and a strong arm, will man the hot corner to start the 2011 season. The two-time N.C. 2A All-State performer led East Rutherford High School to the 2A state crown as a senior where he took home MVP honors. During his senior year, Reynolds batted .519 with five home runs for the Cavaliers and took home his second-straight 2A conference player-of-the-year honors. When Godwin decides to tinker with his lineup, he can also look to Thompson and Wooten to fill the void at third base.

Returning for his third tour of duty in center is a fan favorite in Trent Whitehead (Washington, N.C.). A preseason first-team All C-USA selection by the league's head coaches, Whitehead set the school's single-season hits record (105) in 2009 on his way to all-conference honors. The left-handed lead-off hitter started 57 games in the outfield where he batted .331 (81-for-245) with four home runs, 31 RBI, 15 doubles and scored 51 runs. For the second-straight season, Whitehead ranked among the league leaders in at-bats (4th) and stolen bases (9th).

Homan, the Pirates top utility man a year ago, set career-highs in hits (40), doubles (7), RBI (28) and belted his first collegiate home run against Conference USA foe Tulane on April 3. The two-time team captain and two-time recipient of the Honorary No. 23 jersey will get the start in left field. He played in 43 games with 33 starts and ranked fifth on the team with a .313 batting average.

Wooten, a 2010 C-USA All-Freshman Team member, started 54 of 55 games played in 2010 experiencing action at short (24 games), first (18), third (9) and in the outfield (3). He batted .311 (69-for-222) with nine home runs, 10 doubles, 40 RBI and 39 runs scored. Wooten, who will open the season in right field, started his freshman season by hitting a home run in his first collegiate at-bat against then No. 2 Virginia and started his career with a homer in three-straight games.

Also battling for playing time in the outfield are sophomores Philip Clark (Norfolk, Va.), Jacob Davis (Wilson, N.C.) and Chris Gosik (Malvern, Pa.) along with true freshman Ben Fultz (Greensboro, N.C.). Clark and Gosik experienced significant action a year ago combining to start 44 games. Clark batted .290 with two home runs, five doubles, swiped nine bases and scored 28 runs. Gosik appeared in 39 games in left field and at third base during his rookie campaign where he batted .246 with two home runs, five doubles, 12 RBI and was a perfect 4-for-4 on the base paths.