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2023 College Top 25 Preview: No. 24 East Carolina

Last season: 46-21 (20-4 in American), lost in super regionals
Final ranking: No. 17
Coach (record at school): Cliff Godwin (304-151-1, eight seasons)

The good news: ECU has become the AAC’s powerhouse under Godwin and has won three straight conference titles. The Pirates are well positioned to extend that streak in 2023, as they return an older, veteran team. Leading hitter Lane Hoover is back, as is outfielder Jacob Jenkins-Cowart, who is coming off a Freshman All-American season. On the mound, righthander Carter Spivey, the 2022 AAC Pitcher of the Year, returns, as does fellow fifth-year senior Garrett Saylor. Saylor, Spivey and Josh Grosz were three of the Pirates’ top four pitchers by innings last year, giving them plenty of returning experience.

The bad news: ECU lost some significant players from last year’s team, including All-American two-way player Zach Agnos and Bryson Worrell, the team’s top offensive threat. While the Pirates had something of an unusual pitching strategy last year, leaning heavily on their bullpen, they did still lose some of their top starting pitching options. ECU will need a bounce-back season from first baseman Josh Moylan, who was a Freshman All-American in 2021, but last season posted just a .771 OPS. If he can recapture his freshman year form, he and Jenkins-Cowart could form a strong 1-2 punch in the middle of the order. While ECU has a largely veteran roster, it also will be starting pair of younger players up the middle in sophomore catcher Ryan McCrystal and freshman shortstop Nathan Chrismon. Getting that duo up to speed, especially defensively, in the college game will be critical.

Player to know: Carter Spivey, SP.

Spivey last season became the first reliever to be named AAC pitcher of the year after going 8-0, 2.83 with 76 strikeouts and 19 walks in 76.1 innings. He appeared in 35 games, saved five and started two. His usage was largely indicative of the way ECU attacked games on the mound. The Pirates didn’t play with a traditional rotation and instead were aggressive with their relievers, particularly their top options like Spivey. Things are likely going to be more traditional this season and Spivey is expected to operate as a starter, but no matter what role he pitches in, his solid stuff and control will make him the key to the ECU staff.

Path to Omaha: The Pirates have made super regionals in three straight seasons but have been unable to get over the hump to reach Omaha for the first time in program history. Last year looked like their best opportunity yet as they earned the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament and homefield advantage in super regionals, but they were beaten by Texas in three games. The more ECU gets to the doorstep, the more likely it is it will finally reach the College World Series. For this year’s team to be the one to do so, the Pirates will have to find a new formula on the mound and get their young players in premium positions settled. Another step forward from the likes of Jenkins-Cowart to anchor the lineup would be a big boost.

Chase Dollander (Bill Mitchell)

Four Of A Kind? Examining The Candidates For The No. 1 Pick In the 2023 Draft

Just how good is this fearsome foursome? How much separation is there between them and how do the players compare and contrast with one another?

CRyan McCrystalSo..148.294.2592715
1BJosh MoylanJr..221.355.416190627
2BJacob StarlingJr..243.383.403144631
3BAlec MakarewiczR-Jr..270.346.4642481145
SSNathan ChrismonFr.HS—China Grove, N.C.
OFLane HooverR-Sr..341.423.416255033
OFJacob Jenkins-CowartSo..330.367.5492331365
OFCarter CunninghamR-Jr..227.317.38688316
DHJustin WilcoxenR-Jr..276.327.3989829
SPCarter SpiveyR-Sr.802.8376765
SPJosh GroszJr.455.6557610
SPTrey YesavageSo.104.5026452
RPTyler BradtJr.Transfer—Virginia MIlitary Institute
RPGarrett SaylorR-Sr.635.01791085

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