The Wolfpacker

March 2013 - Signing Day Edition

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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��� pack perspective Wolfpack Baseball Team Has The Potential For A Special Season By Tim Peeler aseball, in all its beauty, is not a game of perfection. Major leaguers don���t go into a season expecting to go 162-0, and college baseball players realize in a season that begins in the middle of winter there is room for significant growth when the trees fill out with leaves and the weather becomes tolerable to bare arms. Baseball is more about winning two out of three in a series and knowing how to rebound from losses. Some well-placed losses, in fact, can be just as beneficial as a bad win in a sport that is not ruined by an early-season misstep. Veteran NC State baseball coach Elliott Avent knows that his 2013 team ��� a squad that entered the season with great anticipation, grand expectations and its highest rankings in school history ��� might be better off after its season-opening loss to Appalachian State, a team that just missed a shot at an NCAA Super Regional last season. That loss, followed by two straight rain-outs, allowed Avent to throw his No. 8-ranked team���s preseason press clippings, which included the cover story in Baseball America featuring All-Americans Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner, into the recycling bin. It allowed the message Avent has been trying to impart to his team all preseason ��� that it needs to improve on all phases of the game to compete at the highest level of college baseball ��� to be heard without the muffle of preseason hype. There���s nothing like staring at a rainsoaked tarp for a few days with an 0-1 record to create a different sense of urgency for a team that is expected to be one of the best in school history. Fans have lined up pretty much since the Wolfpack ended last season in the NCAA Gainesville (Fla.) Super Regional to support Avent���s 17th edition of the Wolfpack. Season-ticket sales have literally doubled since last year. Rodon and Turner, who had two of the greatest freshman debuts in school history last season, got even better during the summer with Team USA. Rodon says he���s a better pitcher, and Turner improved while he faced the challenge of moving from third base to shortstop. Avent and his staff put together one of the nation���s top recruiting classes to add to its existing talent. The outlook for a program that hasn���t been to the College World Series since 1968 couldn���t have been brighter. B Sophomore pitcher Carlos Rodon (above) had a career-high 14 strikeouts on Feb. 23 when he combined with freshman Karl Keglovits to throw a no-hitter against La Salle in a 5-0 victory. photo by ken martin ���I think this is probably the most talented team that we���ve had since I���ve been here,��� Avent said in the preseason. ���This is a good ballclub. Starting this season you have to say this team has an excellent opportunity, and we���ve been so close so many times and not kicked that door in. But it���s going to take leadership.��� Avent has taken the Wolfpack to 12 NCAA Regionals and three Super Regionals, but the return trip to the CWS has eluded the Pack since second-year coach Sam Esposito and his combination of pitcher Mike Caldwell and slugging third baseman Chris Cammack made its way to Omaha and finished third. The Pack���s stated goal was not just to get there, but to win it. But that���s not possible until the summer. There is a full season ahead, one that should be fun to follow all spring. In a coach���s eyes, an outlook like the one this year���s team has can shine too bright. So the season-opening loss to the Mountaineers ��� in which Rodon gave up three home runs and suffered his first loss since his junior year of high school ��� took some of the glare away from the early season and al- lowed the Wolfpack to make improvements. Both Rodon and the team bounced back in blinding fashion. In his second start this year, on Feb. 23, the strapping lefthander from Holly Springs, N.C., combined with freshman Karl Keglovits to throw a no-hitter against La Salle in a 5-0 victory, the program���s first no-hitter since 2005. Rodon had a career-high 14 strikeouts in seven innings and looked like the unhittable freshman of a year ago. The next day, the Wolfpack offense opened up in a double-header against Wagner to score 43 runs. It won the opener 18-0 and followed with a 25-4 win in the second game. In the end, the season-opening loss to an excellent team cost the Wolfpack two spots in the national rankings. It also opened the ears of the players to hear what Avent has been trying to teach in the preseason: This is not only a season of great anticipation, but one of great opportunity to reach longawaited goals. But it is not a game of perfection. And that���s what makes it interesting. ��� You may contact Tim Peeler at 94��� ������ the wolfpacker 94.Pack Perspective.indd 94 2/26/13 3:58 PM

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