The Wolfpacker

March-April 2024

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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10 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY NOAH FLEISCHMAN F resh off an NCAA regional appear- ance last spring, the NC State base- ball team revamped its roster in two ways: through recruiting elite high school talent and filling in the gaps with a highly touted transfer portal class. The Wolfpack signed the No. 5 fresh- man class, according to D1 Baseball, headlined by right-handed pitchers Chance Mako and Jaxon Lucas, and catcher Alex Sosa. It also brought in the 12th-ranked contingent of transfer por- tal additions. Between the two avenues of recruit- ing, NC State has 20 new faces on the roster, including six transfers. For Wolf- pack coach Elliott Avent, who is enter- ing his 28th season at the helm of the squad, blending his team together was a focus this offseason. "I'm a big chemistry guy," Avent said. "I think it's hard to build a team, especially with 39 players, when you only play so few. … Trying to build that team chemistry, you have to have that, because there's so much adversity in baseball." Avent has taken the Pack to a pair of College World Series appearances, and NC State is searching to get back there for the first time since the 2021 cam- paign. The first step in that process has been building a team that is unified as one. "To overcome a lot of things that you go through, you have to have that team bond and team chemistry and everybody wanting the same goals, the same mission," Avent said. "To do that any year has al- ways been tough, but to do it with the transfer portal, so many new players every year, it becomes a little more of a challenge." The transfer portal has created a new age in col- lege athletics, and baseball is no different. The Wolfpack has benefited from it, but it has also lost key players as well. Most recently, catcher Cannon Peebles, who hit .352 with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBI last season, transferred to Tennessee. Though it lost a key young hitter, NC State was able to bolster its roster with a mix of experienced position players and pitching. The portal brought junior Bran- don Butterworth (Western Carolina), sophomore Josh Hogue (Santa Fe), and graduates Garrett Pennington (Wichita State) and Alec Makarewicz (East Caro- lina), all of whom are expected to make an impact in the infield this spring. NC State also added pitching, including se- nior Hollis Fanning (Tennessee) and sophomore Shane Van Dam, a Division III standout who fanned 43 batters in 29.1 in- nings last spring at the State University of New York at Cortland. Though the transfer portal has become a hot commodity T R A C K I N G THE THE PACK PACK Transfers And Freshmen Elevate NC State's Outlook On The Diamond Right-handed pitcher Chance Mako is part of a freshman class that was rated fifth in the country by D1 Baseball. COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS

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