The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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76 ■ THE WOLFPACKER polished veterans, while freshman fire- baller Dalton Feeney showed why he is NC State's most heralded pitching recruit since Carlos Rodon five years ago. Three other freshmen — James Ferguson, Mi- chael Bienlien and Matthieu Gauthier — pitched well in the fall. "We have some new guys that have shown a lot of promise," Avent said. "It'll be interesting as we try to put this thing together." NC State began three of the last four seasons ranked in the national top 10, and 2017 should make it four out of five. Because of the experience, balance and depth on hand this team has a chance — a chance, mind you — to be Avent's best at NC State. That's a mouthful, and just saying it won't make it happen. The con- ference is loaded, especially in the ACC's Atlantic Division, but the opportunity is there. "Whenever I start thinking about this league, it gives me a headache," Avent said. "I like to focus on my team. I know we're going to have to be really good, and we think we are pretty good. "We have a chance to be really good, but we have a lot of work to do to get there. A lot of work." ■ Junior left-handed pitcher Brian Brown has made 32 starts in his career, posting 14 wins and a 2.90 ERA. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Noting The Pack • Baseball America ranked NC State's 2016 recruiting class No. 17 in the nation, while D1Baseball rated it No. 25. The class was a strong one, but the late additions of right-hander pitcher Dalton Feeney and catcher Brad Debo made this class one of the nation's best. According to D1Baseball's Frankie Pilliere: "Arguably the strongest recruiting class NC State has had since they brought in Trea Turner and Carlos Rodon in 2011, this crop brought in by Chris Hart will add significant depth on the offensive side of things. This is a team that didn't lose much from last spring, so these hitters will get the proper amount of time to develop over the next couple years. They also brought in outstanding junior college depth on the pitching side of things." • Wolfpack junior shortstop Joe Dunand had a breakout summer with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League. Dunand batted .326 with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 24 RBI in a notoriously pitcher-friendly league, helping lead the Mariners to a 27-15 record and a first-place finish in the Cape League's East Division. D1Baseball listed Dunand as the Cape League's No. 10 prospect, and Baseball America had him at No. 8. • Assuming NC State is in the preseason top 10, it will mark the fourth time in the last five years that the Wolfpack has begun the season with that particular target on its back. Baseball America ranked State No. 6 in the preseason in 2013 and No. 8 a year later. D1Baseball rated the Wolfpack preseason No. 8 a year ago. ■ By The Numbers 19 Freshman All-Americans for NC State since 1984, including 11 since Elliott Avent became head coach in 1997. Junior left-handed pitcher Brian Brown was the Wolfpack's most recent in 2015. 15 NCAA Tournament appearances by the Wolf- pack in Avent's 20 seasons in Raleigh. That includes 12 berths in the last 14 seasons. 7 Times NC State advanced to the regional finals under Avent. 980 & 755 Total career victo- ries and victories at NC State by Avent, who has 28 years as a head coach under his belt, 20 of them with the Wolfpack. The watch for career win No. 1,000 should begin sometime in late March or early April. Newcomer To Watch Freshman catcher Brad Debo Brad Debo, a Durham, N.C., native who starred at nearby Orange High School, originally commit- ted to South Carolina, but he backed out of that pledge over the summer, joining prized right-hander pitcher Dalton Feeney as part of a two-headed Christmas in July present for Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent. One of the top hitters and catchers in the prep class of 2016, Debo should vie for playing time right away. As a senior at Orange last spring, he batted .446 with six doubles, two triples, five home runs and 23 RBI in 23 games. He had a .531 on-base percentage and slugged .830, earning high school All-America honors from Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball. NC State head coach Elliott Avent is 20 wins away from 1,000 for his career. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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