The Wolfpacker

January 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 47 of 79

A By Bruce Winkworth fter reaching the NCAA Super Regionals last June, largely on the strength of the nation's best freshman class, NC State will begin 2013 with great expectations. The Wolfpack almost certainly will start the year with the highest preseason ranking in program history and will be heavy favorites to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. A trip to Omaha, Neb., and the College World Series would surprise no one. ■PREVIEW Baseball "This is a team that's going to be hunted," Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent admitted. "It's guys who were freshmen last year and were part of a great team, and now they're the nucleus of this team. We've got good players. We know we like to play, but it will be a whole different perspective this season." Former Wolfpack basketball coach Jim Valvano used to say that the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. That's bad news for NC State's opponents. Among Wolfpack position players a year ago, freshmen batted .300 with 50 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs, 125 RBI and 83 steals. On the mound, Wolfpack freshmen were 18-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 65 appearances covering 2021⁄3 innings. And now they're sophomores. Lefthander Carlos Rodon (9-0, 1.57 ERA, 135 strikeouts in 1142⁄3 innings) and infielder Trea Turner (.336, five home runs, 43 RBI, 72 runs and a school-record 57 steals in 61 attempts) are returning All-Americans. Rodon was a consensus first-team AllAmerican, National Freshman of the Year, 2 3 12 By The Numbers NCAA regionals hosted at Doak Field at Dail Park in the last five years. Freshman All-Americans — Carlos Rodon,Trea Turner and Jake Fincher — in last year's freshman class, which was easily the best in the nation. NCAA Tournament appearances in Elliott Avent's 16 seasons as head coach at NC State, including nine in the last 10 years. The Next Level The Pack Is Ready To Build On Last Season's Strong Showing ACC Pitcher of the Year and one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award. Both spent productive summers with Team USA. The Wolfpack's freshman class was more than Rodon and Turner, however. Rodon, Turner and catcher Brett Austin (.284, 17 doubles, 37 RBI) garnered most of the headlines in the preseason, but as the campaign unfolded, it was apparent that the Pack's freshman class was much deeper than anyone first thought. "I like to talk about the Logan Jernigans, the Logan Ratledges, the Jake Finchers and the other guys who contributed to our ballclub and didn't get the publicity, guys like Dillon Frye and Travis Orwig," Avent said. "Those guys did a great job for us. Ryan Wilkins was a junior college transfer and not a freshman, but he was part of that recruiting class and made a big impact. All in all, that class was pretty doggone good." The first order of business for Avent and his staff heading into 2013 will be replacing Chris Diaz, an All-American shortstop who batted .346 with 25 doubles and 56 RBI; right fielder Ryan Mathews, who batted .327 and hit 17 homers; and first baseman and captain Andrew Ciencin, who hit .278 with five homers and 36 RBI. Senior outfielder Tarran Senay (.222, six homers, 32 RBI) will shift to first base, and Key Dates To Watch At Virginia, March 22-24 — One of two critical road series against teams from the Coastal Division. After making the College World Series twice in three years, the Cavaliers went through something of a reloading season a year ago. They should be back strong in 2013. At Georgia Tech, April 19-21 — The other big non-division road series is in Atlanta against a Yellow Jackets team that struggled much of 2013 before rebounding to win the ACC championship. Solid recruiting should give the Jackets plenty of reinforcements. North Carolina, April 26-28 — This is always a big series, but NC State will begin the season ranked in the national top 10 and as the favorite to win the ACC's Atlantic Division.The Tar Heels could be preseason No. 1 and favorites to win the Coastal. Enough said. Turner will move from third base to shortstop, his natural position. Senior second baseman Matt Bergquist (.222) returns and will battle Ratledge (.261) for the starting nod. Junior college transfers Jake Armstrong and Sam Morgan also are in the infield picture. One of those two figures to play third base, and both could see time at second as well. Fincher was a Freshman All-American in center field last year, so with the return of Brett Williams, who was injured on opening day 2012 and lost for the season, the Wolfpack has two capable center fielders, one of which will shift to left or right. Senior Bryan Adametz and redshirt freshman Brian Taylor also will be in the hunt for a corner spot in the outfield. Austin, who saw time behind the dish and in right field last season, will become the primary catcher, with freshman John Mangum in a reserve role. "I'm not saying we're going to be better offensively or defensively," Avent cautioned. "We lost Chris Diaz, Andrew Ciencin and Ryan Mathews, who were such a big part of our ballclub. But I believe this will be a very good everyday lineup." The story on the mound begins with Rodon, but does not end there. Jernigan (51, 5.71 ERA) excelled at times as a freshman, but was prone to bouts of wildness (35 walks, eight hit batters and 12 wild pitches in 52 innings). He was perhaps the most improved pitcher on the staff in the fall and is in line to start on Saturdays. The final spot in the weekend rotation should go to senior Ethan Ogburn (5-4, 3.38 ERA), who doesn't have the electric stuff of Rodon or Jernigan, but consistently throws two pitches for strikes, which is gold on Sundays, when most pitching staffs are badly depleted. The bullpen, a question mark heading into 2012, now has depth. Chris Overman (0-1, 2.91 ERA, six saves) and Wilkins (5-2, 5.09 ERA, one save) anchor the late innings. Danny Healey (4-0, 3.29 ERA) and Anthony Tzamtzis (5-5, 4.38 ERA) are veterans who can start or relieve. D.J. Thomas is a versatile third-year left-hander. Frye (3-0, 2.70 ERA, one save) and Orwig (1-1, 2.19 ERA) both emerged as middle relief options as freshmen. Williams wasn't the only key performer to miss 2012. Grant Sasser and Josh Easley both sat out the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In his last healthy season (2010), the left-handed Sasser was Left-hander Carlos Rodon was a consensus first-team All-American, National Freshman of the Year and ACC Pitcher of the Year last season after going 9-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 1142⁄3 innings. photo courtesy nc state media relations 48  ■  the wolfpacker 48-50.Baseball Preview.indd 48 12/11/12 2:36 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - January 2013