The Wolfpacker

January 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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3-4 with a 3.56 ERA and five saves. Easley was 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA in 2011. Both have experience starting and relieving, and both could make a big impact. "Pitching depth is where we feel we've improved the most," Avent said. "You can never have enough good pitching, but the depth of our staff puts us in a better position. We have numbers this year and a lot of experience coming back." The expectations facing NC State this spring are quite realistic. Expectations are one thing. The Wolfpack still has to transform expectations into results. "We have to put the pieces together in the right places," Avent said. "Everybody remembers how well we played last year, but we haven't forgotten Chris Diaz, Ryan Mathews, Andrew Ciencin, Vance Williams, all the contributions those guys made. They have to be replaced. "I think we're in a position to get that done, but you have to get it done on the field." ■ Noting The Pack • NC State got a huge boost a year ago from its recruiting class, easily the best in school history and the best in the nation for 2012. This season, the Pack figures to benefit from veteran players returning from injuries. In particular, left-hander Grant Sasser, right-hander Josh Easley and outfielder Brett Williams are back in 2013 after missing last season. Williams will probably slide right back into the lineup in center field, while Sasser and Easley should play pivotal roles in the bullpen. "Those three certainly would have played key roles a year ago," Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent said. "I hope they will this year instead." • The first four games of the season will be against teams coached by former Avent assistant coaches, and six of the first eight games will be against teams that have some tie to Avent. Billy Jones, an assistant at NC State from 2002-04, takes over as head coach at Appalachian State in 2012 after eight seasons as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers open the season at Doak Field at Dail Park the weekend of Feb. 15-17. After Appalachian State, the Wolfpack will host Villanova (Feb. 22). The Wildcats are coached by Joe Godri, an assistant under Avent at New Mexico State from 1994-96. Just to make it a full circle for Avent and staff, the Wolfpack will host New Mexico State for a pair of midweek games Feb. 26-27. Avent was head coach at NMSU from 1989-96.The Aggies now are coached by Rocky Ward, son of former Oklahoma State head coach Gary Ward, for whom NC State associate head coach and pitching coach Tom Holliday worked from 1978-96 at Oklahoma State. Gary Ward is an assistant coach for the Aggies. • Speaking of the schedule, NC State will play at Boston College the weekend of April 12-14. Those planning to attend should take warm and waterproof outerwear for the early April weather. The Pack played series at BC the first weekend of April in 2007 and 2009 and the weather was unpleasant both times. In 2009, North Carolina was scheduled to play at Chestnut Hill, Mass., the weekend after NC State was there, but the entire UNC-BC series was snowed out. Newcomers To Watch Sophomore Jake Armstrong, INF A first-team junior college All-American shortstop at Cisco (Texas) College a year ago, Armstrong batted .446, hit 22 doubles, four triples and six home runs, and drove in 50 runs in 54 games. He can play second base, third base and shortstop. Junior Sam Morgan, INF Morgan batted .330 with nine doubles, four homers and 35 RBI at South Florida Community College. He was one of the Wolfpack's toughest outs in the fall. Morgan is capable of playing second, third and shortstop. Freshman Brad Stone, LHP The Charlotte left-hander showed in the fall that he is capable of making a solid early contribution. A 35th-round pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 MLB Draft, Stone has a plus arm but will need to finetune his command. ■ Key Players To Watch In his freshman campaign, sophomore infielder Trea Turner batted .336, scored a team-high 73 runs and stole a school-record 57 bases on his way to third-team All-America honors. photo by ken martin Sophomore Trea Turner, INF Turner was one of the top freshmen in the nation last season. He batted .336, belted 13 doubles, two triples and five homers, drove in 43 runs and scored a team-high 73 runs. He stole a school-record 57 bases. Turner was first-team All-ACC, a first-team Freshman All-American and a third-team All-American. Turner is probably the best and most intimidating offensive player in the ACC, and one of the top players in the country. Sophomore Brett Austin, C A supplemental first-round draft pick out of Providence High School in Charlotte, Austin began his college career as NC State's most anticipated freshman ever, but was overshadowed by Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner. Austin batted .284 with 17 doubles, a triple and 37 RBI last season, and he scored 49 runs and stole six bases. His numbers don't stand out next to Turner's or Rodon's, but are more than respectable, especially for a freshman in the ACC. Sophomore Logan Jernigan, RHP In terms of raw stuff, Jernigan rivals Carlos Rodon, but with nowhere near the polish. Jernigan was 5-1 last season, but he walked 35, hit eight and unloaded 12 wild pitches in 52 innings. He may have been the most improved pitcher on the staff in the fall, finding the strike zone much more consistently, and will begin the season as the team's Saturday starter. 50  ■  the wolfpacker 48-50.Baseball Preview.indd 50 12/11/12 2:37 PM

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