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February 15, 2013
Audio: Baseball ready for today's season opener
NC State baseball held a media day last Friday where coach Elliott Avent, as well as several players, met with the media to discuss the upcoming season, which opens today at 3 p.m. with a home game against Appalachian State. The Wolfpack is trying to build off of a 43-20 (19-11 ACC) season, in which they reached an NCAA Super Regional and fell just short of the school's first trip to the College World Series since 1968.
The Pack enters Avent's 17th campaign at the helm with a preseason ranking in the national polls of eighth, which is a program record, according to Baseball America. They are also listed at No. 9 by Perfect Game USA, and 11th by the USA Today Coaches' poll and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. A preseason vote of the ACC coaches tabbed NC State as the league favorite.
The Pack returns six starters in the field from last year, including preseason All-American Trea Turner (.336 average, 72 runs scored, 43 RBI, 57 stolen bases in 63 starts), a sophomore who will be moving from third base to shortstop. However, that is the position that Turner was recruited to play in Raleigh.
In addition, center fielder Brett Williams (.286 average, 46 runs scored, four triples, six home runs, 35 RBI in 2011), who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year's first game, is also back for his final campaign. He entered 2012 as the Pack's top returning positional player after starting 61 games two seasons ago, and he should give the top end of the Pack's lineup an immediate boost.
Other returning starters in the field include sophomore catcher Brett Austin (.284 average, 49 runs scored, 17 doubles, 37 RBI), senior second baseman Matt Bergquist (.222 average) and outfielders Tarran Senay (.222 average, 15 doubles, six home runs, 32 RBI), a senior, along with sophomores Logan Ratledge (.261 average, 25 runs scored, 11 doubles, 21 RBI) and Jake Fincher (.300 average, 35 runs scored, six triples, 23 RBI, 16 stolen bases). Fincher was an infielder for all of his life until last year, when he stepped in at center field for Williams and earned Freshman All-America honors.
NC State's group of hurlers is led by sophomore Carlos Rodon, the first Division I freshman to ever be named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and a consensus preseason first-team All-American. He is the ACC's reigning Pitcher and Freshman of the Year — the first player to ever win both laurels in the same campaign. He also earned National Freshman and Pitcher of the Year awards last season after he led the ACC in ERA (1.57), innings pitched (114.2), complete games (two) and opponent's batting average (.176), while he finished second in strikeouts (135), to go along with a perfect 9-0 record on the hill. Rodon even contributed from the plate, with two doubles in six at-bats, and he hopes to log even more plate appearances when he's not pitching this season.
Seniors Josh Easley (18 appearances and seven starts in 2011) and Grant Sasser (three saves in 16 appearances and four starts in 2011) also return from injury to join Rodon, seniors Ethan Ogburn (5-4 record and two saves, 3.38 ERA in 19 appearances), Chris Overman (six saves, 2.91 ERA in 28 appearances) and Ryan Wilkins (5-2 in 25 appearances), redshirt junior Anthony Tzamtzis (5-5 in 18 appearances) and sophomore Logan Jernigan (5-1 record in 14 appearances), to give the Pack a healthy stable of pitchers.
Full audio of what the players had to say at media day is below:
N.C. State NEWS