As the East Carolina University baseball team prepares to open the field on February 17, the Pirates’ 2023 preseason media day has passed and the preseason is upon us.

The event lasted an hour and a half, with interviews from the coaching staff and experienced players from the program. Various points of attention were addressed during the media day activities, such as pitching rotations, planning offensive plays, retooling, positional battles, recruiting, tech updates and injuries and the aftermath of Parker Byrd’s injury and recovery.

Head Coach Cliff Godwin kicked off the event with a press conference that lasted over 20 minutes. In his opening remarks, Godwin said it seems like ECU baseball is getting more and more attention every year. This culminates in the #11 ranking awarded to the Pirates by D1Baseball in their pre-season power rankings.

“Well, I woke up this morning and went, well, I don’t think there’s been a post that’s put us in the top ten.” Coach Godwin said. “I don’t buy into that stuff.”

He went on to reminisce about last year’s group and said the difficulties at the start of the season were due to a behind-the-scenes drama unknown to the public. Coach Godwin spoke on a host of topics, including how his coaching staff pulled together in his absence when he underwent knee surgery, pre-season updates, players to watch and his experience when he heard the news of Byrd’s injury.

Coach Godwin explained how he was with a rookie but had to walk away after receiving three consecutive phone calls about Byrd’s accident. Byrd was airlifted to Greenville Hospital and when the helicopter landed Coach Godwin said he was waiting outside the hospital. Since then, Byrd’s story has been a beacon for the Pirates to rally around.

“Seeing Parker Byrd arrive at the facility with a smile on his face and training when he can, if that doesn’t put it into perspective, I don’t know if you have a pulse,” said Coach Godwin. “He makes me better, he makes our team better. Obviously, it was a very tragic moment. But of all the people it could happen to, he took it the most positively. It’s not just affecting our team, it’s affecting people across the country in a positive way.

After Coach Godwin’s speech, pitching coach Austin Knight came on the microphone to talk about pitching rotation. The biggest update that was given was not to the players themselves, but to their technology. ECU has adopted the electronic clock system for calling pitches on the mound that was popularized by Vanderbilt University last season.

Coach Knight also discussed small ways to improve his team’s shooting and said finding what works for his program. The mentality is sink or swim for Coach Knight.

“You’re trying to learn new ideas, learn something new, that can only affect one pitcher on your staff,” Coach Knight said. “Player or coach, it doesn’t matter. This game is like everything in life. You always learn something or you stagnate.

Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Jeff Palumbo then spoke. Coach Palumbo discussed recruiting when the team used name, image, likeness, and how ECU is a program that won’t bow to compliance in its recruiting to be the highest bidder.

Alongside the recruitment, Coach Palumbo was asked about his decision to stay at ECU despite coaching offers elsewhere in a head coaching role. The ninth-year staff member got sentimental during the discussion, saying there were layers to the decision, but above all, it was the place.

“Really, at the end of the day, we’re extremely happy with what we’re doing here,” coach Palumbo said. “We haven’t necessarily achieved the goals we want to achieve here. It’s a piece of it. We came very close to going to Omaha and winning a national championship, and we strongly believe we can achieve those goals.

Finally, the players were made to speak. Leading them, fifth-year senior pitcher Carter Spivey came out to discuss the decision to return to ECU among other options and hone his pitching craft. Next, senior pitcher Garrett Saylor talked about his relationship with Spivey, the depth of the bullpen and adding a new pitch to his pitching toolbox.

After the senior pitchers spoke, junior infielder Alec Makarewicz spoke about his hitting. Last season, Makarewicz was a switch hitter, but this season he’s looking to focus his shots on the left.

Outfielder Jacob Jenkins-Cowart spoke about his role. This season, Jenkins-Cowart is expected to move from first base to center field where, according to coach Godwin, he is able to play more shallowly due to his long strides allowing him to drop deep at all times. He was also the only player to be asked about how the previous season ended, as he was one of the most vocal and emotional players in last year’s squad.

“We were so close,” Jenkins-Cowart said. “It hurt a lot last year. There were a lot of crucial plays that could have gone either way. It’s really now that we know we’re that caliber of team and know we can do it. do, it’s just a matter of breaking down that door.

Senior outfielder Lane Hoover brought up the energy in the room, joking lightly about how often he had cavities. Cuts and buntings became a big part of Hoover’s game. He said he worked there every day to let the guys behind him work.

Finally, junior first baseman Josh Moylan ended the conversation with a dialogue about how sweet this season was and remembering to have fun.

“It’s the most important thing for me, it’s a game I’ve always enjoyed playing and still enjoy playing.” Moylan said. “Just being able to go out and have fun is the most important thing.”

The Pirates will get their first chance to have fun on Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. when the team takes on George Washington University at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville, NC on Opening Day.

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