GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina baseball team received its second preseason Top 30 ranking of the season Sunday when they were tabbed No. 22 by Perfect Game.
The Pirates, who made their third NCAA Regional Final appearance under head coach Billy Godwin in 2011 after posting a 41-21 record, also garnered a No. 26 ranking by College Baseball Lineup formerly Ping!Baseball back on January 14 and have received votes in the Collegiate Baseball, USA Today/ESPN and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) polls.
Coming off its 11th NCAA Regional appearance in the last 13 seasons, ECU welcomes back 22 letterwinners including 2011 Second-Team All-Conference USA performers Kevin Brandt and Zach Wright. Joining Brandt and Wright are All C-USA performers Ben Fultz (freshman team/ '11), Chase McDonald (freshman team/ '11), Corey Thompson (second-team/ '10 and all-tournament/ '11), Jack Reinheimer (freshman team/ '11) and John Wooten (freshman team/ '11). The trio of Fultz, McDonald and Wooten were also named to the Charlottesville All-Regional Team a year ago.
Also stepping onto the diamond are 12 new faces, which consist of junior college transfers Jay Cannon (Brunswick), Jharel Cotton (Miami Dade), Sam King (Eastern Oklahoma State) and Andy Smithmyer (Potomac State), as well as eight true freshmen: John Allen, Tyler Bolton, Dylan Dickens, Ryan Gupton, Jeff Hoffman, DeShorn Lake, David Lucroy and Nick Thompson.
With less than a week remaining until ECU opens the 2012 season against UW Milwaukee (Feb. 17 at 3 p.m.), several Pirate opponents have also garnered national rankings in the preseason polls:
Baseball America: Rice (No. 6), North Carolina (No. 9) and UCF (No. 21).
College Baseball Lineup: Rice (No. 4) and North Carolina (No. 6).
Collegiate Baseball: North Carolina (No. 4), Rice (No. 7), Louisville (No. 15), Southern Miss (No. 30) and UCF (No. 36).
NCBWA: North Carolina (No. 3), Rice (No. 8), Louisville (No. 25), UCF (No. 28) and Southern Miss (No. 29).
Perfect Game: Rice (No. 4), North Carolina (No. 5), Louisville (No. 21) and UCF (No. 27).
USA Today/ESPN: North Carolina (No. 4), Rice (No. 7) and Louisville (No. 24).