NC State is a baseball school
Posted February 7
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State University is a baseball school.
Really, it is. Carlos Rodon, one of the nation’s top pitchers said so, and I will not argue the fact.
“If we don’t get back to Omaha, it’s a disappointment,” Rodon, the 6-foot-3 lefty from Holly Springs, said to follow up his assertion.
Consider the fact that NC State football and basketball have combined for a 17-17 record since the start of the school year. Last year, the Pack-9 only lost a total of 16 games against 50 wins and ventured westward to Omaha where they met their demise against rival North Carolina in the College World Series.
How high exactly are the expectations in Raleigh for 2014? Ask the players:
“We are hungry. We got a bitter taste in our mouth from last year,” said catcher Brett Austin. “Getting to the College World Series was a good accomplishment, but we want to get back and we want to win it.”
“It’s safe to say that if we don’t get back to Omaha, it’s pretty much a failure of a season,” Rodon reiterated.
“Last year we just wanted to make it there, this year we want to win it,” infielder Trea Turner added.
The tone of those statements is far different than football coach Dave Doeren’s “We are building a program” and basketball coach Mark Gottfried’s “We are growing together.” These players are carrying an all-or-nothing attitude.
But let’s slow down a little bit. NC State may be a top 10 team nationally in most preseason polls, but so are a handful of ACC opponents. Six from the ACC, including UNC and league-favorite Virginia can also carry high expectations according to the prognosticators.
What NC State has going for them is a lineup boasting 11 returning lettermen, three top-tier starters and multiple All-Americans. The questions lie with the bullpen and the possibility of starting two true freshmen on the infield.
“Rankings are harder to keep than they are to earn,” said head coach Elliot Avent. “We might have to do things a little differently this year than we did last season.”
Avent added that he may have his best team ever if things all play out and that Rodon, Turner and Austin will all wear the captains' “C” this year “for their leadership.”
State will feature just two seniors in 2014, and the trio of captains – all juniors – will also likely depart after this season.
The Wolfpack will also play one of the most challenging non-conference schedules the school has ever seen with a trip to UC Santa Barbara, a neutral-site game against UCLA and the round-about with the Carolina schools.
“You figure out your team as you go,” Avent said. “It’s going to be a trying schedule. I don’t think we will go undefeated, but I think when we get to the end of the schedule, you will see a team that is ready to go to Omaha. I don’t like to predict things, and this isn’t a prediction, but if we get there, there could be a parade in Raleigh."