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Top quotes from Elliot Avent’s preseason presser, and reading between the lines

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Elliot Avent sat in with the media for a preseason interview. He touched on last year, he dove into this year’s roster, and while he didn’t give us the “We’re out for revenge!” quotes we all wanted, between the lines you can see that this is a guy who is laser-focused on getting back to the College World Series and taking back what was rightfully his. (Watch the full interview here from The Wolfapcker’s YouTube channel)

Key Quotes:

On putting last year behind him and moving on…
“I never put anything behind me, so that’s a long way from being behind me. Trust me.”

On if the team is ready to get started on a new season…
“Players are always ready to get started. You know, you like to play the game. It’s kind of like Allen Iverson said:  “Practice? I mean, Really?” Guys want to play, that’s what we all love to do.”

On the talent he has on this team (which he segwayed into a comment about starting freshmen)…
“We’ve got some guys who are very talented. I was just sitting there talking to Brett Austin, and you talk about “Hey, we’re probably gonna have a freshman starting behind the plate, a freshman starting at shortstop, and then we lost possibly as good a centerfielder as NC State has ever had in Tyler McDonough last year and so you’ve got a new guy in centerfield.”

On his talented starting rotation…
“Just to see Canaan Silver, David Harrison, obviously you mentioned Sam, and Matt Willadsen, and Chris Villaman. It gives you some reassurance. I’ll be honest with you.”

On dealing with the COVID forfeit from last year’s College World Series…
“Never talk about it, never discuss. It’s not talked about by players, it’s not talked about by me.”…”So we never discuss it, but do I think about it? Constantly. It will never get too far away from me and I’ll never forget it.”

On using last year’s CWS COVID forfeit as motivation for this year…
“I don’t take any motivation from anything that has wronged me in the past. I don’t believe in chips on my shoulder. I’m not a guy that believes in that kind of stuff .. you know, revenge. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”

On the expectations of Matt Willadsen…
“I don’t ever try to get expectations too high for anybody. I think that’s a bar you shouldn’t give people. But Matt Willadsen, I told him the other day, about a week ago, we were sitting in the dugout, I just said… “Matt, how proud I am of you.”… He has grown so much. Last year, he and Chris Villaman grew up during the season as much as I’ve ever seen two players mature during the season. They were good, but they went to great.”

On Sam Highfill’s arm angle…
“Yeah, I’ve seen it and it’s very effective. A lot of people don’t do it. I’m surprised more people don’t do it. You’ve got to have a certain amount of athleticism to do it. It’s not easy to repeat your delivery. It’s not an easy thing. Now you’re having two deliveries, so it’s kind of like a switch hitter. You don’t see as many switch hitters today as you used to.”

On the new field renovations…
“I can’t wait. This has been a dream of not only mine, right, but every player who has ever played here, every coach before me…”

On Devonte Brown…
“Devonte Brown’s just a winner. You can sum it up pretty easy. He’s just a winner. And the leadership, I told him on several occasions this fall… ‘You and JT stayed back behind.’… They could have signed too. They could have both left this program, and with all your players leaving, all your friends leaving, it’s easy to leave as well. They made a commitment to stay here, and their leadership has been unbelievable this fall, carrying over into the spring. And we’re going to need their leadership.”

—-

Our take on the interview is that Avent thinks he has great leadership and a ton of talent. He is also excited about his freshmen. He keeps saying that he’s not discussing last season’s ending and he’s not using it for motivation but read between the lines and it’s apparent that it’s fueling him inside. He says there’s no chip on his shoulder, but at the same time, he says he thinks about it daily and he’ll never forget. You gotta love it. This is a killer’s mentality. Don’t let your opponent see any sign of weakness. Don’t let them know what’s bothering you. Don’t let it be a distraction for your team, but deep down inside, you are driven to do it again. Prove that no matter how many times they do you wrong, you’ll always get back up and take what’s rightfully yours.  It’s why I have been and always will be ‘Team Avent.’

A pasta eatin', Wolfpack lovin' loudmouth from Raleigh by way of New Jersey. Jimmy V and Chuck Amato fanboy. All opinions are my own and you're gonna hear'em.

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NC State Baseball

Recapping #13 NC State’s Season Opening Series Win Over VCU

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This past weekend, #13 NC State won 2 out of 3 against VCU, winning their first series of the 2024 season. Let’s breakdown what we saw opening weekend.

Starting Pitching

Two out of three of the Wolfpack’s starters pitched well on opening weekend.

Senior Sam Highfill pitched 5 innings, and gave up only 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 6, picking up his first win of the 2024 season. The 5 walks were less than ideal. Considering the fact that Highfill threw 79 pitches, if he could have eliminated the walks, there’s the chance he could have gone 6 or 7 innings. All things considered, this was a great start to the season for Highfill, who primarily pitched out of the bullpen in 2023. After serving as a Starter in 2021 and 2022, Highfill only started in 6 of the 22 games he pitched in last year, posting an ERA of 4.83. Here’s to hoping his outing this weekend points to a return to form, when he posted a 3.66 ERA in 2021, with a 9-2 record.

True Freshman Ryan Marohn was sensational in his collegiate debut on Sunday, giving up 0 earned runs in 5 innings, while striking out 8. He gave up 2 hits and walked 3. After being drafted in the 20th round of the 2023 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Guardians, Marohn opted to come to NC State. After losing Matt Willadsen to injury, seeing Marohn pitch like this in his first start is extremely encouraging.

Sophomore Dominic Fritton struggled on Saturday, surrendering 6 runs (5 earned) in 4.1 innings pitched, while striking out 4. Fritton only walked 1 batter, which is an encouraging note from his 2024 debut. There is no need to panic. Fritton was fabulous in 2023, posting a 3.59 ERA as a Freshman. He earned First Team Freshman All-American honors by D1Baseball last year, and earned preseason 3rd Team All-American honors this year.

Relief Pitching

Sophomore Shane Van Dam lived up to the hype in his NC State debut on Friday night, closing things out after Highfill left the game. Van Dam picked up the Save, after pitching 4 scoreless innings, striking out 5, while walking 2. The Wolfpack picked up Van Dam in the Transfer Portal from Courtland, which is a Division III school, where he also played Quarterback on the Football team.

Even though Fritton gave up 6 runs (5 earned), it was Senior Logan Whitaker who picked up the Loss, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) in 3.2 innings. Whitaker struck out 3, while walking none.

Senior Hollis Fanning, who transferred in from Tennessee this offseason, struggled in his debut on Sunday, giving up 3 hits and 2 earned runs in 1 inning on Sunday in the Wolfpack’s 5-3 win.

Freshman Jaxon Lucas also gave up a run in his 1.2 innings pitched on Sunday. That run came on a home run, which was the only hit he surrendered. He did manage to strike out 3 in his collegiate debut. According to Perfect Game, Lucas was the #8 overall prospect in the state of North Carolina in the 2023 class, and the #117 player nationally.

Freshman Jacob Dudan was lights out opening weekend, giving up 0 runs in 2 appearances (Saturday and Sunday), striking out 2 in 2.1 innings, while only surrendering 1 hit. Dudan picked up the Save on Sunday.

Hitting

The first 5 batters in the Wolfpack lineup were the same in all three games.

  1. SR RF Noah Soles
  2. SO CF Eli Serrano III
  3. SR 1B Garrett Pennington
  4. JR C/DH Jacob Cozart
  5. SR 3B Alec Makarewicz

Junior Shortstop Brandon Butterworth also started in all three games. In two of the games he was in the #9 spot, and he hit out of the #8 spot in 1 game.

Junior Jacob Cozart is hitting .333 coming out of opening weekend, with 3 hits, 1 home run, 2 RBI and 4 runs. His batting average is the highest of any of the 3-game starters. Also, Cozart’s plate discipline was impressive, drawing 5 walks. Cozart was named to a handful of Preseason All-American teams, and is considered a possible 1st round pick this summer.

Soles and Pennington both picked up 4 hits, which is tied for the most on the team. They both boast .308 batting averages after the first 3 games. All 4 of Pennington’s hits were singles, while 2 of Soles’ hits were home runs. Pennington transferred in from Wichita St., where he had 15 bombs last season, so we know he has pop.

Makarawicz, who transferred in from East Carolina, had 3 RBI’s, which was tops on the team this weekend. He had 3 hits of his own, with 2 of them going for extra bases (1 2B & 1 HR).

Freshman Alex Sosa proved it might be hard to keep him out of the lineup this season, despite the fact Jacob Cozart is locked in at Catcher, and hitting cleanup. Sosa caught one game, and was the Designated Hitter in another game. He picked up 3 hits in 7 at bats (.429), collecting 2 RBI’s and 2 walks. Sosa was the #99 overall prospect nationally in the 2023 recruiting class according to Perfect Game, and the #8 Catcher.

Freshman Luke Nixon entered the season with a lot of buzz, but Sophomore Matt Heavner ended up getting the start at 2nd Base in 2 of the 3 games, and capitalized on the opportunity. He picked up 3 hits in 9 at bats (.333), with 2 of them going out of the park. Nixon was solid in his 1 start, going 2 for 3, with 1 RBI and a walk.

Redshirt Freshman Drew Lanphere played in 2 games, starting 1 (DH), and picked up 2 hits in 5 at bats (.400), with 1 RBI, 1 Run and 1 Walk.

The 3 batters who underperformed this weekend were Butterworth, Serrano III, Sophomore Josh Hogue (JUCO Transfer) and Junior Chase Nixon. Butterworth hit .222, while striking out 3 times. Serrano III did pick up 3 hits, but batted .214. There’s no need to worry about Serrano III. He earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team last year.

There was a debate on who would be the Wolfpack’s starting Left Fielder this year: Hogue or Nixon. Hogue got the start in 2 of the 3 games on opening weekend. Neither one performed all that well at the plate. Hogue was 2 for 9, but did have 2 RBI’s. Nixon was 0-3.

 

 

 

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NC State Baseball

Elliott Avent Wins 1,000th Game as NC State’s Head Coach

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NC State defeated VCU 5-3 this afternoon, giving Elliott Avent his 1,000th win as the Wolfpack’s Head Coach.

Avent is the 5th active Division I head coach with 1,000 wins at one school, joining Danny Hall (Georgia Tech), Keith Guttin (Missouri State), John Anderson (Minnesota) and Gary Gilmore (Coastal Carolina). If you include inactive coaches, Avent is only the 35th coach in College Baseball history to win 1,000 games at a single school.

Back in 1997, Avent led NC State to a 6-0 win over Charleston Southern for his first victory as the Wolfpack’s head coach. This afternoon, 28 years later, Avent picked up win number 1,000.

Congrats Coach!

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NC State Baseball

NC State Starting Pitcher Matt Willadsen Out Indefinitely With Elbow Injury

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With 9 days until the first game of the 2024 season, NC State’s Baseball team received a devastating blow today, with news breaking that Senior Starting Pitcher Matt Willadsen is out indefinitely with an elbow injury.

Willadsen was the Wolfpack’s Saturday Starter in 2023, leading the team in innings pitched (81) and strikeouts (86). His 3.78 ERA ranked 2nd amongst the Wolfpack’s Starters.

His 45 career starts rank 5th in school history, and his 260 strikeouts rank 9th.

With the extent of the injury unknown at this point, hopefully it isn’t season ending.

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NC State Baseball

USAToday Includes NC State in Their 2024 College Baseball Preseason Top-25

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USAToday has released their 2024 College Baseball Preseason Top-25, and NC State is ranked 16th.

(USAToday)

ACC Teams in the Top-25

1) Wake Forest
9) Clemson
11) UVA
14) Duke
15) UNC
16) NC State

NC State will also play East Carolina (#12) twice and Coastal Carolina (#18) once.

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