Well, college baseball is starting up again. Yeah, I know, baseball is not important until Omaha, but down here in Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s starting to become a big deal. Why is it important now, you ask? It just so happens that other, forgotten team on Tobacco Road, N.C. State, is ranked Number 2 in the country by ESPN.
Of course, our friends Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner help, but we’ll look at that later. The squad had gotten props after last year’s run to Omaha, where they lost to UCLA, who eventually won the College World Series. This year’s team has its highest preseason ranking ever. Let’s take an in-depth look.
As I said, Turner and Rodon play no small role in this team’s development. Both were named first-team All-America for the second straight year. Rodon’s great pitching, and Turner’s not-too-shabby hitting, both stand out, and they’re considered top prospects for the MLB draft. Rodon, the top pitching prospect, is a lefty with a 93-95 mph fastball and a great slider, who can strike out most batters he sees. Turner, a little lower in the draft ranks at Number 4, offers great athleticism, bat speed, and running speed. Hassled by an ankle injury for most of last year, we’ll see how Turner does now that he’s recovered.
While Elliot Avent may not be Ray Tanner (who also coached the Wolfpack), he is the winningest coach in N.C. State baseball history. Avent, entering his 18th season with the Wolfpack, has turned N.C. State into one of the best and most consistent programs in the nation. He has taken the Pack to the NCAA tournament in 13 of his 17 seasons, winning the ACC and national coach honors in 2003. The Pack’s trip to Omaha last year was their first since 1968, and Avent did well with them. His long lists of achievements include 13 NCAA regionals, four Super regionals, 18 All-America players, and 75 players taken in the MLB draft. Therefore, overall, I think N.C. State has the only coach they need.
I know, this is corny, but it’s true. You don’t underestimate people and end up getting as close as they did to a national championship without heart. The superstars and coaches help, but it’s a team effort to do it all. This State team has great help in players such as Brett Austin, Jake Fincher, and can win it all in my opinion. For example, a snowstorm blew through Raleigh and the field was completely covered when a game was coming up on Saturday. The team gathered and tried to take the snow off the field to play, but to no avail. With this passion to play, I say they win it all this year. Good luck to the team.