GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina’s 2021-22 baseball recruiting class has garnered a No. 26 national ranking by Collegiate Baseball, the publication announced Tuesday. It marks the second ranking for the Pirates’ class as they were listed in the Top 35 by Baseball America in mid-September.
“Each year Coach (Jeff) Palumbo and our entire coaching staff work tirelessly to bring in players who are talented enough to help us compete for a national championship, while at the same time being the right fit for our culture,” said eighth-year head coach Cliff Godwin. “We are excited to develop this group into being the best versions of themselves and to help us compete at the highest level on and off the field.”
The 2021-22 recruiting class consists of four infielders (Quinn Allen, Landon Howard, Jacob Jenkins-Cowart and Henry Zipay), two outfielders (Carter Cunningham and Luke Nowak), two catchers (Ayden Edwards and Ryan McCrystal) and nine pitchers (Merritt Beeker, Charlie Hodges, Jake Hunter, Jordan Little, Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman, Erik Ritchie, Ben Terwilliger, Jaden Winter and Trey Yesavage).
Godwin, a three-time American Athletic Conference Coach-of-the-Year honoree, has guided ECU to five NCAA Regional berths (2018, 2019 and 2021 Greenville Regional host), three Super Regional appearances, a pair of AAC regular season and tournament titles with an overall record of 258-130-1 (.665). Sixteen players have earned All-America status, while 15 were NCAA All-Regional selections, 23 were named all-conference (18 first-teamers) and 14 were drafted by Major League Baseball teams.
The Pirates, who posted a 44-17 record in 2021, return 25 players including Freshman All-America selections C.J. Mayhue (2020), Zach Agnos (2021) and Josh Moylan (2021) along with AAC All-Conference performers Jake Kuchmaner (2019) and Bryson Worrell (2021). In all, the roster consists of 13 freshmen, 19 sophomores, five juniors and five seniors.
The new players and the veteran members, who began classes on Aug. 23 and individual workouts shortly afterwards, will scrimmage every Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning Oct. 1 at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium leading up to their annual Purple & Gold World Series, which will be held Nov. 5-7 (times to be determined). Admission is free of charge to all fans.
Godwin also announced Tuesday a pair of fall games against Liberty (home on Oct. 24, time TBA) and Virginia (road on Oct. 30, time TBA) as well as the annual Meet The Pirates event following the final game of the Purple & Gold World Series on Nov. 7.
What Baseball America Says About ECU’s Recruiting Class
“ECU, coming off its second straight super regionals appearance, brings a strong class to Greenville that’s especially impactful on the mound. New pitching coach Austin Knight, promoted after Jason Dietrich was hired away to be the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, will build the core of future Pirates staffs around left-handers Merritt Beeker and Erik Ritchie and right-handers Jake Hunter, Jordan Little, Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman and Trey Yesavage.
“Yesavage offers significant upside. His fastball has already reached 96 mph and he’ll get to that velocity (and possibly more) with more consistency as he continues to develop and hone his skill set on the mound. Little also has a projectable look at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds with a low-90s fastball. Beeker is perhaps the most advanced of the newcomers on the mound. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he has good pitchability. Hunter has a strong frame and pounds the strike zone with his three-pitch mix. Lunsford-Shenkman has some upside as well, combining a physical build at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds with a solid three-pitch mix, including a fastball that gets into the low 90s. Ritchie has a projectable build but already has a good feel for pitching, giving him upside if he grows into more velocity.
“Catcher Ryan McCrystal has a strong left-handed swing and has solid power potential. He has a strong arm and could soon take over behind the plate for the Pirates. He has experience as a pitcher as well and can run his fastball into the low 90s, but he’s more likely to make an impact at ECU as a catcher. Outfielders Cade Cunningham and Luke Nowak add serious speed to the class. Cunningham, a junior college transfer who began his college career at Gardner-Webb, is a plus runner and this spring stole 32 bases for Florida Southwestern State. Nowak has top-of-the-scale speed and a quick left-handed swing. First baseman Jacob Jenkins-Cowart adds another powerful left-handed bat to the class.”