1/20/04: Coaches Corner Recap with Elliott Avent

This week's "Coaches Corner" at Playmaker's featured Men's Head Baseball Coach Elliott Avent.

Here are some of the key notes that Coach Avent discussed with the Wolfpack fans in attendance at Playmakers today.

- Coach Avent began by saying he and the players appreciated the tremendous fan support last season and can't wait to see the crowds show up at the new Doak Field. The following was great and it meant a lot to the team.

- The Wolfpack baseball program should be able to move into the new facilities within two weeks. Players will be able to use the locker room and the coaches can officially move into their offices.

- Opening day is February 13th, and the team will play its first home game at Doak Field. However, concession stands and restrooms will likely not be fully completed until sometime in March.

- The dimensions of the playing field have not changed much, although home plate has been moved towards left field by 30 feet. Engineers informed Coach Avent that the ball should still travel the same, and a 15-foot wall in left field has been installed.

- Avent said that in the near future he hopes that the left field wall will be expanded to about 30-feet, adding to the appeal of the stadium, allowing NC State to recruit pitchers effectively, and it should give the Wolfpack's every day left fielder an advantage on opposing teams' left fielders.

- Coach Avent supports a strong non-conference schedule but understands that with a tough and expanding ACC he really must manage the schedule. This year NC State has arranged home and away matchups with UCLA and San Diego State (where ex-MLB player Tony Gwynn coaches). Avent wants his players to get out and see the country, and games such as these allow them to do just that.

- Raleigh is an attractive location to host the NCAA regional tournaments, but winning games is the most important factor. If NC State wins ballgames then the regionals will come to Raleigh.

- Renovations at Doak Field have decreased seating from 3,000 to 2,400. Lifetime rights are now being sold for baseball season tickets to help pay for renovations.

- When asked about the outlook of this year's team, Coach Avent gave a direct answer: he doesn't know. The Wolfpack lost all of their offense from last season but return all of their pitching. The performance of NC State at the plate will go a long way to determining just how good they can be.

- Coach Avent did say that he feels the Wolfpack coaching staff is one of the best in the country, with this year being the first team that's fielded the NCAA limit of coaches. The coaches will do a great job developing and teaching the young players.

- Speaking of defections, NC State had 7 players drafted last year with 6 signing professional contracts. Underclassmen Joe Gaetti and Colt Morton join four Wolfpack seniors who are currently in various minor league systems.

- The lone draftee who returned was Wolfpack standout Pitcher Vern Sterry. Vern joins Michael Rodgers and Joey Devine to form a dynamite pitching staff, as each player was selected as All-Americans last season. It was the first time in ACC history that three pitchers from the same team were selected as All-Americans.

- Two players who may be hard to replace are the aforementioned Morton and shortstop Chad Orvella. Morton finished in the top 3 for the Johnny Bench award as the nation's top Catcher while Orvella was the team's MVP according to Coach Avent. Players will have to step up and replace these two leaders for the Wolfpack to be successful.

- In recruiting, the #1 priority is landing in-state talent, and the NC State coaches feel they are landing the best.

- Wolfpack signee Andrew Brackman is an outstanding prospect who may have a future in professional baseball, but reportedly his mother wants him in college and that's where he will likely end up. Brackman will also play basketball at NC State and comes from a great family.

- The baseball program now operates on 11.7 scholarships per year to field the maximum of 35 players. Injuries can be devasting but Coach Avent will not use that as an excuse.

- The playing surface at Doak Field has been terrific this entire time and remains the best in the country. Players who have come to Raleigh for baseball camps have left impressed with the surface at Doak.

- Coach Avent added that the facility improvements are nice and puts the Wolfpack on a comprable level with most other ACC programs and that's all you can ask for. Once placed on that level, you should be able to win games.

Those were some of the key notes from Head Baseball Coach Elliott Avent's luncheon at Playmakers. Next week, Men's Assistant Basketball Coach Mark Phelps will be the featured guest at the "Coaches Corner."

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