Different Path

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The time between a North Carolina baseball player's freshman and sophomore years usually entails summer leagues, workouts and maybe some extra classes. Benton Moss is taking a different path.

UNC's freshman pitcher will travel to Ethiopia this summer.

Moss, a Morehead-Cain scholar, will depart for the east Africa nation once the season ends. He will spend six and a half weeks abroad and return just four days before the start of the fall semester.

"I will be in a developed area. I'm going to be in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa," Moss said. "It's service. It's not any class or academic stuff. It's service based, so I think I'll be doing some stuff with a non-profit arm of an investment firm based in Raleigh, so that will be fun."

The Morehead-Cain scholarship, the most prestigious academic scholarship offered at North Carolina, will fund Moss's journey.

"I can't wait to hear about his trip," head coach Mike Fox said. "When he comes back it'll be great for him to sit down with all our players with pictures and journals and whatever else he keeps… I think it's a great thing, an awesome thing for him."

Moss, who intends to major in economics and business, finished up exams about a week ago. The Enfield, N.C. native completed Econ 400 as well as "some calculus classes," in this -- his second -- semester as a college student.

"UNC is one of the top, if not the top, public institute in the country, so it demanding to say the least," Moss said. "It just amazes me to watch the whole team buckle down, especially the last three weeks, because I know, personally, I lost a lot of sleep just from so much academic work the past few weeks preparing for exams."

When Moss is not traveling the world or hitting the books, he is a weekend starter for the Coastal Division-leading Tar Heels. In preparation for his start this weekend against Duke, Moss started and threw three innings of shutout ball in the Tar Heels' 4-2 win over UNCW Tuesday night. The Rocky Mount (N.C.) High product is now 5-2 on the season with a 2.44 ERA.

"Today I just wanted to go out and work on location and pounding the zone and I feel like I got some good work in," Moss told reporters following UNC's sixth straight victory.

To those looking from the outside, the balancing act between academics and baseball may appear daunting. The rigors of being a starting pitcher in the ACC in addition to the requirements of the most difficult classes offered at North Carolina certainly provides quite a challenge. But it's a challenge that Moss meets head on. "The kid makes a 4.0," Fox said of Moss. "He makes four ‘A's while playing his first college season -- four really tough classes," Fox exclaimed. "Incredible feat. Absolutely incredible feat."

According to Moss, being a starter helps him balance his time, because it adds certainty to his schedule. Bullpen pitchers are never sure when they will be called to the mound. However, Moss can plan his week out based on when he is scheduled to pitch.

With the academic year complete, he can now focus solely on baseball. "It's awesome; I was super excited for post-academic play… I knew we were going to be down here playing baseball or hanging out doing whatever, so it's the life," Moss said, smiling.

Even with all the free time, there are goals the Diamond Heels hope to achieve in the coming weeks and the freshman pitcher will undoubtedly play a large role as the postseason nears. Moss noted that he's certainly looking forward to catching up on his reading list and taking the trip to Ethiopia, but he is not in a hurry.

"Hopefully after a trip to Omaha" he said. "And a successful one at that."

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