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Media Day previews spring sports

By Dan Kelly
Assistant Sports Editor

The head coaches from the spring sports spoke at Media Day on Jan. 31 and outlined the outlooks for their respective seasons.

Baseball

The UNCP Baseball team will rely greatly on its six five-year seniors if they are going to be successful in the recently realigned Peach Belt Conference, after coming off a 31-23 overall record last season.

Head coach Paul O'Neil expects his position players to be the strength of the team through scoring plenty of runs and playing solid defense.  O'Neil, though, sees his inexperienced pitching as an unknown and its development over the season is critical.

The schedule will be difficult, as it is stacked with 20 ranked opponents just in the preseason.

"On purpose, we do not try to shy away from anybody and we try to play the most competitive schedule we possibly can," O'Neil said.

The non-conference schedule is also a focus for O'Neil, as it is comprised of nearly all North Carolina teams and provides an opportunity to develop rivalries and open up recruitment opportunities.

Golf

The UNCP golf team will look to continue its success in the spring, after winning a tournament and having two other top-five finishes in the fall.

Head coach David Synan hopes to repeat the success of the team from last year that made it to the NCAA Regional Tournament, which will be held at Rocky River this season.

"We have a lot of good vibes and memories at Rocky River, (but) we've got to get there first," Synan said.

Synan also said any course that may have previously given the team trouble all comes down to having the right mindset.

Softball

The UNCP softball team will come off its 31-20 record last season with a new offensively minded look, after the injury of pitcher Nicole McCorkle, head coach Steve Johnson said. 

"A lot of it's going to depend on our pitchers when you lose 12.3 outs a game that one person gets, it makes a difference," Johnson said.

But the team has reason to be optimistic as the Peach Belt realignment has led to the creation of two extra spots in the PBC tournament, and the loss of tournament mainstays North Florida and Kennesaw State.

Track and Field

The men's and women's track and field teams’ hopes for success will fall to the mix of upper and lower classmen, which head coach Larry Rodgers believes will provide good depth.

In terms of the individual events, the Braves hope to have at least four contenders spread across the team that will compete for the NCAA Division II Nationals.

"The strength of our team this year is going to be middle distance and distance runners," coach Rodgers said.

Tennis

The UNCP women's tennis team will certainly have experience on its side with four returning players from last year's team.

"We have a lot of experience, we know what we are up against in the Peach Belt and I really think that's going to benefit us inside and outside the Peach Belt," head coach Robin Langley said.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke The print edition of The Pine Needle
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Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
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