The East Carolina softball team will kick-off the 2019 season on Friday when it takes on Youngstown University, University of Miami Ohio, Towson University and University of South Carolina Upstate in the Spartan Classic in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The tournament will be held in Upstate’s Cyrill Stadium where the Pirates will play a total of five games in three days. Their first opponent of the season will be the Youngstown Penguins, who the Pirates have not faced since the 2017 season when they won in a nine inning affair by a score of 5-4.
Returning for the Pirates and slated to build off her strong 2018 season is sophomore outfielder Tyler King. Last year, King paced the Pirates in batting average (.282), hits (53) and with 13 multi-hit games while starting 55 games. Additionally, King posted a solid .335 slugging percentage while at the same time collecting 12 runs batted in (RBI) and six stolen bases in nine attempts.
The Pirates, who went 8-13 in the American Athletic Conference last season and 23-32 overall, will face the Miami RedHawks in two of their five games in the Spartan Classic. Miami is coming off a 24-25 season, which included an 11-14 record in Mid-American Conference play.
Sandwiched between two match-ups with Miami is a contest against Towson. ECU faced Towson twice in 2018, winning both games by a score of 4-3. In those games, King collected three hits in seven trips to the plate with redshirt junior infielder Tate McClellan adding two hits, two RBI and two walks in five plate appearances. Additionally, junior outfielder Olivia Narron contributed three knocks, a run and a stolen base in two games.
McClellan, who will be moving into a leadership role with the Pirates as an upperclassman this season, led the team in slugging percentage (.553) and was second in team batting average (.278) while starting in 52 games last season. In addition, McClellan added 42 base knocks, 10 home runs and 34 RBI. With those round-trippers, McClellan will be the only returning Pirate to have hit at least 10 in 2018.
McClellan accumulated those numbers playing primarily as the Pirates’ designated hitter. In that role, she collected 34 starts and another 15 at third base. McClellan was also honored as the AAC Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 19.
Returning for her fourth season as head coach, Courtney Oliver led the Pirates to a 23-32 season last year. Having previously coached at North Carolina State University for three years, she will now be coaching her seventh year of NCAA Division I softball.
With a fresh new face amongst the coaching staff, Ellie Cooper joins the Pirates this season as an assistant coach alongside Jessica Hirschbuhl, who will be entering her fourth season with the program as assistant coach. Coaching at first base, Cooper was a key asset to the Florida State University program as she helped coach them to their first National Championship title win in 2018.
Oliver will have at her disposal three freshmen from ECU’s 2018 signing class. Freshman outfielder Faith Jarvis, freshman infielder Bailey Ledvina and freshman infielder Keira Womack will be getting their first taste of collegiate softball this year. Both Jarvis and Womack appeared among the top-200 recruits, according to FloSoftball at the time of their signing. The Pirates will take on Youngstown on Friday at 1 p.m. to start off the season.