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N.C. State Baseball Returns

March has arrived, and that means baseball is back! Expectations are always high when it comes to the pack 9, and this year is no different. Elliott Avent is in his 25th season as the skipper in Raleigh, and he won his 1000th game less than 2 weeks ago. That is a lot of wins anyway you slice it. He has built a solid program, and has produced some major talent in guys like Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner.

The Pack 9 is ranked in all the major polls, with 14th being the lowest, and 21st being the highest. Baseball is totally different than the other major college sports in that there isn't one poll, but rather several independent polls. The ACC as usual, is a very good baseball conference this year. No matter which poll you choose to look at, the general consensus is that Wake Forest is ranked number 1. They are very good, and so far they have done nothing to prove the experts wrong. Other ACC teams that are ranked include Clemson, Virginia, UNC, and Duke. These teams are ranked higher than NC State in most of the polls, but that really isn't something to be concerned about. Baseball has a very different dynamic than the other big sports. Even in the majors the best teams lose more than 25 percent of their games. Ranking college baseball teams is way less cut and dried than basketball or football. There are so many things that have to come together for a successful season, and that makes predicting baseball success only slightly more reliable than the Farmers Almanac. The season is long as well, so avoiding injuries and managing the pitching staff are very important.

The pack 9 has developed a reputation over the years for its offensive firepower, but this years team has one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league. Matt Willadsen and Dominic Fritton will both be key starters along with transfer Shane Van Dam. This should be a very solid nucleus to build around. Logan Whitaker and Sam Highfill and Hollis Fanning, a Tennessee transfer, will all figure prominently in relief. If this staff stays healthy, the Wolfpack could be in a great position come postseason time.

Offensively, Avent has had to replace 75% of last year's home run production, as well as 4 of his top five most productive hitters. There will still be plenty of firepower in the form of Jacob Cozart, Eli Serrano 111, and many others. The Wolfpack did lose a significant amount of firepower to the dreaded transfer portal, but were also able to bring in some very valuable talent as well. With the bad taste of the 2021 college World Series still lingering, you can never count out the pack 9. Its a very exciting brand of baseball, so if you get the chance, head out to Doak Field and cheer on the Wolfpack. You can also listen to many of the games on the varsity app. Let's make a return trip to Omaha and bring back what we should have in 2021!



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