NC State Baseball 2016

So it’s that time of year again. Yep, I know it’s probably snuck up on most of you seeing how it’s still all wintry and stuff, but in only a couple of days the Pack9 kicks off the 2016 season.

And 2016 has the potential to be a pretty darned good year for baseball in Raleigh.

A year ago the Pack struggled at times, but still managed to come on strong down the stretch and ended up coming up just one game short of an ACC title. And while we will NOT discuss what happened in Fort Worth the following week (up yours, TCU), I will say that I’m confident the players have not forgotten how that felt either.

Onward and upward to 2016.

High Hopes

The Pack9 enters 2016 with a top ten pre-season ranking (#10). But as always, the ACC is not without a bevy of teams with high expectations. By division, this is a reasonable projected preseason expectation of pecking order coming into the season, with ranked teams shown in parenthesis:


  1. (2)Louisville
  2. (10)NC State
  3. (20)Florida State
  4. *Notre Dame
  5. *Clemson
  6. *Wake Forest
  7. Boston College


  1. (6)Miami
  2. (13)Virginia
  3. (16)North Carolina
  4. *Georgia Tech
  5. Duke
  6. Virginia Tech
  7. Pitt

*In addition to those with preseason rankings, ND and GT are likely strong enough in ’16 to dip in and out (at least) of the rankings as the season goes along, with Wake and Clemson likely in the hunt for NCAA Regional bids as well. In other words, as always, the Atlantic Division will be tough.  It will be interesting to see who sneaks up and who fails miserably.

The Schedule

State kicks things off on the road this Friday in the Baseball at the Beach event hosted by Coastal Carolina each year. The Pack opens up against Old Dominion on Friday, faces the host Chanticleers on Saturday, and wraps things up against Kent State on Sunday.

Next week, the Pack will stay busy, weather permitting, as they welcome Morehead State and St John’s to Raleigh for midweek single games on Tuesday and Wednesday, before welcoming Wright State to town for a weekend three gamer February 26-28.

Looking down the road to the ’16 conference season, the Pack will have their work cut out for them on the road this year as they will have to travel to face all of (2)Louisville, (13)UVa, (20)FSU, Clemson, and GT. On the other hand, the Pack’s home conference slate includes all of the fellow Big Four schools coming to Raleigh, along with ND and BC.

Full Schedule

The Team



Brian Brown

It’s no secret what the Pack needs from the pitching staff in ’16…better control. Throw strikes, limit the freebies. Often in ’15 they weren’t so good at doing that in crucial moments. But when they had command they were really good, and most of the pieces return for ’16. Joe O’Donnell(#42,JR,RHP) and Brian Brown(#38,SO,LHP) are expected to anchor the starting rotation.  Both had great years last year, with the frosh Brown garnering 1st team Freshman All-America honors.

The other regular spots are a little less clear. While big Johnny Piedmonte(#33,R-JR,RHP), whose fastball was up to the mid 90’s in fall ball, and Corey Wilder(#35,JR,RHP), whose control escaped him all too often last year (but he was nearly untouchable when he was on) will undoubtedly be in the mix, Evan Mendoza(#18,SO,RHP) or Austin Staley(#20,R-FR,RHP) might have something to say about it as well. Any of the four may also end up as important pieces in the bullpen.

In the bullpen, Tommy DeJuneas(#42,SO,RHP) will look to improve his command and build on his impressive frosh season. Always steady and reliable, Travis Orwig(#39,R-SR,LHP) and Will Gilbert(#51,SR,LHP) are both back as well. The Pack also welcomes lefty Sean Adler(#29,R-JR,LHP) to the pen this year, a USC transfer.


Logan Ratledge, who finally realized his potential and came on strong in ’16, is gone. And while just about everybody else of note is back, it will be no small feat to replace Ratledge, both offensively and defensively.


Andrew Knizner

Andrew Knizner(#11,JR,C), who not only made the move from 3B to Catcher in ’15, but absolutely killed it in the process, is probably the Pack’s biggest key in ’16. But it’s not as if the rest of the Pack’s infield can be overlooked.

Preston Palmeiro(#12,JR,1B), Joe Dunand(#3,SO,INF) and Ryne Willard(#8,SR,INF), who came on nicely last year, all look to build on strong seasons at the plate. The defacto replacement of Ratledge, on the other hand, appears likely to fall on true freshman Xavier LeGrant(#2,FR,INF), a speedy middle infielder from Charlotte. One of the top recruits in the country, LeGrant has the potential to step in and make an impact from day 1.


Palmero and Dunand celebrate ’15 ACCT win over Miami.

Aside from Palmeiro anchoring first base, exactly where and how the other three will piece together on defense will probably be somewhat fluid, at least initially. Dunand manned 3B well last year, but he is more the natural SS. LeGrant is a natural 2B, but his skills may slot him to 3B, with Willard, who spent most of ’15 at SS, falling into 2B by default.

Confused? Me too.

Like I said, it might be somewhat fluid for a while more than likely. LeGrant’s arm, and who is comfortable with whom in the middle infield DP combo will settle the issue eventually.

(hat tip to theCOWDOG for this suggestion)


State returns an outfield full of speed, and hopefully a year better experienced. Brock Deatherage(#13,SO,OF), Josh McLain(#15,SO,OF) and Shane Shepard(#16,SO,OF), all sophomores, should hopefully be a year better defensively as a result. Where the outfield really needs to improve however, is at the plate.

While Deatherage was more than respectable in ’15, with a more favorable spot in the order he should be able to up his production considerably.

McLain and Shepard, on the other hand….well, if they can combine to approach the Mendoza line it will be a distinct improvement. Hoping for a happy surprise here because McLain especially, with his speed, could be a game changer much the same way Trea Turner was when he got on base.

But Josh…first you gotta get on base. If you don’t, Garrett Suggs(#10,R-SO,OF) is just waiting to take your job, son.

And lest I forget, Shane’s big brother Chance Shepard(#24,SR,C/DH). Toward the end of the year he settled in nicely in his DH role, and I know of no reason why that will change, while spelling Knizner behind the plate at times.

Hopefully he’s gotten used to the hero role as well.

So, it’s baseball.  Potentially some really good baseball.  It’s too early to talk Omaha of course, but the pieces are there.  In any case, you should get your butts out to the Doak and take in some games either way.  It’s always a good time.

Go Pack!!!!

About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

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Viewing 25 posts - 101 through 125 (of 154 total)
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  • #100419

    And bless their cheatin’ hearts, Carolina leapfrogs us to #6, up from #10, by virtue of a weekend sweep of (then #12) Okie State. Can’t argue with that, but it still pisses me off.

    First chance the Pravda gets.

    No matter if deserved or not.

    Will relay someday my conversation with a local TV sports anchor that told me all I needed to know about the lay of the land. Like I needed that to convince me.


    ^ Have you told me that story before? Something there sounds familiar.
    But admittedly my aging gray matter cannot recall the details if you did, so feel free to gush as your leisure.


    Chance Shepard is a man possessed so far. Just jacked another to give the Pack a 1-0 lead in the 2nd.
    That’s five already in only the 9th game of the year, a pace which won’t hold, but he might flirt with 20 if teams keep pitching to him.


    Pack up 5-1 going to the 7th.


    Ball shoulda had wings early. Looks like the Jet vanished by maybe the 3rd, or 4th.


    5-2 Final.
    Pack moves to 7-2 overall. Irish Classic this weekend.


    Ball shoulda had wings early. Looks like the Jet vanished by maybe the 3rd, or 4th.

    Yup, died down here in the sticks as well. Well, mostly.
    Morning and early PM family duties kept me from getting out there today. My ear canals will probably thank me tomorrow for avoiding the cold wind.


    Wright State, UNCG, and UNCW are a combined 17-2 (if my math is right) outside of their losses to the Pack…


    ^ I haven’t done the overall math to date, but that sounds about right. Wright and UNC-W were both undefeated before hitting Raleigh and I think UNC-G had one loss.


    Pack leads Niagara 2-1 in the 2nd, our two runs coming on another Shepard dinger; makes six games in a row with an HR for him.


    7-1 Final.
    Shepard’s HR broke the school record for consecutive games with a HR, btw.
    McLain also went yard…his’n was of the grand slam variety.
    Ryan Williamson, in spite of being a bit shaky at times, fought hard for the win.
    Fun game.


    Pack wins pitching duel with Bama, 2-1. Good win cause I think Bama has a good team.


    ^ Yes they do. ‘Twas a good win, yes.
    Shepard’s consecutive game HR streak ends at 6, but he still plates the winning run with a sac fly.
    Team Ball.


    I haven’t seen a game yet this season in person but will be going to a few later in the season(After the 4/15). Seems like this team has the ability to win in several different manners. High scoring game, pitchers duel, late game comeback, etc. It is a little bit early but this team just knows how to win. Whatever it takes. They look like they have some good leaders on this team.


    “They look like they have some good leaders on this team.”

    Yes. They will be needed throughout the season, as there will be much to overcome wafting from the dugout.

    It was on display last night with a bonehead double steal attempt with runners on 1st and 2nd no outs, and a pinchhitting, utility infielder staying in the game, in right, pretty much costing the solo run given up.

    It’s early, but the season flys quickly, and I likes da chances.


    Can you speak to the dugout issues?


    Not an issue. Facts of life with Elliott.

    He somehow finds ballplayers that double as hurdlers, ’cause he sure enough knows how to lay out an obstacle course.


    5-2 Final at Doak today vs Bucknell.
    Win streak at 7. Chance Shepard goes yard for the 7th time in 8 games.


    Can you speak to the dugout issues?

    SNAFU….is one of my favorite acronyms.
    It may or may not be pertinent to ‘Dog’s point.
    (it is)


    Shepard almost had another in the eighth inning. To the center field warning track if I recall.


    15 of the top 16 (including NCSU at #8) remain unchanged this week.
    GT and Clemson climb in at #21 and #22 respectively….giving the ACC nearly 1/3 of the poll this week.


    Pack wins 4-2.
    8 straight wins against (mostly) good competition.


    4-0 win.


    WOO!!!!! After all, we’uns just a simple rasslin’ and el beisbol school…



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