03/19/08 — A Pirates' life for Butts

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A Pirates' life for Butts

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 19, 2008 1:50 PM

A journeyman on the collegiate scene, Brett Butts admits his travels from the baseball diamond at Eastern Wayne to perennial collegiate power East Carolina have been full of lessons.

He's learned every one.

And he's grown into a better pitcher.

Once his prep career ended, Butts signed with former Conference USA member Charlotte and had aspirations of becoming an integral part of the team. He soon discovered that wasn't the case.

"I wanted to go in there and contribute right away, and have a chance step into a productive role right away," said Butts. "When I got there, I sort of got shuffled out of the mix as far as being a closer, and was not having much fun."

Lingering back problems kept Butts out of the bullpen much of his sophomore season. He decided he needed a change of scenery.

"The atmosphere just wasn't what I was expecting when I went there, and there didn't seem to be a real love of baseball at Charlotte," Butts said.

Butts knew he couldn't transfer to another Division I school since NCAA rules would require him to sit out a season. The junior college route was his only choice, so his next stop took him to Pitt Community College for a one-year stint.

The 6-foot-2, 229-pounder logged a 7-0 record at PCC and played summer ball for the Harrisonburg (Va.) Turks in the Valley Baseball League. He appeared in 14 games as a reliever and collected three saves.

Rejuvenated and relatively pain-free, Butts felt alive again.

He reappeared on scouting lists for numerous Division I programs.

"Florida International showed a lot of interest in me, and I really considered going there," said Butts. "But I decided that I would like for my family to get to see me play because playing at the next level isn't guaranteed for anybody."

His family doesn't travel far these days.

Butts signed with East Carolina -- a perfect choice, he says.

"It just felt right," said Butts, a communications major. "It's close to home, we have a great fan base, play a top-25 caliber schedule every year and have the talent to compete at that level."

And there is a devotion to the sport unlike Butts experienced at Charlotte.

"Charlotte is a great school, and they have had some good years since I was there, but at ECU it's a different atmosphere," said Butts. "The players, coaches and fans all have a sincere love of Pirate baseball."

A right-handed hurler, Butts is currently 1-0 in three appearances this season. He's permitted three hits in 2 1/3 innings, posted two strikeouts and made a brief appearance in the Rhode Island series.

The Pirates are 13-4 overall, including a 10-1 worksheet inside Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium. East Carolina climbed to No. 23 nationally in this week's Baseball America poll and 26th in Collegiate Baseball.

Butts thinks the Pirates can contend for the Conference USA regular-season title. ECU opens its conference schedule at home Friday against Houston. The three-game series continues through the weekend.

"Rice has a few guys coming back that are very strong, and a couple other teams will be in it, but I like our chances," said Butts.

Although he's traveled extensively through the middle of North Carolina, Butts hasn't forgotten his roots at Eastern Wayne. He appreciates the hard work put in by the coaching staff.

"They put out a lot of good players at EWHS," said Butts. "They teach good values and really focus on doing the little things well, which is a great thing at that level."

Butts' younger brother, Justin, currently plays for the Warriors.

"That kid right there ... he's my biggest fan," chuckled Butts. "And I know that he loves what I get to do. It's nice to know he's always there watching and rooting for me."

Especially when Butts is close to home.