04/17/08 — Trojans ready to defend title

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Trojans ready to defend title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 17, 2008 3:09 PM

WILSON -- The new season starts today as No. 1-ranked Mount Olive College begins defense of its Conference Carolinas baseball tournament championship at historic Fleming Stadium.

The top-seeded Trojans (40-4 overall) oppose either eighth-seeded St. Andrews or ninth-seeded Coker at 4 p.m. Coker provided the lone blemish on MOC's league worksheet this season.

"It doesn't matter who it is," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "I'm more concerned about how we play. We all know if this team I've got shows up and takes the attitude it's a championship game, we'll be fine.

"I don't think we'll take anyone lightly, but we do have young kids and it would be easy for us to go out there and do it. Then we'd end up getting our feelings hurt."

In other first-round games, No. 14-ranked Erskine faces seventh-seeded Pfeiffer, third-seeded Belmont Abbey opposes sixth-seeded Limestone and fourth-seeded Barton meets fifth-seeded Anderson. The nine-team, double-elimination tournament concludes Sunday with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA South Atlantic Regional.

Mount Olive is going after its third straight tournament title and fifth overall since 2001. The Trojans have won eight consecutive games in the tournament and boast a conference-best 19-8 mark in tournament play since 2000.

"We haven't given any pep rallies this week," said Lancaster. "We just have to help them understand this is a big weekend and each game, although it's a different opponent, is a four-game series.

"It's not the best team that always wins, but the team that plays the best."

Weston Curles (3-0) gets the nod for the Trojans' tournament opener. The senior left-hander has compiled a 4.02 ERA in 40-plus innings on the mound.

Opposing teams are hitting .245 against the Hertford native, who has permitted 37 hits and 18 earned runs.

"Weston has had some brilliant moments this spring and some haven't been so brilliant," said Lancaster. "We hope to get six or seven innings out of him and swing the bats behind him. We'll be in good shape if we can stay out of our bullpen.

"But we have to play defense and swing the bats."

Mount Olive hits .352 as a team and has committed just 47 errors in 364 innings this season.