Cliff Godwin, ECU Pirates

ECU Pirates

Cliff Godwin, who has been a part of nine NCAA Regional and two College World Series appearances coaching at the Division I level, enters his fourth year as head baseball coach of the ECU Pirates.

A four-year letterman for the Pirates, God­win was appointed as ECU’s 16th skipper in the school’s history on June 25, 2014 after completing a three-year stay at the University of Mississippi.

During his three years at the helm of the program, Godwin has guided the ECU Pirates to a pair of NCAA Regional berths, a Super Regional appearance, an American Athletic Conference Tournament title and a 110-72-1 (.604) over­all record. Five players have earned All-America honors, six were named to all-regional teams (five in Charlottesville), eight took home all-conference honors (all first-teamers), nine were selected as AAC Player-of-the-Week, while four were drafted by Major League Baseball teams.

Off the field, his teams have excelled in the classroom by registering a 3.0 GPA or higher in six of seven semesters, including a program-best 3.52 in the Fall of 2017 besting the previous mark of 3.42 (Fall 2015). Nearly 100 student-athletes have been named to the ECU Director of Athletics Honor Roll, while nearly 40 Pirates have earned inclu­sion on The American All-Academic Team maintaining a minimum 3.00 GPA. For the second-straight year, ECU took home The American Team Academic Excellence Award after sporting a 3.27 cumulative GPA for the 2016-17 year. In 2016, Godwin’s club received the American Baseball Coaches As­sociation (ABCA) after registering a collective 3.31 GPA.

In the community, the ECU Pirates have volunteered over 3,000 hours working with programs in the Pitt County area as the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Team IMPACT, Riley’s Army, Cypress Glenn Re­tirement Community Flood Relief, Red Cross, First Born Community Devel­opment Center and the James, ACES for Autism, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital.

On July 29, 2016 Godwin signed a three-year contract extension secur­ing his position through the 2022 season.

Godwin made an immediate impact in 2015 leading the Pirates to a 40-22 record, which included a second-place regular season finish (15-9) in The American. The 2015 American Coach-of-the-Year became the first skipper in program history to win 40 games in his initial season, guided ECU to a conference tournament title in its first year in the league and directed a return to NCAA post-season play – its first since 2012 – as the No. 2 seed in the Coral Gables Regional.

The Snow Hill, N.C. native followed with another NCAA Regional berth (No. 3 seed in Charlottesville) and a Super Regional appearance (Lubbock, Texas) in 2016. ECU, who posted a 38-23-1 record and finished second in The American (15-8-1), rolled through regional play picking up wins against No. 20 Bryant (9-1), No. 10 Virginia (8-6) and William & Mary (8-4) en route to claiming the Charlottesville crown – its fourth regional title. The Pirates continued their magical run, defeating No. 5 national seed Texas Tech, 8-6, in the opener of the Super Regional and came 90 feet away from making their first appearance in the Men’s College World Series.

In year three, Godwin led the ECU Pirates to their second American Baseball Championship game after winning three-straight in Clearwater, Fla. before falling to No. 17 Houston, which ended ECU’s season with a 32-28 overall record. The senior battery of Evan Kruczynski (Senior CLASS/first-team) and Travis Watkins (NCBWA/third-team) both earned All-America honors in 2017 while Watkins, Eric Tyler and Charlie Yorgen all earned first-team all-conference honors. Spencer Brickhouse was named to three Freshman All-America squads, while off the field Watkins (first-team) and Yorgen (third-team) both took home CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades for their work in the classroom.

Godwin closed out the year serving as an assistant coach for USA Baseball working with the 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) where he guided the Stars quad to a 3-0 series sweep over the Stripes at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

Ole Miss (2011-14)
Godwin served as Ole Miss’ assistant coach and helped lead recruiting efforts that resulted in the Rebels advancing to 2014 College World Series, their first appearance since 1972. During his three-year tenure in Oxford, Godwin was an integral part of NCAA Regional teams all three seasons and spearheaded recruiting efforts that garnered four Top 22 recruiting classes, including a No. 5 ranking in 2013 by Perfect Game, and had nine Major League Draft selections – three of which went in the first five rounds.

En route to a share of third place at the 2014 CWS, Godwin’s Rebel hitters ranked first in the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.303) and second in both home runs (42) and runs scored (396) on its way to the league’s West Division crown.

A former catcher for the Pirates from 1998 to 2001, Godwin mentored 2013 Johnny Bench Award Winner and first-team All-America selection Stuart Turner, who batted .374 and threw out 52 percent of base run­ners on steal attempts.

He continued to develop some of the top hitters in recent pro­gram history in 2014 as senior Will Allen and junior Auston Bousfield earned All-America accolades, while J.B. Woodman garnered Freshman All-America status. Allen, the Rebels leading hitter (.341) and top RBI man with 64, was a finalist for the ’14 Johnny Bench Award.

UCF (2009-11)
Prior to joining the Rebels, Godwin spent three seasons as the asso­ciate head coach at the University of Central Florida, where he directed the Knights’ offense and also served as recruiting coordinator.

In his three years at UCF, Godwin helped put the Golden Knights on the map with the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class in 2010 before following with a Top 20 class in 2011. He also helped lead the Knights back to NCAA Regional action in 2011 for the first time since 2004. Paced by First-Team All-Conference USA sluggers Jonathan Griffin and D.J. Hicks, UCF led the league in home runs, slugging percentage, hits, runs, RBI and doubles. In addition, his development of Beau Taylor, who bat­ted .325 with five home runs and 47 RBI, earned him inclusion on the 2011 Johnny Bench Award Watch List.

In 2010, named Godwin C-USA Assistant Coach-of-the-Year as he played an integral role in the Knights’ school-record and C-USA-record .343 batting average. The squad also posted 78 home runs and a .538 slugging percentage, both school standards.

LSU (2006-08)
Before to his stint at UCF, Godwin’s offense at LSU hit .306 in 2008 with 100 homers and 95 stolen bases. The squad recorded at least 10 runs in a game 20 times and sported a .509 slugging percentage. Towards the end of the season, including NCAA Tournament play, LSU posted a 23-game winning streak en route to a trip to Omaha.

A year earlier, Godwin helped build the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2007 for LSU according to Collegiate Baseball – a class which featured nine signees selected in that season’s MLB Draft.

Notre Dame (2005-06)
While in South Bend, the Fighting Irish posted a .313 batting average under Godwin’s tutelage and claimed the Big East Tournament title to go along with a berth in the NCAA Lexington Regional. He coached Craig Cooper to All-America and Big East Player-of-the-Year honors on the way to becoming a seventh-round draft pick.

Vanderbilt (2004-05) 
Godwin moved to Vanderbilt where he served as the Commodores’ Director of Baseball Oper­ations for two seasons before joining the Notre Dame staff as an assistant coach under then head coach Paul Manieri in 2005.

UNC Wilmington (2003-04) 
Godwin made immediate contributions in the dugout and in the batting cage, helping lead UNC Wilmington to the program’s first CAA champion­ship and an appearance in the 2004 NCAA Region­al Championship.

ECU As A Player (1998-2001) 
A five-year member of the baseball program at ECU, Godwin redshirted as a fresh­man before serving as a top catcher for the Pirates over the next four seasons. The three-year team co-captain started 126 games as a sophomore, ju­nior and senior, earning All-East Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association in his final season after batting .322 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI. The left-handed swinging God­win also was a First-Team All-Colonial Athletic As­sociation selection in 2001 after also delivering 14 doubles and drawing 23 walks in 57 games.

In addition to his on-the-field accomplish­ments, Godwin excelled in the classroom at ECU as a two-time Academic All-America selection – one of four Pirates to ever earn the distinguished honor. After being named to third-team status in 1999, he followed up with second-team accolades as a senior in 2001.

Godwin graduated magna cum laude from ECU in 2000 with a bachelor of science degree in management information systems, and after receiving the Pat Draughon Postgraduate Scholarship, went on to earn his MBA from ECU in 2002.

He helped former ECU skipper Keith LeClair’s teams win nearly 100 games more than they lost during his four seasons (169-76), including 46-plus wins in each of his final three years (46-16 in ’99, 46-18 in ’00 and 47-13 in ’01). His career totals with the Pirates included 24 home runs, 31 doubles and 95 RBI.

ECU won a pair CAA Tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Regionals every season from 1999 to 2001. The Pirates were the top seed in their regional all three years, including a No. 6 national seed in 2001 where they advanced to the Super Regional round before being eliminated by Tennessee. Godwin was named to the all-tournament team at the 2001 NCAA regional, hosted by ECU in Wilson.

After finishing his collegiate career, Godwin spent two seasons play­ing professionally with the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League be­fore getting back into the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at Kin­ston High School in 2003.

In all, Godwin has worked with 57 players who have gone on to the professional ranks during his time as a coach at the Division I level.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).