WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There were high expectations coming into the season for the UNCW baseball team.
Even though the Seahawks returned just two position players, they were the preseason pick to win the Colonial Athletic Conference and they have lived up to that hype, doing so with key contributions from many freshmen.
"With the number of new people we needed to bring in, and the number of players we lost, we were counting on several of these freshmen to step in and be everyday players," said UNCW head coach Mark Scalf.
Two of those freshmen stepping into big roles for UNCW are Greg Jones and Noah Liles.
"I think that I am falling into my role being the leadoff guy, getting on base for my team and having the guys drive me in," said Jones.
Jones has started for the Seahawks at shortstop since Day 1, but for Liles, it has taken some time.
Liles' hard work paid off last week when he was named CAA rookie of the week.
"Kind of got off to a slow start," said Liles. "But last weekend I found a rhythm, and having better at-bats, we are going to be in a better position to win."
"I am pleased with the way he's gone about his business," Scalf said of Liles. "He didn't complain and worry about being on the side and knew if he was going to get a chance to play he had to make adjustments and he did. He had a great weekend because of it."
For Jones, the biggest transition has been the speed of the college game.
"The game has got a lot faster," said Jones. "Pitchers are quicker. It was always easy to steal in high school, but guys have good pickoff moves."
The Seahawks coaching staff believes the future is bright for Jones.
"He's extremely athletic, and can do some things that others aren't able to do," Scalf said. "Greg has a chance to be a tremendous player for us, and has a chance to play for a while."