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NC State baseball to turn page, focus on next year’s team

image_6483441 (3)by:Noah Fleischman06/19/24


After NC State arrived back at Doak Field following its exit from the Men’s College World Series in Omaha, Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent quelled the speculation that he may retire. 

Once that was out there, it was all about turning the page to next year. That’s life in college athletics, especially in the age of the fast-moving transfer portal, but the 28th-year coach wanted to soak in his third trip to the pinnacle of college baseball. 

But college athletics doesn’t wait for anyone, even the skipper that has brought the Wolfpack program to new heights with limited facilities in the ACC. 

“I’ll only turn the page because I have to, you gotta go to the next thing,” Avent said. “But what I’d like to do is go to the beach and put my feet in the sand for three days to celebrate this team. What they did was amazing. I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been amazed at a lot of things players do … but what this team did, I’ll never forget.”

Although he dreamed of relaxing with his friends and family, Avent will have to wait on his trip to paradise. He has a team to retool with the departure of five routine starters due to graduation, plus several others that will hear their names called in next month’s MLB Draft. 

Plus, with the transfer portal comes exits, and Avent has to brace himself if other players decide to leave the program. The Wolfpack already has four players in the portal — freshman pitcher Christopher Zupito, freshman infielder Robert Nedry, junior right-handed pitcher Garrett Payne and freshman righty Chance Mako. 

While departures are a given in collegiate athletics these days, Avent looked ahead to what he has coming back for the 2025 season. That core appears to be led by rising sophomore pitchers Cooper Consiglio, Ryan Marohn and Jacob Dudan, along with rising junior closer Derrick Smith.

“It’s a good number of young arms coming back,” Avent said. “You have to have pitching to be successful, but obviously we’ll have to go home now, work very hard to fill a whole lot of holes to give us a chance in this conference next year.”

Pitching is key in college baseball and Avent, who alluded to plugging open spots within the stable of arms, has already started that. The Wolfpack secured a commitment from UNC Greensboro starter Julien Peissel on Tuesday night, the first of likely many transfer pitchers the Pack will pursue to replace starters Sam Highfill and Logan Whitaker, in addition to the portal losses. 

Peissel has experience against top teams in the country, despite playing in the Southern Conference for two seasons. He logged a start against Wake Forest to open his 2024 campaign, and well, Peissel dazzled. 

The righty went five innings and allowed just one run on two hits with a walk and four strikeouts over just 78 pitches. He helped set the tone for the Spartans’ 4-3 win over the Demon Deacons on Feb. 20 before he helped steer UNCG to a 18-3 win over NC State on March 12. 

Peissel tossed 4.2 innings at the Doak, where he allowed three runs on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts. 

While Peissel was the first transfer pitcher that announced his commitment to NC State, the Wolfpack already held a portal commitment. Campbell outfielder Dalen Thompson, who hit .313 with 13 doubles and 10 home runs this past season, picked the Pack earlier this month and will compete for a starting outfield spot in 2025. 

Thompson, who stole 20 bases this year with the Camels, has the opportunity to battle for Noah Soles’ vacated spot in right field next spring. 

As NC State continues to look for its next transfer portal additions, which it only had four Division I transfers this past spring, the Wolfpack has the goal of returning to Omaha once again. 

But Avent, the school’s longest tenured baseball coach, is well aware of what a return trip to the College World Series entails. 

“It’s a hard place to get to,” Avent said. “It’s a great place to get to. It’s hard to leave.”

NC State hopes its stay is longer on its next trip, which could come as early as next spring if the pieces to the puzzle fall in the right spots. 

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