GREENVILLE, N.C. – Former Pirate standout Ben Sanderson has been named assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, while also serving as the hitting and outfield instructor at East Carolina University according to an announcement from head baseball coach Billy Godwin Friday.
Prior to his return to ECU, Sanderson served four years as an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic University working with the Owls’ hitters and outfielders, while playing an integral role in its recruiting efforts.
Sanderson helped the Owls to a 131-97 four-year record that included a pair of Sun Belt Conference regular season titles (2010, ’12), an appearance in the 2010 Gainesville Regional, mentored eight all-conference selections and one All-America honoree (Andy Mee).
“I’m extremely excited to have Ben Sanderson back with the Pirate family,” said Godwin. “His experience as a recruiter, overall baseball knowledge and passion for our program will make this a seamless transition. Ben’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious and having him back in Greenville as a member of our staff will help us to continue to strive for winning championships and make the ultimate trip to the College World Series.”
As a recruiter, Sanderson played a key role in putting together FAU’s nationally ranked recruiting classes the last three years including the 2012 class, which was rated No. 26 by Perfect Game recruiting services.
“I would like to thank Coach John McCormack, our players, and FAU for a tremendous experience over the past four years,” said Sanderson. “I am extremely excited to once again be a part of Coach Godwin’s staff, and to be back home in Eastern North Carolina.”
“I look forward to working everyday to help make the goals and vision that Coach Godwin and the Pirate Nation has for our program, continue to become a reality. Being associated with a program with such a rich history and fine tradition is truly an honor and privilege.”
In 2012, Sanderson guided Mike Spano to all-conference honors following his first season as the Owls catcher. The junior backstop batted .291 with three home runs and 22 RBI. Fellow classmate and third baseman Kyle Newton was selected in the 19th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies after batting .311 with seven round trippers, 13 doubles, 34 RBI and scoring 37 runs.
Newton’s selection by the Rockies marked the sixth offensive player drafted or free agent signing under Sanderson’s leadership (Travis Ozga/41st round by N.Y. Mets in 2009; Raymond Church/26th round by Tampa Bay Rays in 2011; Nick DelGuidice/free agent signee by Kansas City Royals in 2011; Mike Albaladejo/free agent signee by Washington Nationals in 2012; Alex Hudak/free agent signee by Kansas City Royals).
During the 2011 campaign, Sanderson mentored Hudak, who batted .360 ranking among the league leaders. The junior outfielder also belted three home runs, roped 16 doubles, drove in 25 runs, scored a team second-best 41 runs and earned second-team all-conference honors.
In 2010, Sanderson helped develop players that led FAU to its first Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship and an appearance in the NCAA Gainesville Regional. The Owls advanced to the championship game losing to regional host Florida, which played in the College World Series.
Sanderson joined the Florida Atlantic coaching staff in 2008 after serving as a volunteer assistant coach for two years for the Pirates where he worked primarily with the outfielders and coaching first base. Off the diamond he was responsible for the Pirates’ summer and winter baseball camps.
During his first stint with the Pirates, Sanderson was part of a staff that posted an 82-44 record and garnered a pair of No. 2 NCAA Regional seeds.
The 2008 club, which garnered a No. 2 seed at the 2008 Conway Regional after posting a 42-21 record, was ranked as high as No. 21 in the national polls and produced one of the most productive offensive seasons in C-USA history (all games) leading the league in nine categories including average (.317), hits (702), RBI (464), runs (498), slugging percentage (.499) and on-base percentage (.408). For the second consecutive season the Pirates ranked first in home runs belting 89 to follow-up on its 2007 league leading 68. Senior outfielder Harrison Eldridge earned the second of his two first-team All C-USA honors after batting a team-best .352 with 87 base hits, 61 runs and 32 stolen bases, all ranking among the C-USA leaders.
Sanderson was instrumental in helping the 2007 Pirates lead Conference USA with 85 stolen bases and ranked among the league leaders in outfield assists. The Seven Springs, N.C. native had a pair of Pirates rank among the league leaders in stolen bases with Eldridge ranking seventh and Ryan Wood finishing eighth. The 2007 campaign was highlighted by the Pirates (40-23) return trip to NCAA Regional play (No. 2 seed Chapel Hill), as well as a second place finish in both the Conference USA regular season and tournament championship. ECU also made a return appearance in the national polls where they spent nine weeks ranked in the top 30 with its highest rank at No. 19 by Baseball America on March 26.
A four-year letter winner, Sanderson helped the Pirates to four NCAA Regional appearances (2000-03), one Super Regional (2001) and a combined 170-78-2 record. As a senior he earned his second of two NCAA Regional all-tournament team selections in the Atlanta Regional and became the first recipient of the honorary No. 23 jersey which was the number worn by ECU head coach Keith LeClair throughout his coaching and playing career.
The number is awarded annually to a deserving player who best displays the hustle, determination and desire that made LeClair a great coach and player. Others that have worn the No. 23 jersey include: Jamie Paige (2004), Brian Cavanaugh (2005), Adam Witter (2006), Chris Powell (2007), Drew Schieber (2008), Brandon Henderson (2009), two-time winner Austin Homan (2010-11) and most recently Tim Younger (2012).
During his junior campaign he was a member of the 2002 Conference USA Tournament Championship team that posted a 4-0 record and earned a NCAA Regional bid to the Clemson Regional. For his outstanding play, he was named to the regional all-tournament team. Sanderson closed out the season with a .405 batting average, which ranked second on the team and is tied for ninth on the single-season charts.
In 2001 the Pirates earned their first-ever NCAA National Seed, a top-10 national ranking, and NCAA Regional (Wilson) title while winning a school record-tying 47 games. As a freshman he helped ECU to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament title and a NCAA Regional (Lafayette) appearance.
Before coming back to ECU in 2007, Sanderson spent two years as the operations manager/ strength and conditioning coordinator at the Triple Crown Baseball Center in Greenville, N.C., where he organized and coordinated strength and conditioning programs for youth members ages 7-19. He also managed daily facility activities including one-on-one and group instruction, camps and special events, as well as general facility maintenance.
From December of 2005 until August of 2006, he worked with the Durham Bulls Baseball Club as a group sales assistant, creating and implementing admissions marketing campaigns for season ticket holders, mini plans, group tickets and picnic and suite areas.
Sanderson earned his undergraduate degree in exercise and sports science from ECU in 2003 and in May of 2006 completed his master’s degree in exercise and sports science (sport management).