June 11, 2010
Little Guys, Big Impact
Brian Harris of Vanderbilt
Keith Werman of Virginia
Nathan Kilcrease of Alabama
Noel Ignites Chanticleers
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
Noel (left) sat at his computer, just waiting.
been a busy few days for the Coastal Carolina junior outfielder.
His team had just advanced to the Super Regionals for the second
time in three years. He was named the Myrtle Beach Regional Most
almost didn’t happen though. In Sunday’s elimination game
against College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina trailed 7-6 with
one out in the ninth inning.
Woodward drew a walk and then stole second base. He was now in
scoring position for Noel.
we figured is that obviously we needed a guy on base and we got
that,” Noel said. “Then I was just thinking drive him in.”
drove a two-strike pitch off the foul pole in left field and
earned the Chanticleers a dramatic walk-off, 8-7 win.
love being in those situations with guys on base and me up to
the plate,” Noel said. “I just love winning, and I love being
that clutch guy to come through for my team.”
Coastal Carolina went on to beat College of Charleston in the
Regional Final 11-10 in extra innings. Noel had three hits and
scored two runs.
Rico just sat and waited.
5-9, 170, Noel is the smallest player on his team. But what Noel
lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. His 56 stolen bases
rank first in the NCAA. Like Ichiro, one of his baseball idols,
Noel also hits for average. He is second on the team with a .348
average. He also has surprising power, with 11 home runs and 62
Rico was short on his high school team as well.
But that didn’t stop him from putting up big numbers. His senior
year at Lawton High School in Lawton, Okla., Noel hit .391 and
stole 31 bases.
in high school have always been bigger than me,” Noel said.
“Just growing up everyone’s been bigger than me. That just gave
me something to work on, just work a lot harder.”
He overcame what many perceived as a weakness and
was able to play for one of the top college programs in the
Now, Noel sat waiting to hear his name called.
When he finally heard it, he was relieved. The
San Diego Padres had selected Noel with a fifth-round pick in
the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
been my dream my whole life, playing pro ball and hopefully I
make it to the majors one year,” Noel said.
most likely will have to overcome his size and his doubters at
the next level. But he’s already proven he’s a great player at
every level he’s played.
“People doubt you when you’re smaller, and I just love proving
people wrong I guess,” he said. “I am what I am today because of
(photos courtesy of Coastal