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Pirates' Booty: Roller rolls for ECU
By Michael Perry
Carolina University’s Kyle Roller could easily be mistaken for a
fullback or a linebacker with his 6- 1, 250-pound frame and his
surprising speed. He even comes from a football town and
lettered in football at Richmond Senior High in Rockingham, N.C.
The only thing is…he’s a baseball player.
Roller, a senior designated hitter and first
baseman for the No. 18 Pirates (Baseball America)
possesses unique duel-threat ability as a contact hitter in a
power hitter’s body.
By appearance he’s a stocky, barrel-chested
southpaw slugger, the type that every pitcher who values his ERA
worries about. But the nimble big man is one of college
baseball’s most talented offensive athletes.
knew he had power,” ECU skipper Billy Godwin said. “His maturity
as a hitter over the last three years has been phenomenal; he’s
been as good if not better than I ever thought he would be.”
past three seasons, Roller has accrued 39 home runs and 155 RBI
in his 571 collegiate plate appearances with a college career
batting average of .316.
junior year at ECU Roller aided his team in securing a Regional
Championship at home and expanding the program’s Super Regional
appearance mark to three.
reminisced on the 2009 Greenville Regional, describing it as his
best baseball memory.
“That’s something that will stick with me the rest of my life,”
Roller said. “To be down three runs in the bottom of the ninth,
and Devin [Harris] hits that big home run, it gives me goose
bumps thinking about it now.”
Rockingham, N.C., native has tallied a number of preseason
accolades including preseason first-team All-American by
Collegiate Baseball, second-team preseason All-America by
the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and
Ping! Baseball, preseason first-team All-Conference USA
and was named the sixth best college baseball player by The
College Baseball Blog.
Despite these and numerous other awards throughout his career,
Roller remains focused, humble and straightforward.
“They’re great awards, but I really care about what we do as a
team,” Roller said. “It’s a great honor, but I don’t pay much
attention to it.”
is more than an above college baseball player; he’s a
through-and-through hitting purist. Some may challenge this fact
with the aluminum bat argument, but a simple look at his summer
league accomplishments would end all discussion.
the past two summers Roller played in the Cape. In his last
season, Roller was a not just a member of the CCBL Champion
Bourne Braves, he also was the postseason and league MVP and an
All-Star selection. Roller excelled in the lumber-only-league,
hitting 10 homers, plating 33 runs (both league-leading
statistics) and was batting .600 as his team was headed into the
final game of the season.
“Cape Cod is an awesome league, the best players
in the country come,” Roller said. “It kind of lets you know
where you’re at as far as the best talent in the league.”
Roller was selected in the 47th round of the
Major League Draft after his junior year, but decided to return
“My mama always told me ‘If you start something
finish it’,” Roller said. “I was leaning towards coming back to
school, finish that out and getting a chance to go to Omaha.”
Roller, known for his plate presence, said he
intends on working heavily on his defensive skills this season.
Ironically, Roller says he was dumped into the
designated hitter slot for his lack of defensive ability, but he
works extensively on his ability to field the ball to establish
himself as a complete athlete.
“We have emphasized more playing defense with
him, we’ve toyed with left field,” Godwin said of the
possibility of seeing Roller on defense. “Kyle for a big guy
runs very well, he’s a lot better athlete than you’d think, but
we’ve also emphasized him at first.”
chosen as one of ECU’s 2010 team captains, Roller has embraced
the role whole heartedly as he helps his teammates make
adjustments in batting practice while also leading by example
with his work ethic.
With or without the “C,” Roller would practice
just as hard.
Fellow senior Devin Harris spoke of Roller’s
ability as a player, teammate and friend.
“Kyle’s been one of my best friends here, he goes
out and works hard, we spend all kinds of hours in the cage
working on our swing,” Harris said of his three-year roommate.
“He’s had a lot of success, and I think he’s going to do well
here and at the next level.”
Roller attributes much of his offensive maturity
to Godwin, but first and foremost to his father.
“My dad, he’s the reason that got me going with
baseball, everyday we’d work, he would take me to the cage even
if I didn’t want to,” Roller said. “He drove me to do the best I
(photos courtesy of ECU Media Relations Office)