ROCKINGHAM — Nic Bullard still has some unfinished business at Richmond Senior this spring, but he took care of his collegiate future Wednesday afternoon.
The senior left-handed pitcher signed a letter of intent to continue playing baseball at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in the fall of 2014.
Bullard earned Southeastern Conference player of the year honors last season with a 10-1 record, one save, 97 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings and a 1.70 ERA. During the team’s 28-game winning streak, Bullard posted a 37 1/3 inning scoreless streak. Bullard was also named to the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
“They are really good and they gave me a really good offer,” Bullard said. “When I went there, I liked it a lot.”
The Braves have won at least 30 games the last 10 seasons under coach Paul O’Neil. The program’s success as well as building a relationship with the coaching staff convinced him to honor his verbal commitment he made to the school in July.
“They made it really easy,” Bullard said. “Coach (Blake) Newsome was straight and to the point. And I liked Coach O’Neil when I met him. I really fed off what they were saying. I feel that this is the next step for me from Richmond baseball, just a bigger version.”
Richmond coach Ricky Young believes UNCP is getting a pitcher who will be able to hit the ground running and vie for a spot on the pitching staff as a freshman.
“He’s been a very good pitcher for us,” Young said. “He’s not over-powering, but he’s a bulldog on the mound. He wants the ball. He can command three pitches and he’s a joy to coach. He has a chance to go in and pitch his first year.”
While Bullard admits he would like to see action as a freshman, he knows he will have to earn the opportunity when he gets to UNCP.
“Obviously I want to play,” Bullard said. “If I keep progressing I hope I can throw in a couple of games as a freshman. I would love to start some, but it will take hard work and dedication.”
Young added he first saw the signs of how special a pitcher Bullard could be two years ago.
“He emerged as a sophomore to be a big game pitcher for us,” Young said. “We have relied on him the last two years and he has done a great job for us.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.