Seth Maness

Seth Maness has been in a crossroads this year. After chances at continuing his professional baseball career fell through, the 33-year-old right-handed pitcher had to weigh his options.

In the two years since his last professional baseball appearance on the mound, Maness had served as an assistant coach for the Canes 17-and-under travel baseball team, but he also had a degree in accounting from East Carolina that led him to look for jobs in that area.

“I had no clue. I knew it was going to happen at some point. I got my degree in accounting and wasn’t ready to go that route,” Maness said. “I looked around and I couldn’t really put my finger on anything and baseball is my true love.”

Following his true love, Maness, a 2007 Pinecrest graduate, was announced as a new hire onto the UNC Wilmington baseball coaching staff last week. Maness will be the program's coordinator of player development, a new position for the Seahawks after staff turnover this offseason.

“It’s a new role. I’m really just bottom of the barrel. I’m trying to get my foot in the door and work my way up,” Maness said. “I’ll do whatever they need really.”

Maness got in contact with the UNCW coaching staff this year after hearing a position opened up when he ran into former UNCW coach Mark Scalf around Wilmington this year.

“I reached out to Coach (Randy) Hood then and said, ‘I’m in the area, if anything comes open in the next couple years, I’d like to throw my name in the hat,’” Maness said.

Maness bought a house in Wilmington in 2017 and has been living there since 2020.

“The longest I’ve been in North Carolina has been here in 2020 and 2021,” Maness said. “I’ve missed it.”

The experience the last two summers and fall seasons with the Canes has opened up Maness’ eyes to what the future of baseball looks like. The scene of high school baseball has changed a lot in the last 15 years, with player development taking a bigger stride into preparing players to play at the next level, whether it's at college or in the pros.

“I kind of see why I’m not playing anymore because of how good these kids are and how big they are," Maness said. "They are so good now. Guys are throwing mid to upper 90s. Hitters are unreal. It’s a cool thing to be a part of to get into coaching.”

After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB draft out of East Carolina, Maness made his debut in the majors during the 2013 season and appeared in four games during the 2013 World Series which the Cardinals won. Maness made 215 appearances out of the bullpen his first three seasons, including a career-high 76 in 2015.

He signed with the Kansas City Royals after the 2016 season, making eight appearances during the 2017 season with the Royals. His last professional appearance of his nine-year professional career came in 2019 as a member of the Nashville Sounds, the triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

At ECU, Maness was a four-time all-conference honoree. His 38 career wins remains a program record, as does his career strikeout mark of 334 in his 411 ⅔ career innings pitched.

Through the nine years in the pros, Maness said the bond in the clubhouse is vastly different to that of what he experienced in college, making his urge to coach at the college level that much stronger.

“I’m excited to be a part of college baseball. I truly love the college baseball scene. I feel like it’s the last team unit pulling in the same direction for a common goal. Not to say that doesn’t happen at the pro level, but there’s more individuality at the pro level,” Maness said. “In college, everybody wants to get to Omaha. Everybody wants to win a World Series, but I don’t feel like it’s as strong as the college bond. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

UNCW is coming off a 32-22 season this spring, and made back-to-back NCAA regional appearances in 2018 and 2019.

Former Pinecrest pitcher and Sandhills Athletic Conference player of the year R.J. Sales is a freshman for the Seahawks this season.

"The opportunity to add Seth to our staff was a no-brainer," UNCW coach Randy Hood said of Maness in a press release. "His experiences, from being one of the best to play at ECU then onto the major leagues where he pitched on the biggest of stages, will allow him to be such a great resource for our players and help us in all phases of their development. I'm certainly looking forward to working with him"

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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