How have you felt at the plate so far in the Fall World Series?
“I've felt good. I have had couple of bad games before the Fall World Series started and in the first game and I made an adjustment. When you make an adjustment you start hitting really good then you start moving back to where you were [with you hands]. Now I’m just being natural and focusing on what is coming.’”
When you make adjustments to your stance, hand location and swing, how do you do it - watching video, going in the cages...?
“The more I discipline myself to hit it up the middle, or the backside - that is what Josh Hamilton did to take him to another level. I guess it is what kind of quality I want when I go to the cages. I don’t go to hit the cages all that much as that might get me thinking too much. But really I try to just focus on my mental game more than anything. Sometimes before the game I tend to get too excited so I will sit there and calm myself down. Really that is my biggest deal.”
What are your thoughts on being a senior leader this season with the Diamond Heels?
“I enjoy it a lot. Since I have not started through all three years here where I have had a good amount of playing time I would say and I played at a high level and in the College World Series twice but I have not been able to play all the time so I am starting to fall into assuming the role of a leader and lead by example by hustling and stuff like that. I feel if they see that they will be able to play Carolina baseball. That is my take on it and I enjoy all the freshmen too. A lot of them are good guys and I think we have a lot of talent. A lot of them have surprised me. I look at them and think about being a senior and thinking about how I was. What did I do? - I kind of see where they are at and relating to that and thinking about how long ago that was.”
What has it been like to have the opportunity to try other manufacturer's bats this fall?
“It has been nice. The main thing for me is how the bat feels in my hands and the weight distribution of it too. It has been pretty good to see what is out there but the Nike bats are good. Like I said today, ‘The ball is going to go if you hit it good, but you have to hit it. It does not matter what bat it is if you don’t hit it.’ It is how it feels coming off the bat they might have close to the same exit velocity but it is how it feels coming off that gives you confidence. Because when you hit something off with wood there is not a better feeling when you hit it solid. It is mostly the feel of the bat in your hands.”
Can you give your perspective on Cody Stubbs coming in to play first base and the pop in his bat?
“He has more than just a little. He has a lot of pop. It was gone and he hits the ball hard consistently. I was thinking out there today even though I am facing him right now and I hope he strikes out I know he is going to help our team out. I am playing against him right now but when the season gets here he will be a big help for us.”
What was your team’s strategy coming into the Fall World Series team selection process?
“My team? We had one day where there were three lefties that pitched and they just shut us down. No runs, either team with only four hits. I just felt like there were a lot of lefty hitters and so we kind of tried to pick lefty pitchers. We won the first game with R.C. Orlan and Hobbs [Johnson]. Those are two of the lefties that came in and did really good. I know that Tate [Parrish] will help us out in the next series.”
It seems Chaz Frank has taken his baserunning to the next level. Last season he was able to take advantages of mistakes in wild pitches, going first to third, etc., but now he appears more capable of stealing bases?
“If he is on your team you really like having him because he has a lot of fire and giddy up. He takes that onto the base path. He is a go getter and smart and always thinking and ready. He is not lazy out there and has a lot of confidence. Even Jacob Stallings is sneaky out there and he is a good base runner but with Chaz's speed he has the same mentality - he will help us out a lot, especially since Tommy [Coyle] can steal bases.”
What is going to be the strong point of the freshman class in your opinion?
“Pitching, I would say. Pitching is always going to be the stronger point. Good pitching will always beat good hitting. If you have good pitching and defense ... I mean I used to think that offense was but since I have been here I have definitely bought into the fact from Coach saying that pitching and defense ... hitting will be there if you really work on it. If you are facing good pitching you will become better hitters. The freshmen look really good [on the mound], for instance Chris McCue going out there for his first inning at UNC and hitting 94. That is insane.”
How about Chris O’Brien’s performance in game three?
“I thought he did well. I like his composure out there and I think Chris is a really good pitcher...”
How do you think he recovered from giving up a mammoth home run to Cody Stubbs?
“Well, struck the next guy out, which was awesome. As a senior that is something I have learned from. My personality was as a freshman and sophomore I would panic. Now I kind of think what the coaches are thinking and it is a lot easier. They don’t think about how I struck out but: 'how is Seth going to react after he strikes out. Seth makes an error, how will he go in when he hits and will he be able to make the next play.' The physical ability is here with everyone or else we would not be here; it is the mental toughness that will make us successful.”