Listen to Audio (6:06)
Can you discuss your perspective on the pitching depth this season?
“We have a lot of really good pitchers. We have so much depth this year and will have a lot of depth in our bullpen. For these guys to have to compete for a spot - we have four lefties that we can run out at any time - so those guys are constantly competing with one another in the preseason and that does not do anything but make them better. That is the ultimate best case. They just get better because they are competing.”
Have you thought at all about this being your final season in Chapel Hill?
“I think about it sometimes. I really don’t want it to be over so I don’t want to think about it too much. We have high expectations for the year. The leaders have high expectations for the team and to be one of those leaders and for it to be my senior year I am more focused on that than it almost being over.”
How’s the depth looking behind you at catcher?
“Matt [Roberts] obviously had some huge at bats for us last year. He broke his hand in the preseason and that set him behind the eight ball a little bit. But he had one of the biggest hits for us of the year at ECU and he is just continued to get better and better just like Holby [Brian Holberton] is kind of our emergency catcher I guess because he can play so many positions in the field. But he especially has gotten better at catcher. I really don’t know what I’m talking about in the infield or outfield, but he has really gotten better at his receiving since he got here last year and he got some big hits for us last year too.”
Listen to Audio (4:19)
How much of a focus has been placed on improving on the base paths this season?
“That is one thing that the coaches really pushed us to work hard at this offseason. We have been working even harder on our baserunning. We have a good mix of speed and we have some guys that are not that fast but can run the bases well and take the extra base when we need it.”
Can you discuss what Cody Stubbs has shown you so far leading up to the season?
“He has done a great job. He is a dangerous hitter and is a big guy with some power and pop in his bat. He puts his bat on the ball too. He moves the ball and hits it with some power and is a good first baseman too. He is solid over there.”
Who has been the toughest of the freshmen pitchers to face?
“We have a lot of them. It is a good problem to have. You have a guy like Mason [McCullough] who just throws the ball upper 90s - he is going to be good for us. We have a lot of guys who can throw the ball pretty well who I think will see a lot of time early here. Chris O’Brien has really matured a lot from the fall to the spring. He has gotten stronger and come into his own as a pitcher. I actually played with him in high school. We went to rival high schools and played on a summer ball team with him so I got to see him grow up here at a much faster pace here in college. He has looked good and I look forward to seeing him out here.”
Listen to Audio (3:10)
How was the transition joining this team?
“It has been a good transition and I could not have asked for a better situation; the coaches have been great and my teammates have been awesome. It has been a very easy transition luckily.”
What have been the toughest pitchers for you to face
“Tate Parrish and Hobbs Johnson have been the two toughest pitchers left on left. Tate has that slider that breaks ungodly and Hobbs has come a long way from in the fall and has been one of the toughest pitchers to hit for me. Chris O’Brien is a very tough kid and as a freshman has showed a lot of things that are great to see out of someone who is younger. And he knows what he has to do to get better every day and shows a lot of promise and he will be really good in his years here.”
What has been your impression of the clubhouse chemistry after joining the Tar Heels from Walters Community College after starting off in Tennessee as a freshman?
“The team chemistry - obviously they are a very tight knit group; you cannot go to Omaha five out of the past six years and not be a close family. When you get here you understand what that family is and how special it is. I think that is one of the reasons that they have been successful here.”
Listen to Audio (5:15)
Can you discuss the left handed pitching on the staff this season and the ability to match up with other teams?
“That is going to be huge for us. Obviously with Tate Parrish and a young guy in Chris O’Brien who will contribute I think as well as George Carter. - he is going to be another big lefty for us. Obviously if those guys can come in and get those guys in a match up situation it is going to get us out of some big innings and prevent those big innings from happening.”
How has the offense looked this spring heading into the season?
“It looks really good. Us pitchers here in the fall and heading into the season we have been facing them day in and day out. I overheard Kent [Emanuel] mention how he is ready to face some other guys from different teams. Our hitting has come a long ways and you can tell just by coming out day to day. Guys are hitting it harder and into the holes and you can tell they have really been putting in the work in the back and off the field and getting their swings tuned up and ready to go.”
Has it sunk in yet that this is the beginning of your final season here in Chapel Hill?
“I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I don’t think that it has set in but once we get playing the season goes by so fast. I definitely have been thinking about it. I am ready to get us out to Omaha and win it this time. I think I speak for the whole team on this: we are ready to get out there and win the big one.”