Can you reflect back on the ups and downs of your season, after starting off in the weekend rotation, then starting mid-week games then working your way back into the weekend rotation?
“I have tried to stay off of the roller coaster mindset. I have to give credit to the coaches, especially Coach Forbes, taking me out of this mindset that I have to pitch well this week to pitch next week then I have to pitch well next week to pitch after that. If you do that you are not going to be concentrating on the pitch at hand. All you have is this one pitch - the same thing with life. You never know when this moment is going to be taken from you. I give him credit to calm me down after the rough first few outings. I did not have a good solid home outing until four home outings later which was a ways into the season. I give full credit to the coaches for working with me on the mental stuff. It is much more mental then the mechanics.”
How is it as a Morehead Scholar to balance your athletics and academics? Does being a starting pitcher make it easier to plan your week ahead?
“To the last question - yes, it does. Because you know exactly what you are going to do every day of the week from the beginning of practice to the end. You know what kind of sleep you can afford to get or lose during the week or whatever especially with academics. It is especially tough during the week because it is the University of North Carolina - it is not a joke. Academics here are challenging. For sure it is easier as a starter but at the same time any of these guys in here will tell you that balancing the student with the athlete part takes a lot of discipline.”
Can you quantify the importance of the win over East Carolina heading into the final break?
“Momentum-wise it helps a lot. The game we played yesterday [the loss to UNC-G] we needed to brush it off. Baseball is a game where you come in every day and have to have a short memory. We did not want to have the memory of the last game before finals with a bitter taste in our mouth all week. I have to give it to the Pirates, they played a really good game defensively, offensively and pitched really well. Fortunately it turned out the way it did for us. Going into exams with a high note is definitely key. The two of them are tied together for sure.”
What has it been like working on your pick-off move and getting called for balks?
“Well, we work on our pick-off moves a lot here. I felt like I had room to improve and of course the coaches did too when I got into college with my pick-off moves. Every college program teaches this balk move. Maybe I am just balking a lot or perhaps I’m the only one getting called for it, I don’t know. I can’t see myself but when I watch video I think a lot of them could go either way. But when the feet move quickly it is easy for someone to say 'yes that is a balk' or 'no.' But that is something I am definitely going to improve on to see that I am going to get my feet moving towards first base but also get quicker. I don’t want to sacrifice any quickness to first and to make sure I don’t balk.”
Can you discuss your perspective as a starting pitcher to how Coach Forbes and Jacob Stallings call the pitches and prepare for opposing teams' lineups?
“I have to give it to Coach Forbes. He does a lot of work looking at video of opposing teams when we are playing them he reads it off to us and we study it before the game. Him and Jacob kind of co-manage the game. On 99- or 100-percent of the time I will go with what they will call that is how much confidence I have in them. I think I have maybe shaken once this year but perhaps that has to do with me being a freshman, too, but I have extreme confidence in them.”
What are your summer plans? Your opportunities with the Morehead Program will be a bit different than other baseball players...
What training program will you have during the trip and will you shutdown your arm from throwing?
“Right now I am actually going to fly from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany then to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and I will be there for six and a half weeks - then will fly back to Rome, and back to Raleigh-Durham about four days before school starts and roll back in here and hit the ground running.”
“I am going to have a shutdown on my arm over the summer. I actually have got some fellow scholars going with me. There is a small group at this point. But, three of them are workout addicts. So I said thank the Lord. It is going to be so much easier since they have strict rules about going out by yourself at the compound where we will be staying at. I am pretty sure they have a local gym there so we are going to do some good solid stuff there.”
With finals right around the corner, who is the biggest procrastinator on the Diamond Heels?
Oh, gosh, are you going to quote me on this? Goodness gracious, I am going to throw him under the bus and he is going to hate me for this! Shell McCain. I’m going to have to go ahead and tell him. Before every single game we have the pre-game meal an hour or so before the game and you see a bunch of guys in the player's lounge on that computer typing away. It is not just him it is all of us. There is a big push, especially the last three weeks. I can definitely feel it taxing my body which is why I am really excited for post-academic play. I really think that extra sleep and getting that extra pressure taken off will be really good.”