This Week With Mike Fox

The Diamond Heels lost their Monday finale against Clemson, but won the series to improve to 25-2 (9-2 ACC). They head to UNC-Wilmington for a mid-week game before hosting Maryland at Boshamer Stadium this weekend. InsideCarolina.com caught up with coach Mike Fox for the weekly interview ...

This Week
Wed. at UNCW
Fri. vs. Maryland
Sat. vs. Maryland
Sun. vs. Maryland
Coach Fox can you reflect back on the last week of competition?
"Last week, who did we play in the middle of the week? VCU and Winthrop. A come from behind victory in a walk-off which was exciting. Then we had to manage this weekend with Clemson. Those Saturday, Sunday, Monday series – we have one of them this year and they change things with TV, rain and the weather. It was something we had to manage. We are thrilled to get four wins. We are disappointed not to have won the last game but we just did not play well enough to do that. But all in all it was a good week for us. We have a short one in front of us so we have to regroup pretty quickly."

The team had its first stretch of poor defensive play in the continuation of Sunday night's game, committing four errors, before committing two more in Monday evening's game. What did you make of those miscues?
"Well it was uncharacteristic of us to commit four physical errors in game. Some of them go down as physical errors but to me they are as mental as they are physical sometimes. We were just poor on defense. We don't make plays. We are in the right position and we just don't make a play. Certainly the throw we made to the wrong base came back to get us and we lose the big inning war where you give a team three or more runs per inning. When that happens and you lose the big inning war you will probably lose the game and that was the case obviously in the game last night in game three. We were able to overcome it in game two because of Trent Thornton."

You used the four primary starters during the Clemson series, because of the game that was suspended (where Benton Moss was dominant on the mound not allowing a hit over his 2.2 innings pitched and then Trent Thornton picked up where he left off). What did you think of the pitching performances this weekend?
"You said it with Trent. I think people know what he did if you were following the game or watching the game. There is a freshman we put out there in his first ACC game and he throws 6 and 1/3 innings and throws 14 balls. I have seen a lot of good outings at Carolina but that one has to rate right up there. You throw 72 pitches in 6 1/3 innings and 58 of them are strikes and you went to one three ball count on a hitter and of course you alluded to the defense behind him. If we played good defense behind him he wouldn't have given up a run. So that was really awesome for us to see putting Trent out there in the game we resume. I don't know if we don't win that game if he does not go out there and do that. So we have seen that in him before. He has only walked four batters now in about 40 innings. That is why he is out there. He pounds the strike zone and gives us a chance. We were able to use everybody. I think that the game last night will serve us well in that we really needed to get some guys out there to pitch. Shane Taylor had not pitched in a couple of weeks and we ran everybody out there in a close game and even though the result was not what we wanted I think we have to take the positive out of it that we got some guys on the mound that we are going to have to have down the stretch. It does not put us in a quandary in the middle of the week because we have to play these weekend games without the mid-week games in mind. That is how critical they are. Coach Forbes and I will talk this morning and you know we will have plenty of options for tomorrow against UNC-Wilmington."

There was a very lively crowd this weekend and to see almost 4,000 fans in attendance for a Monday night game was pretty impressive. Can you discuss your perspective on the fan turnout?
"We were thrilled with our crowds. Saturday night was even better than Monday night but I thought Monday night was terrific and the people hung in there until the end – the majority of them, which was great for us to see. I said this before but I just think our players deserve - well what you deserve or don't deserve is debatable - but I just know our players really want to play in front of crowds. I think all athletes do. It was on national television so I thought it was important that we have a good crowd there. Again Michael Beale and the other folks that are in support of our program in marketing, promotions and operations are some of the best people. Michael has really, really worked hard and I think it showed. Hopefully we will continue to put a good product on the field and if the weather will cooperate. I hope it is just a start of some good crowds for us in April and May."

Cody Stubbs this weekend was involved in producing 39 outs in the three games, while showing his defensive range at first, and then was 4-for-5 at the plate in two of the games Can you discuss his play this weekend both with the glove and at the plate?
"Cody was terrific over the weekend. He has had a really good year for us so far. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that because he works as hard and is as diligent a player as I have ever coached. If you remember last year against Clemson it didn't go very well for him down there. For him to turn around especially against Clemson and reverse all that and make the big plays - especially fielding that ground ball and getting the out at home which gave us the chance to win where they had the bases loaded with no outs - it is exciting to see. He got the walk off hit during the middle of the week. He had a really good five games for us this week."

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What will it be like for you to see former Diamond Heel pitcher and assistant coach Robert Woodard in the opposing dugout in Wilmington on Wednesday?
"Well Woody was at our game yesterday. I was laughing, ‘You didn't have anything else better to do? If you don't know these players and know our team for a scouting report you weren't paying attention last year to these things.' It was great to see him in the stands. He is happy and doing exceptionally well with them. It is like seeing Jason Howell with a Georgia Tech hat on. It is different but it is great for them because they did so many great things for Carolina not only in their playing career but in their coaching career and seeing them move on in their profession and doing the things they are doing. It is exciting for me personally but I know it is very exciting for them. No matter what the competition is tomorrow night we will both try to beat each other but at the end of the day and after the game it will be back to Old Woody and being a former Tar Heel. At least it will be for me."

Speaking of former Tar Heel players – can you discuss what former second basemen and current Director of Baseball Operations Dave Arendas brings to the table for the Diamond Heels?
"Gosh has it been seven years? I would have to go back and rethink it. Dave, as all of our staff does, does so much behind the scenes that nobody knows about, except for me and our staff. One of the biggest things for us that he does, just like every other facility here on campus we have people here all the time on our campus wanting to see our facility so obviously we want to show them off. So Dave is showing Little League teams, coaches and other people around the stadium on game day. He helps obviously with a lot of paperwork and things, a bunch of stuff that takes a load off of me. It is a very valuable position that is one that we didn't always have and I certainly am glad we have it now."

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