Around the Bases: Landon Lassiter

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Landon Lassiter is UNC's leading returning hitter in batting average and on-base percentage. This fall the sophomore is preparing to man third base next season.

Can you discuss your preparations for the season playing in the field at third base?
"Just going up to the Cape with the mindset to get really good over there and because maybe I will have a chance to play over there this year. Just work on it because it's a really good league and to get as many game reps off the bat you can over there and just try to get used to it. It's a process and I can't wait to get home and work with my brother in the offseason a lot and get used to it. Just little things and hopefully position myself to have some success over there."

Since you brought up your brother already, the Tar Heels are playing Miami in football this Thursday where your brother is a walk-on quarterback for the Hurricanes after finishing his professional baseball career with the Yankees. He signed with them out of high school after being committed to the Tar Heels for baseball. Can you discuss your relationship with your brother?
"Me and him have a great relationship. I am very happy for him just to be at a big school like that and to have the opportunity to play Division I football at that school and get his education. I think it would be a little bit different if he was starting but he is new so I told him I hope we win but I told him that of course if he was playing I would hope the best for him, but I'd hope we would still win."

Do you think he will be able to come to Chapel Hill even if he is not on the travel roster?
"I am not sure yet. They usually rotate between the three and the four right now so he does not know. Hopefully they will because I want to see him. I have not seen him in a while and it would be good to see but if not I'll still stay in contact with him."

Can you discuss your mindset last year in playing the designated hitter and how you were able to have success at the plate without playing in the field? And what advice would you have for players unfamiliar with that position on how to stay sharp in a new situation?
"I say just stay locked in, because I was kind of frustrated about that I did not play up to my potential in the field early in the year and I tried to stay as locked in as possible to just prove to myself that I could play at this level. Just try to help the team as best as I could in the two hole and just get on base any way I could and help the team win."

After batting .358 last season with a .491 on base percentage, you showed a very patient approach at the plate. What do you look for at the plate?
"I just try to look for a good pitch in the zone and if it is there hit it and if it is not then take our walks. Coach Fox preaches all the time that walks help us a lot and just try to help the team win. That's our goal and we want to get back to Omaha."

Your Blue squad has had to face junior Benton Moss twice here in the Fall World Series. Can you discuss what you have seen from him so far this fall?
"I think he looks really good. He has really good command of all three of his pitches that he has thrown. He looks very, very sharp right now. His curve ball is in the zone and he is painting fastballs in and out right now and it is exciting to see him like that because people kind of forget that he has won 10 games each year he has been here and that is pretty impressive so it is nothing too much out of the ordinary but he is a very good player."

Can you discuss Trent Thornton this fall?
"Well he is our ace so he has meant a lot. Last year he was very competitive and he did great in Omaha against LSU and was great all last year. I think he is going to be very good. He has taken a lot of time off [throwing] and once we get back and get going ... like tonight he very easily could have won the game tonight if we had get one more hit here or there. I think it did us well to get him some rest over the summer and get ready to go for this season."

Can you discuss your relationship with Coach Jackson?
"Me and him have a great relationship. We talk about little things and he is the coach that I look to and ask for looking at film or anything working on the field or getting extra reps. He and I are very close."

How difficult is it for you to balance your academics and athletic responsibilities?
"It is a difficult transition that you have to learn. As a freshman coming in it was a little difficult as you are not used to the challenge of the academics here. You have to take the time to make all your tutors and make the time to really sit down and study and then get your sleep and nutrition. If you can do those things and be responsible you can do it. You just really have to be responsible and get your study hours in."

Coach Gatz heads the physical training for the players, so how has he prepared you for the rigors of the season?
"He does a great job making sure that when we are in the fall season not going super heavy like we do in the off season and maintaining and making sure you eat right. With specific lifts to get us stronger and help us to maintain our weight during the season while we are playing. I think I came in at 172 [pounds] and now I am up to 188 - hopefully will get to 190 or 195. Coming to college is the best decision I have made and my body has definitely gotten stronger because of Coach Gatz."

What was your favorite road environment from last season not considering Omaha?
"Probably NC State because we were both top teams in the country last year and facing [Carlos] Rodon and their fans always give us crap. It was a lot of fun and was so great to win that game on Saturday last year."

On that note can you describe the rivalry between UNC and NC State from your perspective as a North Carolina native?
"It is pretty cool. It is very unique rivalry to be a part of. Just because they are so good this year and last year they are good. I think it is the history between us and NC State. Just the amped up feeling you get. It is just something to be proud to be a part of."

Can you discuss the competition for playing time and how the players handle it?
"No one really knows. No one knew Colin [Moran] was going to be so good during his freshman year. That is the beauty about it. You never know what anyone is going to do and sometimes you see a freshman step up and have a year like he did. That is exciting to see and we are ready for the season to get going."

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