Rounding the Bases with Kevin Arico
Sophomore Kevin Arico and the Virginia baseball team makes its debut in the College World Series at 7 p.m. Saturday against LSU. The game will be broadcast live on the Virginia Sports Network as well as ESPN. Arico, a native of Flemington, N.J., has been one of the major contributors out of the bullpen for the Cavaliers this season. He emerged as the closer midway through the season and has 11 saves on the season, which places him fifth on the Virginia all-time saves list. Arico recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the College World Series and the path leading up to it.
Question: What are some of the emotions running through you right now?
Arico: We could not be happier or more excited right now, for the team and for the coaches. One of the greatest things we have accomplished this year is being able to fulfill the dream of the seniors and give them a shot at a NCAA championship.
Question: Where is the team’s confidence at as you prepare for LSU on Saturday?
Arico: We made the run in the ACC tournament and we won the regional and the super regional. We feel that we are exactly where we need to be going into this weekend.
Question: All weekend long, the television announcers talked about leadership and cohesiveness with the team. What do you feel like has been the most important leadership aspect this year?
Arico: Franco (Valdes) is definitely our emotional leader. We would not be where we are without guys like him. The most important factor in terms of leadership is how close our team is and how we can rely on each and every guy to come through.
Question: How does it feel knowing the ball is in your hand at the end of the game?
Arico: It is a great feeling. It is nice knowing the coaches have the confidence in me when the game is on the line. It is a fun ride going out there but it took a lot of adjusting in terms of my mentality and preparation.
Question: You mentioned talking to some different people about your transition to the bullpen when you got to Virginia. What have they said and how has it impacted your transition?
Arico: I was fortunate to be able to go home and talk to some guys who do it at the next level. Coach O’Connor has been a source of information for me. He closed when he played college baseball and he discussed with me what it takes to be able to go out there and be the closer.
Question: How has it been being on the road for both the Regional and Super Regional?
Arico: We have traveled a ton over the last few weeks. Even though we are traveling it has been nice because there are no outside distractions. We sit in a hotel room and we play baseball. We love our fans and would have loved to play at home but it really has not been bad playing on the road.
Question: How was the atmosphere in Oxford this past weekend?
Arico: The bullpen was right in front of the outfield student section. We would have anywhere from 10 to 55 year-olds yelling at us. There were 10,000 fans at all three games and they stormed into the stadium as soon as the gates opened. It was really a neat place to play.
Question: What has been the greatest moment of this post-season thus far?
Arico: There is nothing like winning an ACC championship. But, winning the super regional in front of 10,000 fans and hearing the stadium go silent was amazing. Being able to celebrate a trip to Omaha with my teammates and coaches has been the greatest moment thus far. I look forward to what the future holds and feel this team is ready for any challenge that lies ahead.