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Opening Statements
Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor:
“First I’d like to welcome the three visiting institutions. All four of our schools have earned the right to be here this weekend. I’d like to welcome them to Charlottesville-I know this is Coach Golloway’s second trip in three years. We’re glad to have Oklahoma back.
“Two months ago I didn’t know if we would be sitting on this stage right now in Charlottesville. Our team put it together over the last five or six weeks to be in this position. We’re fortunate to be hosting in Charlottesville and be in the NCAA tournament and we’re looking forward to some great baseball this weekend.”

Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway: “On behalf of the University of Oklahoma, we’re excited to be here. I was telling Brian that the last time we were here two years ago, I told my wife there would be a very slim chance we got sent back here again and here we are again two years later. I think it speaks volumes for Virginia and their baseball program and how they put themselves in the position to host. We’ve been in that position and it’s always very gratifying when you play well enough to host. I think a lot like Virginia we really turned it around and played well in the last three weeks of the season. It was us trying to get all the pieces of the puzzle put together. Jordan John, who is now our number one, was our closer earlier in the year. Max White, our center fielder, was at first base then we put him at third base and then at left field and now we’ve got him in center so I don’t think we’ll be moving him around much more. He can really cover some ground. You get an idea what our season’s been about. Our players have had the courage to try new things. We lost two coaches last year-Mike Bell went to Florida State…they did a great job and we replace them with two outstanding coaches. We lost 10 players out of 11 drafted so it was definitely going to be a lot of rebuilding and we’ve done a good job to put ourselves in this position. As I think about this field here I know how hard it can be to win in this environment. The fans here do a terrific job and it’s very gratifying to come in here and compete. It’s not easy, but it’s fun.”

Army head coach Joe Sottolano: “We’re proud to be here and excited to be here. I’m sitting next to three outstanding coaches from programs and places we want to be. The two to my left have been here several times and we had the privilege of playing Appalachian State a couple years ago and watching them build into a terrific program. We’re excited about this opportunity. We’re a very young club in a lot of ways, starting four to five freshmen each game. We didn’t know exactly what we we were going to get but it speaks volumes when you think of Army and West Point you think about leadership and that is really what our team represents. Hats off to our seniors for pulling together a very young team and making them feel like there were no freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors-there were just all ballplayers. I hope that each and every one of our kids commands respect for what they stand for but this weekend what they stand for is just Division I baseball players and by the end of the weekend I hope that’s the respect you have for them. We look forward to the opportunity and appreciate the teams we’re about to face.”

Appalachian State head coach Chris Pollard: “We have a veteran club, a group of seniors and fifth year seniors who have been wanting to reach this goal for four or five years. It’s always surreal that it has come to pass. It’s humbling to be up on this stage with these guys and all they have accomplished. Our guys are excited about the moment but at the same time we won’t just be happy to be here. We’ve got a group of guys that have played in some great environments of college baseball over the last three or four years and have learned a lot from that and will come out and be hungry to compete against these schools. Oklahoma is one of the hottest teams in the country with an unbelievable pitching staff and we know we have our work cut out for us. Our guys are fired up. We’re excited to be here and on a personal note we always said that we would be happy to go anywhere and be a part of this group of 64, but to grow up 45 miles down the road from here and to grow up as a fan of Terry Holland and Ralph Sampson and be a UVa fan growing up-when I found out this was where we were coming, this was pretty special.”

On Colin Harrington:
“I remember going back four years ago and sitting in his home in Johnstown, Pa. This kid was the valedictorian of his high school class and was a tough kid that we actually recruited as an infielder. When he came into UVa there was a pretty good amount of talented infielders so we converted him to an outfielder. Didn’t really play his freshman year but last year he platooned in the outfield. He mainly started against left-handed pitching. This year he proved he’s an every day player and now he’s toward the top of our team in hitting. He’s got a lot of pride and to boot he’s got about a 3.5 in chemistry so he’s a very gifted young man. He’s a blue collar, tough kid who loves to compete.

On Oklahoma’s pitching staff:
“We’re fortunate and blessed to have the arms we have. We had no idea when we recruited and put this group together what would develop. We clearly have the miles per hour on our scoreboard at home and I think our fans at home are showing up not to watch us but to watch the scoreboard hit triple digits. We have a guy, Magnifico, who has hit 101, 102 on the scoreboard several times and it’s been pretty amazing. We’ve got two lefthanders in there that know how to pitch. We have a power right-handed arm in Gray who was a 10th round pick by the Yankees but who chose not go. For us to be able to return all three starters would be special. Jack Giese is our pitching coach and we got him from Tampa Bay in professional baseball. He has done nothing short of a miraculous job. He came in in January and started learning the arms and they learned him and we went a growth spurt trying to learn about each other and he got them through it. He calls the pitches and they don’t shake very often.”

On Branden Kline:
Last year I felt Branden was one of the best closers in college baseball. I think he had 17 or 18 saves and did a terrific job in that role. I knew there would be an adjustment period moving to the starters role and he pitched a little relief for Team USA last summer and once he got into his second or third start in conference play he really started to put it together. He’s had some ups and downs at times but he has a really good arm. He’s very athletic and I felt like he’s made the transition very well. He’s been our Friday night guy all year long and this weekend will be no different. He’s very deserving of wherever he goes in the professional draft because he’s done some really great things in our uniform over the past three years.”

On Army’s season as a whole:
I don’t know if we were prepared to do what we did to be honest. We lost a lot of good ballplayers; some of them signed some contracts and are doing some good things. We have a lot of youth-we aren’t an overly big ball club and we realized that we had to play a different brand of baseball then what we’ve been playing. It was going to be a team effort. What we’ve been trying to do is have the sum be greater than the individual. Our focus is trying to stay with the philosophy of trying to be the best team we can be and try to slow the game down and minimize defensively.”

On Gunnar Carroll:
I think Gunnar has developed and we’re excited about that. When we recruited him we recruited him two ways-we understood he was a talent but we also realized he had a lot of upside and a lot of development growth. What we didn’t realize was the leadership potential he’s had. He’s really taken on that role. His makeup is what has allowed him to be successful. He’s a leader as a sophomore and I think he really enjoys his time on the mound. You’ll see him smiling and laughing out there which is kind of different for me. He keeps our guys loose and is a terrific athlete.”

On the veteran Appalachian State team:
“We had an opportunity to go down to LSU earlier in the year, which was a terrific opportunity for us. We saw some great arms down there but what we’ve seen in talking to people about Oklahoma is that there is probably more velocity than what we saw in Baton Rouge. We better be ready to start our swings early if we’re going to get the bat to the point of contact. We’ve got some guys that have been in some environments where we’ve seen some really quality pitching like down at Miami last year. We’ve got some quality arms in our league so our guys quite frankly fared pretty well against high velocity arms throughout the year.”

On Army’s long break:
After our conference championship ended we had graduation and if anyone knows anything about graduation at West Point, it is not normal. Trying to keep a senior and the team focused throughout graduation and then as soon as finals end they have to move out, get ready for military obligations, cleaning out the barracks, doing certain things. The break was somewhat rewarding. We practiced through it and figured things out. We stayed focused and did some intrasquad games. It’s not optimal-to try to get a senior to practice during graduation week with what’s going on, for some reason baseball is not on the top of their mind at that point. It’s pretty darn close, and it better be, but it certainly comes second to that graduation.”

On UVa’s progression:
“There was a point when we were 11-8 this season and about the middle of the conference season the four or five freshman we had in the lineup really started to gain some experience and some consistency. At that same time we started to figure out our pitching and what kind of roles our guys would have. That was really when we started to take off. Early on we had that sweep against Clemson but I think the three game sweep we had down at Miami was certainly a big sweep for us that looked like it was all starting to come together. Our pitching was in order and we were starting to do the job at the beginning and the end of the game. This season for us has been more different than anything in my nine years here. I think that because of the uncertainty coming into this year. We lost 75 percent of our innings off our pitching staff last year and lost five or six every day starters in our lineup. That’s a significant amount of players. It takes time to figure out where to put guys to be the most successful and consistent. Over the last four or five weeks we’ve shown the kind of ball club that we’ve matured into.”

On a turning point for Oklahoma:
“We had several turning points. With our expectations in the rankings at the beginning of the year we traveled to Pepperdine and ended up losing that series 2-1 and I think right away our players were a little shocked. That doesn’t take anything away from Pepperdine, they’re a good club, but our expectations in our program have grown. We started the Big 12 0-4. We were at Texas Tech and we lost the first game and I had the seniors come up to my room and we had a heart to heart that lasted about two hours. None of us had eaten yet and we didn’t care to. Our seniors were very frank about what they observed and what we needed to do and I even let them make a decision on who they wanted to go on the mound the next day. We did that and we ran a guy out there and found a victory and we won the next day and that was a turning point. There were two or three moments that helped us grow to the next step to get to where we are now. Our kids are confident. We’re willing to take whatever happens. We have a saying in our program that God already knows the outcome and that all we can do is play….it has already been written and we just get to go and experience it.”

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