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May 27, 2013

Head Coach Brian O’Connor

“Our ball club feels great. It is an honor to be able to host an NCAA Regional here in Charlottesville. Doing so seven out of the last ten years is quite an accomplishment. That shows the kind of teams that we have had here over the last ten years. To be selected again as a national seed is a great compliment to the players for the kind of season they have had. You earn a national seed for your entire body of work throughout the entire season. Our guys have certainly done the job.”

“However, that doesn’t matter a whole lot for this coming weekend in the Regional. Where it matters is that if you happen to advance through the Regional, then you get the opportunity to play here at home in the Super Regional to go to Omaha. We have to play really great baseball this coming weekend to have that opportunity.”

Question: How big of a deal is it to play on your home field?

“Well, certainly, there are advantages to hosting Regionals and playing at home. Number one, you get to sleep in your own bed, you get to use your own facility and things like that. Most importantly, you get the chance for your fans to be behind you. Our fan support has been a very big part of our program and the success of our program. This is another opportunity for everyone who follows and supports our baseball program to come out over the weekend of the NCAA Regional and support the players who wear this uniform as they try to compete for a championship.”

Question: With so many young guys, if someone told you that first day of practice that you would be a national seed this year, what would you have thought?

“I would not have been surprised if you had told me at the beginning of the year that we would be a national seed because I knew the talent of this team. It doesn’t surprise me that we are in this position. I felt coming into the start of the year that we had a lot of talent. It was just a matter of how consistent would they be. In order to be a national seed, you have to be very, very consistent the entire year. It is not something that is done over two weeks. It’s great. It’s another feather in our cap. Obviously it gives us a little bit of an advantage being able to play at home. Now, everything that we have done throughout the entire year, you have to push that aside and draw from the confidence you have from how you have played all year. Now it comes down to playing good baseball for one weekend.”

Question: What is the difference in the players who faced Army last year as freshmen now that they are in their sophomore year?

“Knowing that we will play Army in the first ballgame, we know what kind of club they have year in and year out. They are always very, very well-coached. They are tough kids who are really fundamental. They will come here ready to play baseball, just like they were last year. We need to understand what we need to do, fundamentally, to be successful. You look at our players who played in that game last year, [Brandon] Downes [Derek] Fisher, Nate Irving and players like that, they all have another year under their belt, have a lot more experience, are more developed and are more consistent players than they were last year at this time. That being said, Army has that same thing, too, with some of their players. I am excited to see our guys go out there in front of this great crowd that we will have on Friday and take our first step towards hopefully ending up with a Regional championship.”

Redshirt Senior First Baseman Jared King

“I am extremely proud of our guys for where we came from, not only last year but [where we started from] at the beginning of this season. Outside of that locker room, the expectations were not as high and nobody really believed in us, but everybody in there knew what kind of club we had and what we could accomplish. I think that makes this even sweeter.”

Question: How big of a factor is being able to play at home?

“It’s great. I know this town has really rallied around this team the last couple of years. The outpouring of fan support has just continued to grow year after year and that has been extremely important to our success. Being able to have a packed house for a Regional is extremely important for us.”

Question: What does it take from this point forward to get to Omaha?

“We are going to have to play our brand of baseball. Our guys have done a great job all year of not taking anything for granted and focusing on the fundamentals. I think if we just come out and play good, fundamental baseball, we are going to have success.”

Sophomore Outfielder Derek Fisher

“We are pretty excited to find out who we are going to play and who is coming to Charlottesville. We just have to look at it as a weekend, just like it has been. We have had some of the best teams in the country come in here to play this year. That [experience] is really going to help us to deal with the atmosphere and the teams that are coming in. Every team that comes in is going to be an upper-level, great team, but the teams that we have played this season are really going to help us as time goes forward.”

Question: How big of a deal is it to have home field advantage?”It’s huge. Getting a national seed is a great advantage, but it is only an advantage to a certain point. Every team is going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder, looking to prove something because of not being a higher seed. They are going to have the same mentality as us with the talent they have and the great coaching staffs that all of these teams have. It is going to be a special weekend for us.”

“We need to go in and basically play Virginia baseball: play loose and aggressive and hope that things go our way.”

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