June 2, 2011
TCU Video | Oklahoma Video | Dallas Baptist Video | Oral Roberts Video
FORT WORTH -- Head coaches and players from TCU, Oklahoma, Dallas Baptist and Oral Roberts met with the media Thursday at TCU's Lupton Stadium. Below are some highlights from the press conferences with all of the schools.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle
On hosting an NCAA regional for the third-straight year
"I'd like to welcome everybody to Fort Worth. We're excited to have the opportunity to host a regional for the third-straight year. I think that's a great accomplishment for any school, but certainly for a private school in the state of Texas. This region of the country is so competitive. There are so many great programs to compete with for that opportunity. We're fired up and ready to start play."
On dealing with injuries this season
"From a pitching staff standpoint, it's certainly been the toughest since I've been at TCU. The silver lining in all that is the guys that we've run out in place of the first three pitchers, when they haven't been out there, have usually been better than the pitchers that were pitching healthily six or seven years ago. No disrespect to those guys, in my first couple years here, we had some competitive guys, but we didn't have Andrew Mitchell on our team. I think Trent Appleby is pitching the best he's ever pitched. Stefan Crichton and Nick Fry have really emerged. The depth and the quality of our pitching have shown through."
On preseason expectations of freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell, who will start Friday night
"We thought he was going to have a great year for us. We saw some really good things in the fall and some really good things in the preseason. He was one of those guys who came in and wasn't drafted out of high school and I never saw him pitch in high school. My favorite thing about Mitchell and the same with Crichton and now, Fry, you coach so many players who show you a level of performance in practice, when you get in the game, it's less than that. The special players are the one that show you a level of performance in practice and then what's in the game is significantly better. The first time he stepped on the mound, in the first game of the season out of the bullpen, we saw velocity and life to the pitches that we had never seen in practice. That showed us what kind of competitive person he is. After his start against Baylor, in the fourth game of the season, we knew we really had something special."
On facing Oral Roberts on Friday night
"M disrespect to anyone else in the tournament, but I've got to believe, they're without question the toughest four seed in the country. They're not even deserving of that, they're deserving of a much-higher seed. Rob Walton is one of my very-closest friends in coaching for a long time. I know what kind of developer of players he is and what kind of game manager he is. It's amazing what they've done with 14-consecutive NCAA tournaments. There are so many restrictions at the school they must overcome from a recruiting standpoint. They're not sneaking up on anybody. Myself and my team, we're very aware of how good they are and how seasoned in the postseason that program is. We're not facing a team that is 20 games under .500 and happened to win its postseason tournament. We're facing a very good team."
TCU junior outfielder Jason Coats
On TCU's draw for the regional
"They seeded Dallas Baptist here because they're close to us and I think we're going to look at it as each game as one game at a time. Our philosophy is we're playing a game; we're not playing another team. We're playing against the ball the whole time. It's a tough draw, but I think it will be a good challenge for our team and will help us mature more."
TCU freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell
On his progression from his first start of the year to now
"It does seem like a long time ago. I remember it really well because I was playing against one of my old teammates. I was ready to play against him after playing with him for so long. It does seem like a long time ago and we've gone through a lot since then. I've learned how to pitch against a college team. One through nine can always hit and you can't take a pitch off. It's a lot different than high school. I have to bear down for all my hitters."
Oklahoma coach Sonny Golloway
On Oklahoma's appearance in the Fort Worth Regional
"We are extremely excited to be representing the University of Oklahoma and all of our students-athletes here in the Fort Worth Regional. It's an outstanding field and will be a great weekend of competition because of the level of student-athletes. We are disappointed that we are not at home, clearly, as we hosted the last two years, but the good Lord, we felt, if he wasn't going to keep us at home, he was at least going to keep us close. Why I feel that's important is for our fans. It gives our fans a chance to come down and watch us continue to compete. Our fans have been such a big part of our recent tradition of getting to Omaha, hosting regionals and being ranked nationally. They do such a great job of supporting student-athletes that it's exciting it
On his team's familiarity with the Regional's other three teams
"We have a familiarity with each of the teams. We have played everyone except Oral Roberts, but we played them in our Regional last year. I think that will come into play strategically at some point, what that means we won't know until it happens. It's going to be an exciting week. Clearly we will have a champion leave that is going to be very worthy of competing in a Super Regional to get to Omaha. I can say it before we throw the first pitch, I clearly hope the champion that gets to this regional gets to Omaha."
On the importance of that familiarity
"I think it makes it easier. You scramble so hard, all of a sudden if you were traveling to an Oregon State playing three teams you haven't played (makes it difficult). There are still things you have to update. Everybody has someone who has gotten hot. Everyone has adjusted their lineups or pitching staffs due to injuries. There is probably less preparation, but you still spend the same amount of time digging for something extra. At some point it's just about student-athletes going out and playing. We recognize that at Oklahoma. We didn't have anything special in our scouting report last year. Our guys just went out and performed and made it to Omaha. At some point you have to get out of their way and let them play."
Oklahoma junior infielder Caleb Bushyhead
On difficulty of scoring runs
"I don't think it's going to be any different for us than all year for us. We're just going to have to come out and really swing it well. Some guys are going to have to come through big for us, and we're just going to have to go out and play our game, play small ball, get the ball in play and play like we always do."
On changing strategy expecting to play in tighter games in the postseason
"I think it puts a lot more pressure on the defense. You need to go out there and perform defensively. Bunt coverages and all that, you need to shore up all of the little parts of your game. Bunt coverages, being able to run (pick-off) plays, just being really solid defensively has become a lot bigger this year than last year because games have become a lot tighter. With postseason, the pressure and all that, we just need to be able to go out with confidence and do it."
Oklahoma senior pitcher Michael Rocha
On his experience from Oklahoma's previous meeting this season vs. Dallas Baptist
"Our pitching coach (Mike Bell) makes us do a lot of chart work--where pitches are, what kind of pitches batters swing at--so throughout the entire year we pay a lot of attention to the teams we play. You never know when it's going to help down the road, and obviously here it is going to help."
Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner
On selection for the Fort Worth regional
"Obviously, we're really excited to be here. It's been a great season for our guys and to get selected for a regional is a huge honor for us. It's something that we're fired up about and one thing that we're most excited about it coming to a place we're familiar with and playing teams we're familiar with. We couldn't ask for anything more than to play against great competition in two teams that were in the College World Series last year."
On progressing through the season without being in a conference
"It definitely puts a little more pressure on you, especially early in the year. At that time, you know that first quarter of the year can be make or break for you. We had a stretch there about halfway through the year were we lost a few games that we probably shouldn't have lost. Our job is to just keep plugging away and try to be positive with the guys. We just talk about trying to be our best at the end of the year and keep doing things right. If you're in a conference, in those early games, you're still working on things. You can look at being great once conference play starts. In conference, you can stay motivated by playing your best at conference tournament time. Every game is huge for us. It makes it a challenge to make sure we're motivated and ready to play every game."
On his team staying loose during the NCAA tournament
"I think that's been a strength of our team all year long when we're playing against these types of teams week in and week out. That's what I've been the most proud of is how loose they have been in those games. They haven't tensed up or played with any pressure. I feel like we've prepared ourselves and this is why we practice every single day. When we get in this situation, let's enjoy it. This is why we're here, this is why we've worked so hard."
Dallas Baptist senior pitcher Brandon Williamson
On the importance of midweek games on their schedule
"We try to look at every game as just as important, but there's no doubt the midweek games hold a little more weight. We know each time, no matter whom we play, it's going to be a good team. We've got to show up every day as if it is a midweek game. In reality, the midweek games probably weigh a little more for us getting into a regional tournament. It gets long, but it's part of what we've worked for throughout the fall and working into the season. We always try to play every game like it's all we have."
Dallas Baptist senior outfielder Jason Krizan
On leading the nation in doubles
"Coach Heefner stresses for us to lead the nation in doubles every year. It is a good feeling that I led the country in doubles and I have the NCAA record. The way I see it is, if you square up the ball, good things are going to happen. I was fortunate enough to square it up and keep it in the yard, 37 times. Whenever I'm in the box, I just look for something to square up and run a hard 90 feet. If I had a shot to get to second, then I'll take it."
Oral Roberts coach Rob Walton
On the opportunity to play in another NCAA Regional
"It's very good to be here, another opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament for us. There are a lot of very deserving teams at home who didn't get in, so we feel good about being in the tournament and in Fort Worth."
On his team's familiarity with the other teams in the Regional
"We travel a lot, so by the time we get to a regional, we have seen all styles and are prepared for all styles of baseball. For the players, they have played here once this year, so coming back they knowing what to expect. They know how the ball carries and how the ball bounces, so that's a good thing."
On how his team has improved during the course of the season
"Early on we had some injuries that test your character and your resolve. Some of those guys have started to get healthy now. Overall, we've just executed better. We've moved guys over and gotten them in, we've taken the extra base on the bad throw--we've done the little things better over the last three weeks than we did early in the year. We wouldn't be here without the two guys next to me (senior outfielders Nick Baligod and Chris Elder). They are our leaders on the field. It takes time for a freshman like (infielder) T.J. Bennet to get accustomed (to playing). (Infielder) Cam Schiller's a junior but a new player, and we have a freshman starting tomorrow on the mound in (Alex) Gonzalez, so we have our fair share of new guys. There's a lot of emotion and anxiety--they had to overcome a lot early. So I think over the last few weeks we've really matured as a team, and it's shown in our execution."
On his decision to tab freshman Alex Gonzalez as his Game 1 starter
"Alex has our best stuff. During the year, without many junior or seniors in your rotation ... I've had to mentor him a little bit more. I've tried to get him into some games, even in the mid-week, just to throw an inning in the bullpen. He's pitched against Arizona State, Arkansas and Baylor, so he's pitched in some atmospheres before to try to help the maturing process move along a little quicker. But he has our best arm. At times he can be special, and at times he (pitches like) a freshman. He's our best guy at the particular moment. The No. 1 seed is who we play first, so we have to put our best foot forward. He gives us the best opportunity for that."
Oral Roberts senior outfielder Chris Elder
On playing at Lupton Stadium a second time this season
"I feel it's great playing here. We already played TCU in a close game, so we just will come out with a belief that we can play with anyone."
On building off last season's experience from playing in the Norman Regional
"Last year, what I got out of the regional is that we can play with anyone. If OU made it to the College World Series last year, and we were practically an inning away from winning that game (7-6 OU win in 10 innings), why not us, why can't we make it? I feel we have a better team this year, as well."
On the team's recent ability to win close games
"In the tournament, we found a way to win the championship game, but early on in the season we were losing those tight ball games. Lately, we've just been finding ways to win. It's given us more confidence and more belief in our teammates."
Oral Roberts senior outfielder Nick Baligod
On playing at Lupton Stadium a second time this season
"It gives us more confidence. We are feeling better coming here this year in (our ability to compete)."
On gaining from winning the Summit League tournament championship
"In the tournament, we played really well. We handled business, as we like to say. Coming in here, I think it's just going to carry on."