The Bearcat Baseball team is off to a great start. Bearcat Insider sat down with Head Coach Brian Cleary and talked about the 2005 season.

BCI: Coach Cleary you've entered your ninth season and the Bearcats are off to a great start.

Coach Cleary: We are off to a good start. We could have come out with a few more wins in the first nine games, but we have played well. We've done some things well, but I don't think we've played as well as were going too. We have some improvements to make, but I'm pleased with how we started.

BCI: Talk about having this great stadium to use this whole season.

Coach Cleary: Well, I think there is no question about that. Unless you've been through understanding the impact of being on the road like we have the past two seasons. You don't understand the effects it will have on so many parts of our program, but it was well worth the wait.

It's paid off in recruiting, but more than that it's allowed us to really spend more time developing our players. It's a great place to practice and we can get a lot of work done there. But as we get into the season, I hope this place is really going to become a home for us and our fans. I think anyone who experienced the one weekend we had last season saw what type of atmosphere we had. I feel its going to become a destination for Bearcat fans in the spring to come support us and for them to enjoy being in such a great facility.

BCI: Talk about recruiting in College Baseball.

Coach Cleary: Well recruiting is something we spend time on every day. It's the most important thing we do besides developing the players we have. In baseball were different than football or basketball. Our recruiting is not as structured.

Coach Brad Meador is our Recruiting Coordinator and he spearheads our recruiting effort. He's excellent at it, in that he's organized, but we spend a lot of time daily evaluating players either over the phone or trying to make sure we don't waste trips when we go for visits.

We've had a lot of success here lately and I feel the stadium has had a lot to do with that. But, I also feel our move into the Big East along with the changes going on around our campus has made players take notice.

I think people are seeing if a player in this part of the country who's interested in a great major college baseball experience and getting a great education, that there's just not many places that can give them what we can here. And I feel some great players have taken notice of that. We've signed a great class for next year and we still have a little work to do for that class. But recruiting is something we spend a vast majority of our time doing besides developing our players.

BCI: Looking at this year's team, you look like you're strong in the infield, and also centerfield. Do you have any other players you want to talk about?

Coach Cleary: I think the one thing I like about this group is it's a smaller group. We don't have a great amount of depth, but I feel everyone understands they have a role to play.

In centerfield we have LaFringe Hayes and he brings something we have been lacking, speed.... He's run down some balls already and saved us some outs. He also brings us some speed on offense. Our corner outfield defense is still a work in progress and we've got to get better there.

LaFringe Hayes

We must get better defensively behind the plate. Our pitching has improved and I feel our staff is a work in progress, but we've had some good performances on the mound, but we must continue to work there. If Tony Maynard can continue to pitch well he gives us a solid Friday night starter. And with our two other freshman who have started we can be solid, but there not as good as I feel they will.

Josh Kay coming out of our bullpen has been a real plus. I think as Bryan Wood, Kyle Markle and Mike Foley continue to get some innings under their belt and get comfortable their going help us and as Justin Minges, David Theobald and Nick Buscemi return to full health I think those guys will also help us greatly. They have all done some good things.

I feel good about our staff, but I feel offense is what has to carry us. We've done a good job so far, but I still don't thing we've gotten hot. Mark Haske has been hot but we don't have anyone just yet that's caught on fire. I think when that happens were going to be able to put up a lot of runs.

BCI: This is your last year in Conference USA, what should the other teams in the conference expect from the Bearcats?

Coach Cleary: I think were clearly improved from the other year. So I think it will be different that way. But what were trying to do is set us up to win Big East Championships. That's not to take anything away from this season or the conference. Because it's important for us to finish as well as we can. The Conference is incredibly strong again with Tulane and several other teams coming off regional appearances, so it's a challenge. But we must improve our standing from a year ago and climb as many places as we can and get into our conference tournament. If we do that, we'll leave the conference on a positive note and be prepared to enter the Big East next season.

BCI: How excited are you about moving into the Big East? It seems every coach I speak with is real excited about making the move.

Coach Cleary: Well there's no question for our department and our university I think it's just a spectacular move. For us baseball wise I think it's also a positive. It's a strong baseball league and it puts us with some teams that are like us in terms of weather. But outside of South Florida and Louisville we will have some of the best weather in the conference.

BCI: You've had several players head off to pro baseball. What players do you see on this team that has that chance?

Coach Cleary: Well if you look at the freshman and the other under classmen it's hard to say just yet. But in our older guys I feel we have several guys capable to do that. Tony Maynard is one of those players who may have a chance. Logan Parker and Mark Haske are two players that could get the chance. Haske has seen some interest already. Neall French has been drafted, but you never know if he will be again. You really can't control what happen, other people make those decisions. But I feel we have some players that could make it at the next level.

BCI: Coach I'm very impressed with the stadium, can you tell us more about the playing surface?

Coach Cleary: We have a field turf surface like the one the Tampa Bays Devils Ray use. It's a great surface for us because it drains very well. That allows us to cover the infield and play almost all the time on it. It plays true, and plays a little bit faster than a northern grass field. Were still working out the way it plays but were coming along.

BCI: Coach I would like to thank you for taking the time and talking about the Bearcat Baseball team. We wish you the best this season.

Coach Cleary: Thank you, we look forward to having a great season and seeing many fans come out and watch us play.

**Cat Notes**

The Bearcats now stands with an 8-5 record after defeating Xavier on Sunday 6-0. They have won all four of their home games and if the weather holds out they will be back in action at the UC Baseball Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday against rival Louisville. Game time for Friday and Saturday is slated for 4:00 p.m. with a 1:00 p.m. start for Sunday. If you haven't made the trip and checked out the new stadium, you must... It's one of the best in college baseball.

Leading the way for the Bearcats on the mound is Tony Maynard and Sean Munninghoff. Maynard has a 3-0 record in 5 starts with Munninghoff being 2-1 in 3 starts and a total of 5 appearances. Josh Kay has recorded 3 saves on the young season.

On offense the Bearcats are being paced by Mark Haske, LaFringe Hayes and Jon DeLuca. Haske is hitting .404 with 8 runs batted in. Hayes is hitting .355 with 5 steals and 7 runs batted in. DeLuca is the third Bearcat hitting over .300 with a .310 mark. He also has 14 runs batted in and has stolen 2 bases.

Logan Parker leads the team in homers with 3, while Brian Szarmach and Brian Beltz both have 2 a piece.

We have also spoke with a couple of the Bearcat players and will have these interviews

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