With all of the preseason accolades, what are your individual expectations for the season?
JH: "To just go out there and do what I've been trying to do my entire career here – go out there and throw strikes and give my team the best chance to win in every game I pitch in. I've got a good defense behind me. It's young, but we got a lot of guys who have a lot of potential and I know if I throw the ball down in the zone, we're going to get the job done."
Talk about how much of benefit it was for you to play in Cape Cod league over the summer and perform so well.
JH: "It's awesome. Coach (Billy) Godwin gave me that chance to go out there my freshman year and it was really an honor to put on those jerseys and to go out there and call yourself a Cape Cod baseball player. Going out there and playing against the best competition in the country … I think it really makes you better even if you're not playing as much. You get to watch some of the other pitchers that you're around and really see how they work and how they succeed."
How much motivation do you get from missing the NCAA Tournament last year?
JH: "It's monumental. My freshman year, we still had some of those guys on our team. All of those seniors. At the end of last year, when we're waiting and we realized we weren't going to in that regional, it made you want to drop your head. But with these guys in the locker room, we didn't. We knew that next year was going to be the year we do something special. This year, we know we're going to go out there and do what we're supposed to do, put together some of those wins we needed and bring home some of those mid-week games that we need to win."
---- Catcher Travis Watkins: -----
Do you think the strong finish to last season will serve as momentum going into this year?
TW: "I think we're really going to start fast. We've had a great fall, have a lot of guys come in that are stepping up and we're confident in a lot of guys to do well this season."
You're going to be relied on to provide some power to the lineup. With Chase McDonald gone, how comfortable are you stepping into that role?
TW: "I think we have a lot of guys in that role. Not only for me to step up. We have Luke Lowery, Ian Townsend, Bryce Harmon, Drew Reynolds and a lot of guys in the middle of our lineup that can really handle the power."
Is the end-all be-all goal to win Conference USA in your final year in the league?
TW: "Of course. That's our goal every year, to win Conference USA. We have a great pitching staff coming back this year. We have our whole weekend staff, some key guys in our bullpen and our closer. Not many teams can say that. I think that's going to help us a lot this year."
As a catcher, how comfortable is it to have the bulk of the pitching staff coming back?
TW: "Experience is a big thing at catcher. You know how they pitch, what they like to throw in certain situations and definitely a year under my belt will help."
---- Right-hander David Lucroy: -----
Now that you have a year starting under your belt, do you feel more confident going into this season?
DL: "I feel like I've grown a lot as a baseball player and a pitcher. I feel a lot better this year. A lot of the reason is because of our pitching staff. It's gotten a lot better , (and) we've got a really strong bullpen coming back. So I think that gives us a sense of confidence about the entire team really."
What's it like pitching behind a guy like Jeff Hoffman?
DL: "I wouldn't call it pitching behind him I call it pitching with him. It is awesome, though, because you kind of feed off stuff like that. You see that he's getting a lot of attention and the only thing that can do is help everyone on this squad (and) just bring a lot of media attention all around. So I think overall I think it's great being around such a high prospect right now."
UNC and N.C. State both went to Omaha and are on your schedule this year? Are those the kind of games you circle on your calendars when looking at the schedule?
DL: "Absolutely. Not being from here and coming here and seeing how much people have a rivalry with the other teams, that is something that has grown on me. And it definitely has given me a sense of passion to beat the Tar Heels and beat the Wolfpack. I wasn't raised here, but I hate them just as much as everyone else now."