BASEBALL: Coach Cohen Speaks With the Media

"I really feel like our club has a nice mixture of speed and power, which is something we didn't have a year ago.

I really like the young arms in our program. We have seven freshman pitchers and we're very excited about those guys. So, we have a nice mix and a good group. We have three freshmen from Lexington, Kentucky. "

"Our practices have been very, very good. We're going to end our fall practices on Monday (Nov. 1). It's been very good and very competitive with a good group of youthful (players).

"We're going to have a youthful appearance and we'll make some mistakes. But I think we'll have a combination of more athleticism and passion – things I'm interested in.

"There are a lot of new things about our facilities and some things about our season that we're going to announce later on in terms of home games. So, it's a great time for us and our kids are very excited about getting going."

On John Shelby's position
"He's vying for the shortstop job right now and most of the time that's where we're playing him. He's played some third and some second base. He hasn't played much in the outfield, but I feel like at any time he can go out and be one of the best defensive centerfielders in the Southeastern Conference. He had a great summer. He's put on a little weight and is running better. He has more power and is identifying the breaking ball a lot better at the plate. There is a real possibility that he can be playing in the middle infield for us. If that doesn't happen, he'll be in centerfield."

On the building a program against other successful ones in the SEC
"I think it's a big advantage in the recruiting process. You're really going to filter out people who don't believe in their abilities. If you're afraid to play in this league and don't want to play in this league – and that's how we recruit. Players who want to play at the highest level and want to compete in the SEC are guys who are attractive in the recruiting process. That's what we feel we have. The ability to go out and compete in front of large crowds and against the top of college baseball in the SEC, we feel, is a tremendous advantage. Nine teams from our league went to the NCAA Tournament last year, which was a record. It broke the SEC record from the year before which was eight teams. Four of those (last year) ended up in the College World Series. It probably could have been more if some bracketing hadn't been the way it was. I've been on the other end of the spectrum. I was at Northwestern (State in) Louisiana, won 40 games and sat there and didn't get in the tournament. You win 40 games in this league and it's pretty much, where are we going and are we hosting. That's a good feeling to have.

On Billy Grace
"Billy Grace has a chance to be a big time player in the Southeastern Conference. I can say this about our returning player, we don't have many who are returning, but the ones who are, are bigger, stronger and faster. They understand the league better and understand coach Cohen better. We understand them better. We are very excited about Billy Grace. He has a chance to be very, very good."

On players understanding coach Cohen's philosophies
"I think the competitive nature of it is very important and the players realize that. At the same time, ability level, no matter how badly you want it, at times your ability level is going to dictate whether you win or lose games. The kid who runs a 4.6 to first base – sometimes we can help that and make it better, but if he's a 4.6 runner and it's his best – it matters. No matter what the will power and the passion, its going to hard for that guy to run better. It's a combination of getting guys who have the skill and the kind of passion that we want."


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