Around the Bases with Cody Penny

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Cody Penny has thrived in the closer's role thus far this season, not allowing an earned run (and only two hits) in his seven appearances, recording three saves. Inside Carolina chatted with the sophomore after UNC's mid-week win over Princeton.

What's it like to now be in the traditional closer's role for the Tar Heels?
"There is a lot of pressure and I love it. I love being out there when the game is on the line and it is a close game and doing it for my teammates and getting the win."

You've taken on a much bigger role this season, how have you adapted to that? And did your relieving experience in high school prepare you for this in college?
"A lot of freshmen do not get to throw a lot. It is all about how you take it. I just took it as I was going to work hard and get better and see what I could do the next year. The Lord has blessed me with the ability and I did what I could with it and that is what I ended up with now."

Has the game slowed down for you mentally as a sophomore as compared to your freshman year?
"You just have to keep your cool and stay calm and collected no matter what happens regardless because you are going to have to make the next pitch and it helps to keep a level head, stay calm and do what you can."

How'd you come up with your choice of walk up music?
"It is a good beat I like TI a lot and a lot of other guys have songs from the album and it is just my personal favorite. I roll with it and it gets my adrenaline going and it does what it is supposed to for me."

What other artists did you consider?
"Linkin Park has some good rock stuff, some more TI or Young Jeezy. It is all personal opinion really."

Do you feel that the players on the team pick music for themselves or for the fans?
"I think it just depends really - it depends on what you are going for. It is good to get the crowd involved but some people do it for themselves. It is just all preference to be honest with you."

What does Jacob Stallings do that instills confidence in the pitching staff?
"He is unbelievable back there. He steals strikes for us all day and it is great to have a catcher like him back there as well as with Matt Roberts. Coach Forbes and Coach Fox do an excellent job with those guys and get them where they need to be. I have the utmost trust in Jacob and it is unbelievable how good he is back there."

How do Coach Forbes and Stallings call a game for the pitchers from your perspective?
"It is between them and I can shake if I want to and throw what I want to but in reality you are going with them most of the time - you are going to have success and end up getting the out. They stay on the same page."

Can you discuss Chase Jones' work on BaseBald for the Cure?
"Chase is just an unbelievable guy. What he went through and his story is just so uplifting and what he does for the community I just have so much respect for him. BaseBald for the Cure is something he does and the whole baseball team wants to get behind him for all he does for us. It is our honor to do that for him."

Is anyone dreading getting all of their hair shaved off on the field after the Clemson series?
"There are quite a few of us. I am definitely dreading it because I have a rather large head and it is not going to look too good to be honest with you. Tate Parrish, Kent Emanuel, Cody Stiles ... you can count them on two hands. It is something we want to do and it is awesome."

How did the leaders on this team respond to adversity after the Wake Forest series last weekend?
"We got on the field yesterday and bounced around. Our seniors did a great job keeping us motivated - Bryant Gaines, Greg Holt and Ben Bunting. Those guys just always stay positive and it is good for the young guys and for us to see that. It keeps us motivated because we need to keep chugging."

Can you discuss the changes in strategy in spotting pitches with the new BBCOR bats this season from your perspective?
"Well, I will be honest with you. You can miss a lot more with your fastball because if they don't hit it on the sweet spot it is not going to go anywhere. Last year they could miss-hit a ball and it could fly out of the park. Mostly with your fastball because that is the one they hit far - now they have to hit it just right to hit it out of the park."

In your opinion who is the biggest practical joker on the squad this season?
"I would have to say probably Patrick Johnson. He is always taking stuff from everybody. I don't think that he quite thinks it is a joke though so he always is stealing stuff from everybody. I just laugh at him. Well we look at Patrick's locker most of the time and there it is. He is one of our teammates and we like him a lot. It kind of just comes with the territory."


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